The customer journey – A 360º view of your customer interactions
A lot has been written about the customer journey, or path to purchase, and about the importance of communicating the right message at the right time according to what stage of the journey your customers find themselves.
Even if the concept seems simple enough, it’s actually quite challenging to fully grasp and implement. The hard part is figuring out each customers’ journey stage and then deploy content and tools to help nurture them to the next stage as they discover and adopt your brand.
But how can you move them forward? What content should you use? Check out this video to learn how.
What exactly is the customer journey?
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The customer journey is the sequence of steps or stages through which a customer passes from the discovery of a need to the satisfaction of that need.
For over half a century, brands behaved as if all customers were ready to buy. As if all they needed to do was to show up and call their customers to action.
Today, we realize that we must do more. We need to guide our customers as they search for information and consider their options before making a purchase and adopting a brand. So it’s critically important to understand this process and each step of that process. And most important of all, to understand how to move the customer forward in their journey.
Essentially, the customer journey is a cyclical and dynamic purchase process that replaces the old and tired linear purchase process, often referred to as the sales funnel.
The key steps that lead to brand adoption
The customer moves through as series of phases or stages that start with the discovery of a need, moving on to searching for information, the consideration of various possibilities and ultimately, the purchase of a product, service or experience.
But what makes the customer journey so interesting is that:
- The customer can move forward, but also regress in their journey. And the brand must be able to detect that regression and act accordingly.
- Each interaction is a moment of truth that can reinforce, weaken or end the relationship (which is why it is critical to ensure a quality experience at each stage of the process, and above all, after the purchase.
- The first purchase by the customer is not the end, but simply the means to initiating, consolidating and amplifying a long-term relationship.
The challenge for marketers is to be able to identify at which stage each customer is located along the journey and to understand the direction and the velocity of their journey.
Marketers must then create and deploy the tools, activities and content that are relevant and useful at each stage of the journey and above all, that will help their customers move forward to the next stage in the journey.
Tools and content such as:
- Inspiring Video content at the discovery or dream stage
- A series of email messages and personalized guides at the information and conversion stage
- Comparison tools and recommendation engines at the consideration stage
- Reviews, comments and testimonials at the choosing stage, And the list goes on…
Before, during and after the sale
It is critically important for marketers to think about what happens after the first sale.
- What can you do to help your customers use your products or services effectively?
- To help them get the most satisfaction out of their purchase experience?
- And that it will be an exceptional experience that reinforces the relationship?
- The categories of relevant goods or services that will allow you to satisfy other needs in order to deepen and diversify the customer relationship.
The three key questions
Now, in order to truly master the concept of the customer journey, ask yourself these three essential questions:
First of all
What are the key stages of the customer journey for the typical customers or personas that purchase your brand? This is what is known as “mapping the customer journey”.
What are the media, the tools, the messages and the content that are relevant and useful at each stage of the journey?
What are the things that you want your customers to do in order to move them forward to the next step on their journey?
So that is what the Customer Journey is all about.
But how do you figure out where each of your customers stand on their personal journey? And above all, how can you manage the full range of tools, content and information in order to provide your customers with the right message at the right time?
That’s a lot of assets to manage simultaneously. Sounds like a full-time job for a whole team of marketers. But actually it’s simpler than it looks.
In the next episode of What’s this all about, I’ll tell you all about marketing automation and how to use it to manage hundreds of interactions with thousands of customers with lifting a finger.
Mark Morin is an author, consultant, trainer and president of Strategies Relationship Marketing. He also teaches relationship marketing at University of Montreal.