Mapping the Customer Journey


The state of brand-consumer relationships hasn’t been too hot, according to a recent Silverpop webinar, “Using Customer Journey Planning to Drive Your Digital Marketing Success.” In the ideal relationship, both parties are on the same page. Recent data shows that brands and consumers are pages apart, if not in completely different books. This scary reality is neither good for a business’ revenue nor a customer’s experience.

The Consumer Conversation report by eConsultancy makes the disparity between what brands think and what customers say very clear. Here are some examples:

  • 69% of brands say they offer a superior online experience, yet 51% of customers who left a company blamed their exit on bad online experiences.
  • A whopping 81% of companies also believe they either have or are close to having a holistic view of their customers. In reality, only 37% of consumers say their favorite retailer understands them.
  • 47% percent of brands report they have a “strong capability” for providing relevant communications, but only 35% of consumers say communications from their favorite brands are usually relevant.
  • As for conflict resolution, 89% of brands are satisfied with their ability to resolve conflicts with customers, but only 35% of consumers who had a significant customer service issue in the last twelve months say the company resolved their conflict “very effectively.”

While these numbers are consumer-focused, these same gaps apply to business-to-business companies and associations. A lot of time is spent on closing the deal, but how do you keep cultivating the relationship long after the initial sale? The Silverpop webinar recommends customer journey mapping.

Activation

A true brand-consumer relationship begins with activation, which involves making customers aware of your brand by focusing on what’s most important to them, preferences, etc. Create customer personas such as “First-Time Buyer,” “Executive Decision Maker” or “Insurance Agent” and tailor the experience to each one. Start with basic categories/personas and then add micro-personas (e.g., Insurance Agent, age 35-60). Name your personas to give them more personality. Think about demographics, what they care about and how they buy. Then tailor communication and engagement to the personas.

Cultivation

Once you have the attention of your customers, map out an experience for each persona through each phase of their journey, such as acquisition, welcome, loyalty, renewal and reactivation. Customize the path for each persona by stepping into their mindset and going through their specific journey. Remember, the more personalized you make each customer experience, the better they’ll perceive the relationship with the brand. Each contact between brand and persona is called a touch point. You’ll want to note the action, channel, sentiment and asset for each touch point. A useful tool to visualize cultivation is a chart with personas that demonstrate each phase of the journey. Then fill out each block with specific actions. Customer Journey Planning Slide

Evaluation

Finally, regularly evaluate each journey for improvement. Questions to ask include:

  • Are you engaging and supporting your customers at every touch point?
  • Are there communication gaps you can fill?
  • Would your customers benefit from additional information (e.g. knowledge of another offering that represents another sales opportunity or way to show value)?

Identifying and implementing strategies to address these answers will not only build revenue, but customer loyalty.

Customer journey mapping helps you get to know your customers on a deeper level so you can design great experiences for each, turning them into lifelong ambassadors for your brand. How in tune is your business with its various customers? Comment below on how you can make 2015 your best customer service year yet.


Kaitor K • July 17, 2015

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