Many businesses continue to operate on a day-to-day basis without having a firm grasp of the wants, needs, and motivations of their customers. A customer journey map can be a useful tool for maximizing customer success by helping you improve your products, refine your business processes and focus your marketing.
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is a diagram representing the various steps a customer takes to make a purchase from your business, from first becoming aware of your product/service offerings through purchasing and the eventual post-sales experience.
What Are the Phases of a Typical Customer Journey?
A typical customer journey has five phases:
1. Awareness: This phase begins when the customer first learns of your products/services as a result of your marketing efforts. They may become aware through a variety of marketing channels such as:
- Your business website
- Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- Email marketing
- Newspaper ads
- Radio/television ads
- YouTube videos
- Vehicle advertising (wraps, etc.)
- Word of mouth
2. Consideration: At this point the customer searches for basic information about your business (and probably other businesses that offer the same or similar products). This highlights the importance of having an online presence, even if it is a simple business website that has basic information including:
- Business address (if applicable)
- Hours of operation
- Contact information
- Product/service offerings
Customers are looking for a business that can address their particular needs. So whether they want to dine at a Greek restaurant, or need to purchase insurance, your business has to be highly visible in online searches and your contact information needs to be readily available.
The other important factor in having an online presence is location searches. If, for example, a customer is on foot or in a hurry and wants to go to the nearest available coffee shop, your business needs to be visible in online maps such as those provided by Google. (For this to happen, you need to create a business profile on Google.)
3. Research: Having searched online and found a business that provides the needed products/services, the next step in the customer journey is to do background research on the chosen business. This is typically performed online via:
- Google reviews, TripAdvisor (for travelers), Better Business Bureau, etc.
- Social media feedback from Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Word of mouth—still very important in the digital age, particularly in smaller locales and with trades and service shops. Most people who need a plumber, for example, tend to contact friends and associates for recommendations.
When searching for a business customer, priorities can vary greatly depending on the product or service required. A customer searching for a generic product may be primarily concerned about price, whereas for those searching for a place to dine, a hotel, or vehicle service, price is likely to be one of many considerations. A purchaser of goods online may be concerned with the cost of shipping and potential delays in receiving the product(s).
4. Purchase: Once the business has been located, the reviews examined, and comparisons made with other businesses and/or product offerings, it's time for a purchase to be made. This may take place in a number of ways:
- Online—for products that can be delivered or ordered and picked up in-store
- In person—for those needing immediate access to a product or service
- Over the phone—when requesting a tradesperson or ordering food for delivery
5. Review: The review process takes place after the customer has received the product or service and (if applicable) makes use of post-sales service and support. Customer reviews take place via the same methods used in step three:
- Online reviews
- Social media
- Word of mouth
Reviews are critical for business success and negative customer feedback needs to be dealt with swiftly and effectively. According to statistics:
- 70% of the customer’s journey is dictated by how the customer feels they are being treated (Industry Analysts, Inc.)
- 72% of customers do not make a purchase until they have read reviews (Testimonial Engine)
- 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week, but 63% say that a business has never responded to their review (ReviewTrackers)
- 94% of customers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business (ReviewTrackers)
Why a Customer Journey Map Is Important
The process of creating a customer journey map can help you better understand your business from the point of view of the customer:
- How they find out about your products/services
- How you compare to the competition
- How they are treated by your sales and customer support staff
Identifying and correcting problems that lead to negative customer experiences will improve your business reputation, help you retain customers (and attract new ones), and have a positive impact on your bottom line.