Customer Journey: All customer journeys lead to conversions

May 18, 2020

12 mins read

Tanuj Diwan

Any business transaction is not a single standalone activity. It is the culmination of several activities, steps, and even decisions. A customer journey is a path that a customer traverses through before arriving at that final activity of purchase.

Sounds complicated? Let’s uncomplicate it.

Imagine a customer walking into your store for the first time. How do they go about finding what they want?

What products do they browse?

What information do they look for before adding the product to their shopping cart?

Do they look around for help or do they make an independent decision?

Do they buy immediately or come again another day to complete the purchase?

These are the questions that a customer journey tries to answer. A wise business owner will also craft the customer journey in such a way that it leads to maximum sales, or rather conversions as in eCommerce parlance.

A customer journey is a map of how the customer gets introduced to the business or its product and ultimately becomes its paying customer. A customer journey is a map that turns a stranger into a loyal customer.

For example, every single step that a customer goes through from stumbling upon a social media post of the business to completing the online purchase and getting a ‘Thank you for your order’ message.

Why should your business take customer journeys seriously?

67% of the buyer’s journey is now completed digitally.

Crafting a compelling digital experience would enable the business to connect with customers better and also achieve a higher conversion rate.

That brings us to the topic – Stages in the customer journey.

Stages in a customer journey

By now you must have got the hint that a customer journey is not a single step or activity. It is rather a several stages of a transaction that make the prospect into a paying customer.

During each stage, the customer would undergo several changes in mindset and decision-making capabilities.

Each stage of the customer journey also offers the business a personalized way of marketing to advance the customer towards the purchase.

That said, these are the common stages of a customer journey:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Decision
  4. Retention
  5. Advocacy

Customer Journey Mapping

#1. Awareness

Awareness is the stage during which customers come to the understanding that they have a pain point that can be addressed by a specific product or service.

They are curious and probably would be on the lookout for solutions that can resolve the pain areas.

At the awareness stage, the customer is looking for information and not a sales pitch. So, it is the onus of the business to build trust, create rapport, and arrive at a consensus with the customer.

The consensus should be that the business offerings could be a good match for the customer needs.

The awareness stage is also crucial because today’s customers are bombarded with information from all sides.

They conduct their own research and study before arriving at a final choice.

So, it would be better if the business uses collaterals like those mentioned below:

  • How-to blogs or videos
  • eBooks
  • Guides
  • Industry reports
  • Checklists

#2. Interest

Once the customers have some awareness about the product they will soon develop an interest in knowing more about the product and its features. This reflects in the interest stage.

The interest stage is the stage during which they are actively aware of the product and its possibilities.

To further validate their understanding, they will start comparing it with other alternatives available in the market.

This makes it imperative for the business to position itself in such a way that, when compared with the competition they come out as better choices.

In other words, the ‘Interest’ stage is where customers do pricing comparisons, read online reviews, compare with the competition, and do a deep dive into the product.

To quench the customer’s want for information and to fuel their interest into consideration, a business can use several collaterals like:

  • Comparison pages
  • Pricing pages
  • Competitor battle cards
  • Product webinars
  • Case studies
  • Datasheets
  • Demo videos, etc.

All these collaterals can show to the customer that you care for them and are a better alternative when compared to the competition.

#3. Decision

The third stage in the customer journey is where the fruit of the previous two stages will be delivered. In the decision stage, the customers take an informed decision based on the facts that their study has unearthed.

The decision is usually an action of purchase. It may also be a sign up for a software product, enrolling for an online class so and so forth.

The decision stage is also where the customer would need the final nudge to take the final action.

Despite all the research and market study, they still might need assurance that their choice is the right one.

This can be delivered with the help of personalized walkthroughs, customized customer portals, an exhibit of case studies of identical use cases, etc.

Additionally, if resources permit, the business can also provide the customer with a discount or promo coupons that can lower costs for them.

Furthermore, the standard route of free trial for a limited period of time for higher plans may also be suggested.

#4. Retention

Most businesses make the mistake of winding down their customer support and customer experience once the customer is acquired.

This is a huge mistake. Customer retention is as important as new customer acquisition. In fact, if studies are to be relied upon, retention weighs more in importance than acquisition.

It is because it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer.

Also, a combined study by Bain & Co. along with Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School, found that improving customer retention by a mere 5% can have an overall 25% to 95% increase in profits.

So, it is necessary for businesses to spend as much effort on customer retention as it is for customer acquisition.

Customer retention helps a business ave the costs that otherwise have to be spent on marketing, customer training, new customer onboarding, etc.

So, it is necessary for businesses to spend as much effort on customer retention as it is for customer acquisition.

Customer retention helps a business ave the costs that otherwise have to be spent on marketing, customer training, new customer onboarding, etc.

The fact that retention delivers so much value by itself makes it harder. It is not possible to retain customers with the default customer service.

The business has to g beyond to gather Customer feedback, act upon them, and prove that it actually cares and values for customers.

There are a handful of collaterals that help with this:

  • Customer surveys
  • Testimonial exhibits
  • Social media features

#5. Advocacy

In a way, there is no end to customer advocacy, because, once a customer, always a customer. Or at least, a business must try hard to keep its customers at all times without losing them to the competition.

Customer advocacy helps with that. Customer advocacy is the stage in the customer journey when the customer becomes more than just a customer.

They become brand advocates who advocate the goodness of the brand and its products to their near and dear. They prove loyalty to the business by remaining active customers and also be referring to new customers.

In a way, we can easily consider this as zero-dollar advertising.

There are several tools that helps with measuring loyalty from customers and even employees. Net Promoter Score® tops the chart among them.

Net Promoter Score® or NPS® helps measure the loyalty of a customer or employee by estimating the likelihood of them referring the business to new customers.

Importance of customer journey

“A successful customer journey map will give you a real insight into what your customers want and any parts of your product, brand, or process that aren’t delivering.”

This one line depicts the overall importance of the customer journey. Without a customer journey map, your business will end up offering the wrong product offering at the wrong stage of the sales funnel.

Here are some more reasons why your business needs to focus on crafting the right customer journey.

Drive stage-wise marketing campaigns

As explained before, a customer traverses through various stages of decision-making before arriving at the purchase stage.

A customer journey can help the business to drive stage-wise marketing campaigns that will resonate with the information asked of the customer at a particular stage. This would result in higher conversions.

Craft a personalized customer experience at each stage

In today’s digital world, more than pricing, it is a customer experience that attracts and makes customers stay.

A customer journey would help in creating personalized customer experiences at each stage of the journey. The RoI for this would be customer loyalty and a prolonged Customer Lifetime Value.

Direct customers to the right offering quickly

A well-crafted customer journey makes it easier for customers to easily navigate to the product or services section that they are looking for. It eliminates the need to rely on a store assistant or chat support in case of a website/mobile app to find information.

Creates a customer-centric culture

The core trait of a customer-centric business is to make things easy for customers. A customer journey does exactly that.

Be it feeding information while considering a product or seeking support after the purchase, a customer journey makes things easy for culture.

As a by-product, it also grooms a customer-centric culture in the organization.

Steps to design a customer journey map

Creating a customer journey requires some groundwork. The following steps can help you design a proper customer journey that will work well with your customers.

Create a user persona

A user persona is the fictional depiction of your ideal customer, their age, gender, online and offline activities, common pain areas, spending habits, and so on. The user persona is what sets the direction towards creating the complete customer journey.

List buyer motives

What are the motives that trigger the customer to make a purchase? Is it a leisurely purchase or a necessity? Depending on the motive, the customer journey can be personalized, elongated or shortened, interactive or reactive.

Map customer touchpoints

Do customers flock in through online channels or offline channels? Are there offline stores where customers might browse before making a purchase? Or is it an omnichannel route that customers would take before making a purchase? These are some questions that would help craft the right customer journey.

List customer pain points

What pain points are the customers facing? What kind of solutions are they expecting? Is it a single fix like a product or a service that gets things done over a period of time. Depending on the pain points, the customer journey can be designed for quick discoverability or for gradual lead nurturing.

Identify roadblocks to purchase

From awareness until the decision stage, what kind of roadblocks do customers face? Identifying these roadblocks will enable the business to craft a customer journey that bypasses them as well as accelerates the customer from awareness to decision and beyond.

Trial the journey and improve

Like all things that get better with time and improvisations, even customer journeys can be improved with continuous testing and improvements. There is no get-it-right first time. Constant testing, analyzing, and even gathering customer inputs is what is going to deliver a better journey.

Methods to map the customer journey

By now you must have understood that the customer journey is a stage-by-stage process. There is a lot of thought that goes into creating a customer journey. Also, there are several methods that one can follow to create the right customer journey.

Some of them are as below:

Tracking website behavior

If you are running an online store or has a website that is generating most of the leads, the best way to begin designing a customer journey is with the website behavior.

There are heatmap tools that show where the user spends most of the time, what buttons or links they click on, and how deep into the web page they scroll to obtain information. Armed with such data, you can easily craft a customer journey that will maximize your conversions.

Tracking in-store behavior

In-store user behavior is also similar to website behavior. The difference being that users scroll in websites while they stroll in the store. They follow a specific route in the store in discovering and adding goods to their shopping carts.

Retail stores like IKEA have already recognized the fact that designing an in-store planogram that reflects the user behavior and expectations can take sales through the roof. If planned wisely, it can even make the customer shop for items that they never intended to buy.

Market research

There is nothing that beats the good old’ market research when it comes to creating a customer journey. In fact, it should be the first go-to method for businesses that are crafting their first customer journey.

Market research for the customer journey can be done in two ways:

  • Online surveys through social media, email, in-app notifications, etc.
  • Secondly, you can resort to offline means which include interviews, quizzes, suggestion notes, and so on.

These are the most common methods one can deploy to create a customer journey.

In a nutshell

The customer journey is the various stages through which a customer passes through before they arrive at the decision to make a purchase. At each stage of the journey, they undergo several information needs, varying customer expectations, and doubts that the business has to answer.

Positioning the right marketing collateral can help smoothen the customer journey and improve the overall conversion rates.

A customer journey is not a haphazard route, but rather a detailed plan that sketches what a customer could be doing and would be wanting at each stage.

There are several methods of customer journey mapping that helps create the right collateral for each stage. If done right, it could even make customers spend more than what they had initially planned to purchase.

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