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Understanding your customer and how they interact with your business directly and indirectly is critical in driving improved value, repeat business and longevity of relationship. To deliver this and to be able to create a communication strategy which builds a conversation with your customers, it helps to visualise current and planned customer journeys and the key touch points across different marketing channels.
So, where do you start when looking at your business and the journey a customer takes in the initial phases of a decision-making process and in follow-up phases as the relationship builds? This post has been written to provide advice and guidance to marketing professionals on the key steps to mapping your customer’s journey with you.
When beginning to look at a customer journey, a good place to start is the various touch points a customer has with your business. Although this is likely to expand with the following steps, it is an area where several stakeholders can be actively involved with different views on how the customer interacts with your business, be that from a customer service view-point, eCommerce, fulfilment, etc. To begin the discussion look at the core purchase channels as this will be well-defined within the business and should cover areas such as those in Fig 1:
You can then expand this to look at other areas such as:
The items covered above look at direct contacts, but not indirect contacts via social sites, word of mouth, customer reviews, etc; which should also be considered to build a complete picture of various touch points:
For each of the touch points in Fig 2 the customer will complete several actions and activities, which will be different for each industry and business, but could be summarised into the following classic types:
This can be expanded to cover key areas for your business (e.g. For a Hotel chain the use of product/service may want to be expanded to look at key elements such as check-in, use of amenities, check out & departure), but is best kept simple to begin with to allow initial customer journeys to be mapped and additional activities discovered and defined.
Now you have an idea of the customer touch points and activities completed, a simple table can be used to map the customer journey with activities listed across the top and the touch points down the left hand side, for example:
This can then be used to look at typical customer personas to map their journey from initial awareness, through purchase to bonding and sharing their satisfaction.
In the first instance use your own frame of reference to plot your journey when making that initial purchase with your business. For example in Fig 4 I have plotted a recent journey I completed when choosing a new mobile phone:
This provides key points on my journey and identifies influence and decision points, such as:
In this example I am a returning established customer and a new customer would have a different path, as would other customer personas for example, Early Adopters (Want latest technology), Basic Users (Only interested in using phone in emergencies), Social Connectors (Heavy users of twitter, facebook, etc). The key is to understand the path and steps each type of customer takes, using actual customer feedback and research if available.
Having built an understanding of the customer journeys with your business you are now in a position to improve the customer experience enabling:
In summary when mapping you customer journey remember the following key points:
Editor's note: More examples of customer journey mapping are available for Expert members in the Customer Persona Toolkit.
By Jim Roberts
Jim Roberts is the founder of the consultancy BlacklerRoberts Ltd and is an experienced marketing professional with over 18 years experience in the Direct Marketing arena across multiple industry sectors, including Financial, Leisure, Retail, and Charity. His passion is the delivery of value from data, using the customer and related information to deliver actionable insight driving improved customer value and understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.
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