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How to Map Out Your Customer Journey

Do you understand the journey that your customer takes when discovering your brand for the first time? When first using your products and services? When deciding whether to renew a subscription or make more purchases?

Mapping out your customer journey can help you better understand your customers, master your brand’s customer experience, and ultimately increase your chances of long-term success.

Understanding Customer Experience

Before you can get much value from your customer journey map, you need to understand the concept of customer experience. Customer experience and customer service are often confused terms, but they’re distinct from each other. Customer service is all about providing support to customers when they need it, whether by troubleshooting, answering questions, or making up for grievances.

Customer experience, on the other hand, is much broader. It refers to every interaction a customer has with your brand, from first encountering it to making ongoing purchases. Customer service can be a part of it, but customer experience is a much bigger concept.

Better customer experience means easier customer acquisition, much better customer retention, a better reputation, and eventually, higher revenue and profitability. Mapping your customer journey is one tool in your arsenal to better understand and improve your customer experience.

What Is Customer Journey Mapping?

What is customer journey mapping?

It’s essentially a way of documenting the “journey” an average customer takes. You’ll write down, research, and analyze the various steps taken by the people who eventually become your customers.

This can help you in several ways.

·         Better understanding of customer experience. Your main goal is to understand your customer experience better. Where is it strong? Where is it weak? How can you improve it overall?

·         Improving and unifying sales, marketing, and customer service. The customer journey is also a great way to conceptualize the interactions between your sales, marketing, customer service, and other departments. Each of these departments is responsible for a different aspect of the customer journey or customer experience, and they need to work together for the best results.

·         Better targeting with content, ads, and interactions. Better understanding your customers means you’ll be able to develop better content, ads, and interactions for them. You’ll have more specific targeting, and your perceived relevance and authority will increase.

·         Setting better goals. With the data you gather from your customer journey map, you’ll be able to set smarter customer service and customer experience goals; you can set firm targets for each phase of the customer journey, and know when your strategy is off.

The Phases of a Customer Journey

The easiest way to map out a customer journey is to start with a list of phases the average customer goes through.

These may look something like this:

·         Stranger. A person starts out completely unfamiliar with your brand. Maybe they’ve seen your name or logo, but they have no real impression of you.

·         Prospect/lead. At some point, they become aware of your brand; for example, they might have seen an advertisement. They become a prospect or a lead.

·         Qualified lead. Through your sales funnel, you’ll turn your prospect into a marketing qualified lead (MQL). In other words, they’re determined to be a strong candidate to convert into a customer.

·         Opportunity. When a qualified lead expresses interest or has a conversation with a salesperson, they become an opportunity.

·         Closed deal. A won sale is a closed deal—a full-fledged customer.

·         Experienced customer. After some time with your brand, your customer will become more knowledgeable and experienced, and their perspective on you will change.

·         Veteran customer. Some of your most valuable customers will stick around for years—or even a lifetime.

However, be aware that every brand is different, and your customer journey phases may be distinctive.

How to Define Each Phase

Once you’ve outlined the major steps a customer takes on their journey, you can start answering the important questions:

·         Who is this customer? It may seem obvious, but the nature of your audience is going to change throughout the phases of the average journey.

·         What are they thinking, feeling, and doing? What are the circumstances surrounding this person’s interaction?

·         Who is reaching this customer? How is this customer engaging with your brand? Did they read a piece of content? See an ad? Talk to a customer service agent?

·         What content are they interacting with? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your content? Are your materials guiding customers to the next phase of the journey successfully?

While it’s helpful to speculate and imagine the answers to these questions (and others), if you want to get better results, you need to get more objective evidence. Conduct surveys, perform market research, and collect data to answer these questions. When you’re done, you’ll be able to form much more reliable conclusions.