Customer journey - do you know yours?

customer-journey-creative-womens-circle-jes-egan-paperchap2 By Jes Egan

A few months ago I wrote a post about service design, and today I’d like to talk about an aspect of business that is closely related: looking at the journey a customer or potential customer might take with your business and ensuring you understand how to possibly maximise this space. Not necessarily just for sales, but to build your customer relationships and to ensure that they see and engage with your business at certain stages.

When I first started working at a big ad agency in London I was told: “It is cheaper to keep an existing customer than to gain a new one”. To this day I still believe this to be true. There are many ways to keep a customer happy, but one way that I believe can work across many different disciplines, industries, products or services is to understand and get to know your customer and their journey that they take with your business. I’ve heard people say to think of it as your customer’s story, imagine they’re telling you the process they went through from when they thought they might need your product/service to how they made the purchasing decision and what happened after they paid.

Putting together a customer journey map will help you find opportunities that are possibly not being used to their full potential. Simply, it is putting your customer at the forefront of your business, making you think about their needs and requirements in relation to what you do.

So, where do you start?

Getting to know your customer How well do you know your customer? This is a question that we should all ask of our businesses. Sometimes we think we know more than we actually do and it can be detrimental. We have to be careful of making decisions about our customers based on assumptions. However, there are many ways to get to know them through a little bit of research: look at your existing sales data, web analytics, social media followers - these are examples of things you can quickly review to find insights about your customers, e.g. where they’re coming from, what they’re searching, or what they are saying.

Anecdotal research, such as surveys or asking questions of your followers on social media, are great ways to get a quick understanding about who they are if you don’t have access to other data. If you are lucky enough to have staff working for you, remember to ask them about their insights into your customer base too, as your ‘front line staff’ can be a wonderful source of information.

Customer journey map A customer journey map is a map of the process people go through when they start to look for what they want, how they get to the purchasing decision, then how they deal with your company and what happens after that. Usually a customer journey map is best understood when displayed as an infographic or a table. There are many different ways to map the process (and there are even online tools to do this if you’re willing to pay for them). The following five channel phases are a guide and a possible place to start creating a customer journey map for your business.

Awareness / Research How someone becomes aware of a product or service is something personally I find really interesting. Do they see it on someone they admire, in a shop or in advertising? Once aware of a product or service, it’s not uncommon for a customer to use the internet, Instagram, Google, Pinterest along with the traditional channels of stores, markets, etc to do additional research before they get to ‘buy’.

The question for you, is: Is your business visible in all the places where people might look to find you or start researching for your type of product or service?

Evaluation This is when a potential customer evaluates like companies / products, and weighs the the pros and cons between them (and this isn’t always about price), before making a decision on which one they like or are more suited to. This might be achieved by be looking at comparison sites or just reviewing a range in a shop.

Question for you: How do you compare to your competitors in this phase? Is your USP (unique selling point) standing out in this stage? How can you stand out enough to ensure that you are the one they chose?

Purchase The next phase is to understand where and how your customers make their purchase. Is it purely an online purchase? Is it through a third party supplier? Or do they buy it from you at a market, trade show etc? Another pertinent question here is also: where do they want to purchase? Not everyone wants to buy online, and often this decision depends on your audience and what you’re selling. Be where customers expect you to be, as well as want you to be.

Delivery Think about how your customer receives what you are offering. Is it a face to face sale? Are you delivering a service personally or via online/telephone communication? Do they pick the item up or does it get delivered (by post or courier?). Question for you: Where is your customer when they get to this touch point, and what is the experience they are receiving?

After sales / post purchase Once your customer has the product or service, consider if there is any further communication between you and your customer. Do they purchase again? Do they post pictures/comments on social media of their purchase, if they’re happy or not? Do they come back into the shop or write a review? Think about how you can be more involved in the process, become aware of their thoughts and reactions, and importantly, how do you respond to positive and negative feedback?

Here is an example of how I might start to put together a customer journey map. Once I’ve got all the information I’ll then get it nicely put together in a digital version.

Customer Journey Map

Getting to know your customer’s journey is really important, there are many insights you can take from it if you get the information right. By acknowledging and mapping it you can see where you might be able to make tweaks or changes and help build a better customer relationship. It goes back to what I said at the beginning: It’s cheaper to keep an existing one then gain a new one, so it’s a great investment in your creative business to get to know the ones you’ve got.

Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist, a university lecturer, and small business owner who can creatively be found cutting up a storm at Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook.