Understanding the Customer Journey: Your Complete Guide

The customer journey: it’s one of the essential elements of running a business. But do you know what it looks like or why you need to understand it? In this post, we’ll talk about what the customer journey is, why you need to create one, and how you go about doing that.

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Defining the Customer Journey

Think of it this way: it’s a story that helps you understand your users, their behaviors, their desires, and their pain points. While a defined customer journey is vital for people optimizing their sites for SEO, it’s also a big part of good B2B and B2C operations.

The customer journey is essentially the process the customer takes to get from the point of initially discovering your brand to purchasing from you. To illustrate the point, here’s a great graphic from Columbia Road:

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Don’t let the above image scare you- it’s very in-depth. Mostly, though, the customer journey involves mapping out different behavioral scenarios using your existing data.

5 Benefits of Defining a Customer Journey

Developing a defined customer journey has many significant advantages. Here are a few of the largest:

1. IT HELPS YOU STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR CUSTOMERS

When you run a business, there are lots of different things to focus on. In the fray, many people get distracted from the most important consideration – the customer. Luckily, drawing up a customer journey allows you to stay focused on your customers. This, in turn, enables you to provide better customer service and keep your customers happy. 

2. IT STREAMLINES THE PROCESS FOR YOUR LEADS

Navigating your sales pipeline should be easy for customers. Unfortunately, things can get sticky unless you’ve put some thought into how customers feel as they move through your pipeline. This is yet another benefit of defining a customer journey: it helps simplify and streamline the buying experience for potential leads. 

3. CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPS PROVIDE CONTEXT FOR YOUR COMPANY

If you don’t understand your customer journey, you’re not familiar enough with your target audience. If that’s the case, how can you be sure that you’re engaging the right people with the right offers and marketing messages? 

In the age of personalization, you can’t afford to have a shallow understanding of what your customers need and want. Luckily, creating a customer journey map allows you to understand your customers and how best to market to them.

4. IT WILL ENABLE YOU TO DRIVE BETTER RESULTS

According to a 2018 customer journey mapping report, 67% of customer experience pros are using or have previously used customer journey mapping. Even better, 90% of those using mapping say the process offers a high ROI. The reason for this is simple: an excellent customer journey map means more conversions, lower churn, and fewer complaints from your shoppers.

5. IT MAKES YOU A MORE COMPASSIONATE COMPANY

In addition to being the age of hyper-personalization, this is also the age of humanized companies. By establishing a customer journey map, you can become more empathetic of your customer’s experiences and learn what makes them tick. This makes your company more approachable and believable for customers.

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4 Tips to Map Your Customer’s Journey

Now that you know what a customer journey map is and why it’s essential, here are a few tips for mapping your customer journey, step-by-step:

1. START WITH ANALYTICAL RESEARCH

Consult your website’s analytics to figure out where your customers are, how much time they’re spending on your site, and when and where they leave. This will give you the information you need to understand which tools to use and how best to interpret data. 

2. CONDUCT SOME ANECDOTAL RESEARCH

This next part can be tricky: you need to figure out what your customers are thinking. There are a few ways to do this. Social media, for one, is a helpful tool. You can also poll customers directly or have them fill out a survey about their experience with your company. Once you’ve compiled this data, you can distill it into your customer journey map.

3. IDENTIFY CUSTOMER TOUCHPOINTS

Any time a customer comes into contact with your brand, that interaction is known as a touchpoint. By understanding where your customer touchpoints are and how they occur, you can identify obstacles that appear throughout the customer journey. 

4. CREATE A GRAPHIC

Your graph doesn’t have to be as complicated as the one below, but it should include both analytical and anecdotal research insights, touchpoint information, and an intelligible layout. Use the graphic to define customer behavior, propose a solution for the problems, and identify successes. 

*How to build a customer journey map from  Bright Vessel.
How to build a customer journey map from Bright Vessel.

Mapping a Better Customer Journey

Mapping a customer journey seems intimidating, but it’s an essential part of running a good business. By following these tips you can draw up an accurate customer journey for your company and help ensure a smoother experience for your clients, as well.

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