How to Use Your Customer's Journey to your Advantage
On some level, of course you know that every user is exactly like you are. We all discover new products all the time and we know first-hand how fickle our own purchasing decisions can be sometimes. But when we’re marketing a product, we often assume a much more straightforward interaction. Marketing is often simply more complex than just:
- Is the product good? ✔️
- Am I accurately outlining its good features to my target audience? ✔️
- Do people seem satisfied with the product? ✔️
But this sort of calculation doesn’t account for the entire customer journey. The product may be king, but if the user’s journey from initial discovery of the product through the end of it is suboptimal, then you’re losing money. Moreover, modern purchases are no longer as simple as they used to be in the past. Now customers come in contact with you and your product over a multitude of different media, each one both separate and connected, and you have to make sure that they’re satisfied at each step rather than just the one.
Looking at a customer’s journey holistically lets you take in every step of their interactions with the company and/or product, from the first time they hear of the product to either them dropping it or becoming a loyal customer.
As this map outline (it starts from the gray “out of market” and travels to the green “loyalty”), customers are initially triggered – you’ve managed to raise awareness of your brand. They then might ask more about your product, compare your brand with competitors, before finally deciding whether or not to purchase it. From there, the customer starts using your product, and how happy they are with it determines whether or not they will become a repeat and loyal customer.
Make sense? Ok, well.
Why should you View your UX Through the Lens of your Customer Journey?
If you don’t already, don’t worry – you’re not alone! The Aberdeen Group found that only 36% of companies have a process in place to map out their customer’s journey. But customers themselves universally respond to products that work to understand their entire journey and design a UX as a result.
86% of all customers will spend more on products that feature a great customer experience. This is why the 2019 State of Customer Journey Management and CX Measurement listed Mapping the customer journey as the number one strategy companies have at their disposal to improve UX.
But there are more ways that tracking a customer’s journey benefits your company. That same study from the Aberdeen Group lists 3 ways in which you’ll benefit from mapping their journey.
Reduce Costs and Increase Sales
As the first bar in the graph shows, brands that map out their customer’s journey experience a 54% greater return on marketing investment than brands that don’t. This is in addition to an average sales cycle 18 times faster (as seen in the 3rd bar), meaning that you sell more, faster.
Increase Customer Engagement
Customer engagement can be one of the major pitfalls of losing customers even when the product is considered outstanding. If customers can’t reach your salespeople, or are not enjoying their experiences with your customer service agents, then you will likely lose the customer – and in theory could even produce knock-on effects of that customer leaving bad reviews and spoiling your product for future customers.
When you focus on data surrounding the entire journey, you can identify when and where you are losing customers and apply fixes to specific areas, reducing your overall costs (because you’re targeting the true nadirs of the problem) and increasing your engagement all at the same time.
This is especially key in acquiring data, where whatever the last interaction the customer had is given as the reason for losing them. More often, dissatisfaction builds up over time and the loss is the “straw that broke the camel’s back” (whether it be an offer from a competitor, a final flaw in the product, or something else).
Customer journey analytics provides data for each step of their journey, so you can pinpoint where dissatisfaction is strong rather than just noting the loss of a customer.
Increase Loyalty to the Product
This is a natural outcropping of the previous benefit. When you’re creating a better holistic experience, that only increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. When the customer loves your product and their entire experience with it, then you’ve very likely made a customer that will last with your brand for a very long time.
Ok… so how exactly do I follow a Customer Journey?
Each product and UX is different, of course, so there is no one model to fit all. But data is key in however you proceed. Collect basic feedback regarding the specific personas of your target audience. What are their goals, and how do they interact with your product? For customers who’ve stopped using your product, what was it that caused them to abandon usage – look for data beyond simply the final step in their journey (ie a customer might call a call center and report that they were unhappy with the customer service, but presumably there were problems leading up to that point that forced them to call in, and the call center was the aforementioned “last straw.”).
Only 1 in 5 businesses collect this kind of feedback – a number that dovetails with indicators that most companies don’t track customer journeys in the first place. Furthermore, the Temkin Group performed a study indicating that loyal customers are 5 times more likely to repurchase, 5 times more likely to forgive mistakes, 7 times as likely to try new offerings, and 4 times as likely to refer other customers after looking through customer journey analytics. Again, collecting data on every step of your customer’s journey will only increase your company’s profitability and make your job all that much easier.
Your customer is and always will be the most important part of selling your product and moving forward as a company. Customer journey mapping lets you know exactly who your customers are and how they interact with your product, from one step of their journey onto the next. It allows you to optimize every one of these steps, from optimizing your triggers, how purchasing decisions are made all the way to optimizing your customer’s experience with your product. This in turn changes your customer’s overall experience forever to maximize your own product.
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