Think about your own recent purchases. When did you think about whatever it is that you bought? Of course, the product or service differs based on what it is and what your need is. For example, going to the grocery store and purchasing a lettuce salad involves a completely different sort of input than, say, purchasing a new car. Even so, there are some things that are the same about any customer journey. For one thing, every person that you have to persuade to buy your goods or services is also being swayed to consider other competing products or services. You have to, in a very crowded marketplace, convince them that you have something more to offer than that other option. That means that you have to understand what’s happening along the customer journey, and what you can do to either improve or change yours for the better.
Take points of contact, for example. Customers no longer have just one point of contact. They may check out a website for information. They may visit a physical store to actually see merchandise for themselves. They may also call customer service (or do an online chat) in order to get specific questions answered. The more that you integrate those experiences and make them seamless, the better you’ll be and the closer you are to creating what’s called an omni-channel customer journey. That omni-channel customer experience includes touch points at every stage of the customer journey, from awareness to interest, evaluation, decision, and retention. It may include a variety of media, such as displays that a customer would notice or even just word of mouth — perhaps shared on social media channels. And it goes all the way through the whole customer journey, not just the product or service but afterwards with loyalty programs, newsletters, billing questions, and even post-purchase surveys.
Of course, it’s one thing to know about all those touch points in the customer journey. It’s quite another to actually map those out and to understand how each persona interacts and perhaps is tuned in (or tunes out) along the way. A map can increase your learning in both customer retention and customer satisfaction, and help you understand how you can grow loyalty — important for building sales and spreading word of mouth. What does that whole process look like? This graphic explains it in more detail and gets you on the path to creating your own customer experience map.
Kathryn Casna is a digital marketing and travel writer from San Diego, California.