Customer behaviour has changed tremendously over the past decade. It is impossible to predict with the classic marketing funnel approach. The journey from orientation to procurement has become a whole different road. The blog post “What are buyer personas and how to develop them” described the benefits of buyer personas. You are reading part 3 of the series lead generation, about the customer journey, the basics of online marketing.
Customer interaction is leading
Marketing is no longer the party of the marketing department. Any employee who has customer contact is de facto the business card of the company. So it is essential to identify the journey and experience of your customers. With this understanding, you can take advantage of any contact moments you encounter. Every interaction determines satisfaction, customer loyalty and profits.
Benefits of a customer journey
A customer journey is a graphic or visual representation from the perspective of an individual. Which relation(s) does the customer have with your products, services, people and brand and through which channels in the course of time? It’s about charting the story of the customer. The customer journey offers the following advantages:
- insight into customer experiences
- constructive internal debate: what does the customer experience without inside-out thinking
- Insight into the match customer expectations and business requirements: where are the obstacles?
- incentive for thinking in customer value rather than one-off transactions
- Innovation in product and service: design coupled to the experience of the customer.
How do you determine the customer journey?
A customer journey isn’t enumerating a number of interactions such as a site visit, a like on Facebook or an app download. It comes to understanding the total customer experience with all stakeholders of the business. Because they determine the customer engagement. The core is: how does your product, service, organization and brand fit into the life of the customer? You determine the customer journey by means of the following items:
- Personas: I discussed this in my previous blog post.
- Time interval: Your customer goes on a journey, but not forever. Choose a period of between one week and one year depending on your product.
- Emotions: A customer isn’t made of stone. What makes him happy or fearful? What frustrates him?
- Touchpoints: Interaction between the customer and your business. This is the “what” question, what does the customer do?
- Channels: How does the customer interact with your brand? This is the “where” question. Is this online, offline or by phone?
The effect of the customer journey
Hopefully you have already become a little excited about the customer journey. But how does this in practice look like? This YouTube video from UX Mastery explains the process in a clear way. I develop the model in 9 steps.
Step 1: Describe goals
Determine the purpose of your product or service, what do your customers want to do with it? Think outside the lines.
Step 2: Gather information
Gather qualitative and quantitative data which provide insight into the customer experience, such as customer interviews, customer surveys, complaint descriptions, web analytics, social media posts and competition analysis.
Step 3: Brainstorm on channels and touchpoints
As a team, find out what contact with the customer you have through which channels. Suppose the touchpoint is paying a bill. The channels through which this can happen is online, via email or face-to-face.
Step 4: Empathy
Do the exercise with the empathy map. The empathy map outlines the persona and his/her experience in a given scenario. It gives a deeper understanding of customer experiences and offers insight into what customers need.
Step 5: Brainstorm with dimensions
Do a brainstorm with dimensions. The dimensions are words that describe concepts, brand attitudes or mindsets. The goal is to have a different view on problems or scenarios. Create a team, define 3 to 5 dimensions and set the clock at 2 minutes per dimension. Ensure that each team member contributes. This way, you get a whole stack of dimensions.
Step 6: Affinity diagram
Use an affinity diagram to find consistency in the concepts. Determine features and fit them into relevant solutions for the customer. All team members stick their ideas from step 5 on the wall. Let someone create categories and labels. Later on, determine as a team how you will refine, combine or delete ideas to create a coherent vision for the future customer experience.
Step 7: Sketch the journey
Get started with the development of the trip. The puzzle now falls into place: time interval, touchpoints, channels, emotions and all the ideas from the team. Be creative with the customer journey. Do not limit yourself to templates.
Step 8: Refine and characterize
Create a workable framework from all team efforts for internal use. The more visual, the better. No designer? Call for help to create a complete picture.
Step 9: Share and use
Spread the customer journey within your organization. It provides guidance on customer strategy and operational execution. Wide dissemination among all stakeholders is crucial to get the organization in motion.
I wish you a pleasant journey!
After these lessons, it is your turn as a marketer. Take on your role as a catalyst in this process and engage your colleagues. Make them your very own “partners in crime”. Some tips for when you get started:
- Time: Start with one day for the development of a customer journey for a persona. Go “sit on the moor” to hold your focus and to keep working on the concept.
- People: Create a large team of all the stakeholders that are involved with the company in multiple experience levels. This is how you achieve the richest insights. Think daily of your customers: use the customer journey as a sacred document within the company. Hang it everywhere: from the parking lot to the toilet. It is about the existence of your organization.
After all, without customers = no business!
Have a pleasant journey and good luck!