According to Watermark Consulting, customer experience leaders obtain returns up to 80% greater than customer experience laggards and yet more than half (55%) of senior marketers said they were not confident in their company's understanding of the customer journey according to eMarketer.
The most successful businesses today have clearly identified the needs of their best customer and are obsessing daily to satisfy those needs. Here are the 4 parts to mapping your customer's journey.
- Discovery. Simply put, how are your ideal customers finding your business today? If you don't know, the good news is that there is plenty of data available to answer this question. 67% of any buyer's journey is now done digitally, and this means an increasing reliance on data to drive decisions. Between Google analytics and your social media analytics reports, you have access to the information you need to understand how your customers are finding you now.
Discovery is where most businesses spend the bulk of their advertising and marketing budgets. Unfortunately, the very customers you're looking to attract have become extremely proficient at filtering out traditional advertising (mass media) messaging.
According to Nielson, recommendations from friends remain the most credible form of advertising among consumers. While Nielson says 83% percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family, some estimates are as high as 92%. This means that the best possible way a consumer can discover your business is through one of their peers (see related article on influencer marketing). We'll revisit this insight in part four: Advocacy.
- Activation (or Engagement). Once your business has been discovered by your ideal customer, you now have to ask yourself how do they want to engage with you? Most businesses have a preferred method of how you want to engage with your customer (which is backwards). How often do you see someone complaining to a company on Facebook being referred to call a customer service number?
Mapping your customer's journey is not about they systems and process you've created, but rather understanding your customer's wants and needs. While you have established a call center, it's a poor customer experience if you're forcing your ideal customer to adhere to what you want rather than giving them what they want. "Content marketers need to keep one eye on customer needs and the other on business needs" says Marcia Johnson.
- Transaction. This is what every business naturally tracks, measures and obsesses over. After all, if you're not driving sales, then what's the point of your business? But do you fully appreciate what your ideal customer needs in order to transact with you? Mapping your customer's journey is about deeply understanding the triggers that lead to a sale. What must your ideal customer see, hear, feel and know before they decide to pull out their credit card (or issue a Purchase Order) to transact with you? What drives the purchase decision?
While we may attribute the success of a sale to a particular form of advertising or other awareness driving activity, mapping the customer journey is about getting smart about what the actual trigger was that went beyond awareness and intellectual curiosity and instead resulted in the motivation to take action and make a purchase decision. What is it for your customers? If you don't know, when's the last time you asked them? Perhaps more importantly, why didn't your ideal customer buy from you? If 95% of your ideal customers are not buying from you (even after they've heard your message), then it's vitally important to understand why they chose not to buy from you. This will help you improve your product and offering which will further ignite your sales growth.
- Advocacy. This is the most often over looked and under-appreciated aspect of the customer journey. By some estimates, it's 6 times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. Moreover, the probability of selling to an existing customer is up to 14 times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer. And, if that weren't enough to focus on your best customers, then consider this. If your customers are satisfied by the complete business experience you deliver, 73% of consumers will recommend a brand to others, and 46% say they will trust that brand's products and services above all others.
Despite my best efforts, there's no way I can give you everything you'd ever need to know about mapping your customer journey in a single article. What I did want to impress upon you here is the vital importance of why you MUST map your customer's journey so that you can get clear on what you need to do in order to continuously improve upon the experience you deliver to your ideal customers.
My team at Trepoint has enjoyed helping companies map their customer's journey as the breakthroughs that come through these exercises are powerful and immediately actionable. There's no greater satisfaction than looking at a well-designed customer journey map and fully understanding where you, as a business owner, need to focus your time and energy to dramatically increase your customer's experience.
As you can probably guess, there are many different ways to accomplish what we've just gone through. While there's no perfect version of customer journey mapping, I'm a big fan of Jay Baer's Content Marketing Institute. Last month they published a great template to help you map your customer's journey. If you're a "do-it-yourself" type person, this article provides a deeper dive step-by-step option for you to think through precisely what your customers' need at each step of their journey.
Let's make 2017 the year that we've not only identified, but also visually mapped out what your ideal customer needs from you at each step of their journey. After all, once you've crisply defined what you need to go get done, you're well positioned to accomplish the outcomes you seek.