What is a customer journey?
Digital marketing trainer and speaker from the Coloring In Department, Aiden Carroll, can hardly hold back a smile at the opportunity to elaborate on his favorite topic. After all, Aiden explains, conversations about the customer journey do not come up nearly as often as they should. Every company should be talking about customer journey mapping as a means of improving customer experience by providing deeper insight into consumer needs and wants. So, why aren’t they?
Does A Customer Journey Definition Even Truly Exist?
From entrepreneurs claiming the customer journey model does not apply to their brand to companies claiming they already know everything they could possibly ever need to know about their customers, Aiden has already heard every excuse in the book when it comes to avoiding customer journey analysis.
Some entrepreneurs may resist investing time and resources in their customer journey because the concept itself seems ambiguous and difficult to fully grasp. It’s true, the customer journey is a broad and multifaceted concept that can be difficult to capture within a single definition, and it varies for each industry, brand, and service. Without a precise and replicable formula to follow, some entrepreneurs may shy away from giving their customer journey the consideration it deserves.
In reality, this fear of failure does more damage than good. When it comes to developing your customer journey, the only wrong approach is a strategy of ignorance. Aiden suggests that, at a basic level, customer journey mapping is successful as long as two key components are at play:
- Your data allows you to gain a clear understanding of your current status
- Your data helps you identify areas where you can add greater value for consumers
In other words, be creative with your customer journey framework as long as it remains useful to you. You may find inspiration from the customer journey map examples other brands have shared online, but ultimately your framework should be unique, tailored specifically to fit your brand and customers.
Whatever framework you come up with, “The world doesn’t need to agree on it,” Aiden reminds Tom, “but the organization certainly does.”
Customer Journey Map Examples as Guides
You may not find a ready-wear customer journey template for your brand by searching through Google, but there is certainly plenty to learn from case studies of other brands. Like the natural speaker he is, Aiden tells the story of a hypothetical customer journey involving travel industry services.
Beginning with a close look at the aspects of brand awareness that influenced the customer to choose a particular flight-booking service over another, to the moment that customer commits to using that service by checking in for departure, a customer journey analysis considers the true drivers behind consumer behavior. Aiden advises the eager entrepreneur to avoid jumping directly into “Solution Mode”. Customer journey mapping may occur in a cyclical structure, he explains, and you may not get it right on your very first try.
Customer journey mapping is about asking the right questions. While marketing strategies may also consider customer behavior, data is often used to maximize a brand’s visibility. In contrast, Aiden points out, customer journey mapping shifts focus to evaluate the amount of value provided at various levels of interaction between customers and the services they purchase. For the data at each of the customer journey stages, ask yourself: how can we collaborate better? How can we create more opportunities? How can we build partnerships?
The Challenges of Customer Journey Mapping
While it may seem simple enough to outline a framework, create a focus group, and ask some questions, customer journey mapping presents marketers with a fresh set of challenges. With years of reading surveys behind him, Aiden has noticed that consumers tend to lie or provide incorrect data for customer journey analysts. Obtaining data that accurately reflects consumer behavior can prove difficult, but not impossible.
Skilled customer journey analysis could lead brands to discover ways of marketing services in anticipation of customer needs. Rather than waiting hopefully for consumers to find and engage with your brand, consider learning from consumer behavior to see how you can make your services more accessible to them.
Customer journey mapping is a great way to see your brand from a consumer’s perspective and find opportunities for improvement. Learn what makes your service attractive to customers and find ways to make it even more valuable. By following trends in customer behavior, your brand can easily gain an advantage over the competition.
- There’s no good excuse for neglecting your customer journey framework
- Use data and empathy to understand customer behavior, even if your data is imperfect
- Always seek ways to add value at every touchpoint
- Remove fear, act now
- Technology changes the customer journey, making it possible to do business at any time
- Customer-centric is the future and what it’s all about
- Bring your service to the consumer instead of requiring them to come to you