Why the Customer Journey matters most

The Customer Journey can be defined as the entirety of the interactions and experiences between an organisation and its customers, throughout the duration of their relationship. It goes beyond the individual transactions between customer and company and includes everything from offline and online marketing, customer support, communication throughout the decisioning and purchase process, to aftersales support. In the age of social media, it can be expanded to include your customers interactions with their followers about your company and products, whether reviews and recommendations, or talking negatively about your brand due to a poor experience.

Defining your Customer Journey

The overall Customer Journey can be, and often is, a massively complex thing with hundreds of different destinations and waypoints connected by multiple different routes, with few people following the same path. Accurately mapping this complete journey including every possible route and outcome is something that could be of value to a company, but at great expense – complexity and the fact it is everchanging, make it something few organisations (if any), successfully achieve and maintain.

By choosing to instead identify a ‘typical’ journey or journeys throughout the customers relationship with your organisation, the process becomes far more manageable and should be representative of the experience a large number of your customers share with your company.

It is also possible to break the overall journey down into smaller separate journeys, for example a Welcome Journey, when a customer first starts their relationship with you, or a Re-engagement Journey when the communications with a customer have become one-way.

Benefits

Once the current journey that your customers are taking has been mapped out, you can start to gain insight into what parts are working and driving customers towards a desired outcome, and which parts could be improved, or removed all together.

For example, in a welcome journey, you may notice that sending a marketing communication to new customers immediately after they sign up to your website could be causing high rates of disengagement – by replacing that initial communication with a non-marketing welcome email, explaining more about your company or website, and then following that up after a period of time with a more light-touch marketing email, engagement might be improved. Through further testing and analysis, you could tweak the timings, type and amount of communications to maximise potential.

Analysis of the after-sales journey for a particular product might highlight that sending a communication thanking the customer for their order and asking if they are happy with their product has increased positive comments in social media and driven an increase in positive product reviews. Implementing a similar journey across the product portfolio could lead to a greatly improved social media presence along with positive reviews, driving traffic to your website and ultimately improving sales.

By identifying what is working well, and what is not, it becomes possible to streamline the customer journey, removing unnecessary communications, and increasing the communications that drive towards the desired outcome.

Whereas a good customer journey leads to a good customer experience, improving customer satisfaction and engagement and increasing sales and profitability, a bad customer journey not only has the potential to reduce sales and profitability (not to mention email sender reputation, reducing email deliverability), but also alienate your current customers and negatively affect your brand amongst potential customers. Poor comments and reviews in social media can cause a potential customer to avoid engaging with your brand – a bad reputation is far harder to reverse than a good one!

It is possible that what works well for one customer segment, may not work well for another, so it is important to understand this and tailor your journeys accordingly.

There are many tools available from multiple vendors to help define, improve and run your customer journeys. If you would like more information, or help with your customer journeys, then please get in touch.

By Robin Humphrys-SmithPrincipal Consultant