What is the customer journey? How can it benefit your business?
I'm going to answer these questions and more in this article.
It's so easy for us to focus on getting leads and converting those leads into sales. A lot of businesses feel like their job is pretty much done at this point, but a deeper look into the customer journey will prove this to be very short-sighted.
Let's dig into it...
What is the Customer Journey?
The entire experience a customer has from the time they become aware of your company all the way through the after purchase experience is considered the customer journey.
It involves the interactions of the customer with your company from the moment they learn about you to the time when they buy your products or services and beyond.
Many people also refer to this as the customer experience.
Many of you might ask, "Aren't sales enough?". Well, getting people to buy your product or service is just one step of the entire customer journey.
If all you focus on is the sales part of the journey, your business will suffer. You will miss opportunities to engage more potential customers ahead of a sale, and you'll drop the ball after the sale is made.
This is why understanding the customer journey is so important...
The Benefits of Optimizing The Customer Journey
Now that you have a brief understanding of what the customer journey is let's look at the benefits of optimizing the customer experience for your business.
Here are a few of the many benefits...
1. You'll know about all the touchpoints.
When you identify and understand all the touchpoints a customer has during the customer journey with your business, you can optimize every interaction the customer has.
Without knowing all the touchpoints, you may not be aware your company is dropping the ball at specific before or after the sale touchpoints, for example. That can negatively impact your business, right?
2. You can address customer needs effectively.
The needs and desires of a customer are very different at each point in the customer experience.
For example, the needs of a home buyer before and after the sale are quite different, aren't they?
By knowing about every touchpoint in the customer experience, you can create plans, processes, systems, and procedures to meet the needs of the customer throughout their journey with you.
3. You can fix gaps and shortfalls in the customer journey.
When you know about all the customer touchpoints, you can analyze how your company is performing at every step along the way.
Now you can fix any gaps and shortfalls to ensure the customer experience is as good as it can possibly be!
4. You can optimize your lead conversion and sales processes.
Remember what I said in tip #2? The needs of the customer at each touchpoint are different.
When you understand this, you can optimize your touchpoints before the sale to effectively address the needs of the prospect. Do you see how this can improve your lead conversions?
Same goes for your sales process. By understanding the needs of the customer at the sales touchpoints, you can not only meet but exceed their expectations. Pretty awesome, right?
5. You can maximize your repeat and referral business.
When you nail every touchpoint in the customer journey, your customers can't help but enjoy the process of doing business with you. This encourages repeat business and more referrals.
If a customer had a great experience, they'll want the people they know to experience the exact same thing.
Pretty sweet benefits, right? But, how do you look at and evaluate the customer journey? Are there tools to help you understand it?
Read on to find out...
The Marketing Hourglass (aka The Customer Journey)
As a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant, we subscribe to the philosophy that the customer journey should be looked at just like an hourglass.
The Marketing Hourglass is a tool that can help you outline the progression of a customer from awareness to purchase and beyond. The hourglass extends the customer journey beyond the purchase as the customer does repeat business and refers your company to others.
The Marketing Hourglass has 7 important phases.
1. The Know Phase - How do I spread awareness?
Also known as the "Awareness Phase." Search engine optimization, advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, and word of mouth need to start here.
The Know phase requires the use of content in some way, shape, or form to increase awareness of what your business does and how you can help people.
Some examples of types of content that spread awareness:
- eBooks, Checklists, etc.
- Training, workshops, webinars, etc.
- Social media content
- Blog articles
2. The Like Phase - How do I keep them interested?
Once you spark awareness, you have to give people enough reasons to come back, relate to, and like you. The Like phase cements your relationship with customers.
Podcasts, videos, and blogs can help nurture leads because they show expertise, knowledge, resources, and experience over time.
Other types of content that keep people interested and help them like you are:
3. The Trust Phase - How do I help them trust me?
After spreading awareness and getting people to like you, it's time to help them trust you.
The Trust phase is where reviews, testimonials, and other forms of business achievements come into play. Your social proof is the ultimate reason why customers will trust your business.
This phase requires you to manage your reputation both online and offline to ensure that nothing and no one falls through the cracks.
Much of the content in steps 1 and 2 can also be used to build trust, but here are some additional types of content that build trust:
- Online reviews
- Customer testimonials
- Certifications & accreditations
- Industry associations
- Case studies
4. The Try Phase - How do I encourage them to try what I have to offer?
Once you gain a person's trust, the next phase is to get them to try your business.
In this phase, something free or low cost with no long term commitment is a great way for potential customers to "try" what it's like to work with you. Here are a few examples,
- Software company: 14-day free trial.
- Business coach: free consulting session.
- Ice cream shop: free samples.
Think of the Try phase as a tryout or audition where you need to walk the talk by delivering more than what you promised.
5. The Buy Phase - How do I keep the experience great?
You got the customer to make a purchase. Now you need to focus on keeping the experience amazing.
What can you do during the buying phase to amaze the customer and make it easy for them? Having some of the following tools at this stage will help tremendously:
- Standard onboarding process
- New customer orientation kits
- Exceptional customer support
6. The Repeat Phase - How do I create repeat business?
As I've mentioned earlier, making a sale is just one piece of the whole customer journey. You need to make sure that your customers will come back for more...
It's much cheaper to do more business with your existing customers than to find new ones!
The Repeat phase is about providing more value to your customers. You've already helped them, but what else can you do to help?
Repeat business is the result of effective upselling, cross-selling, and an after the sale review process.
7. The Refer Phase - How do I get referrals?
If you've nailed the first 6 steps, then you can expect that word of mouth will spread about your business.
But, you've also got to have a step in this phase to ask customers for referrals.
If you want to take it to the next level, you might want to consider implementing a referral program to encourage current customers to drive new customers to your business.
Do you see how the Marketing Hourglass makes it pretty simple to understand and identify the touchpoints in the customer journey? I hope so.
I really like the Marketing Hourglass as a tool to understand the customer journey because it's simple and easy to understand.
Did this help you understand the importance of the customer journey? Feel free to comment below and/or ask questions.
Next week, I'll dig into how to create a customer journey map for your business...
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