The need to understand the customer journey is crucial for any business. Unfortunately, in recent years, this task has become a lot harder. The average customer now has multiple devices. What’s more, they like to switch between them. This means that businesses now need to understand customer journeys across all these touchpoints. But where should you start? We’ll explore that and more below.
What is a customer journey in marketing?
The customer journey in marketing is all the steps a customer takes from the moment they first hear about your brand until after purchasing a product. This process is split into five steps, including:
- Awareness: The moment a customer is first introduced to your brand or product. This could be from an advertisement, reading a review, or spotting your product’s custom packaging in a store.
- Search: After a prospect gets introduced to your brand, they may do some research. This could involve visiting your website or following you on social media.
- Consideration: The prospect will weigh up your offering against those of your competitors. They might search for online reviews or see if they can find a better deal elsewhere.
- Purchase: The customer now has enough information to buy your product. Alternatively, they might decide to purchase from a competitor.
- Retention: Now that a customer has bought a product, it’s your task to persuade them to stick around. How can you ensure they post reviews and buy from you again?
Note that not all customers follow every step. They might also complete their journey in a different order. However, building your strategy around these steps is key to understanding the customer journey.
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But as mentioned, the customer journey in marketing is changing. Buyers are now looking for brands that can provide omnichannel experiences.
What is an omnichannel experience?
Regardless of whether a customer is using their tablet, smartphone, or laptop, they expect to be able to interact with you. Not only that, but customers want their experiences to continue from one device to the next.
But to provide these continuous experiences, you first need to understand the customer journey inside-out.
Understanding the omnichannel journey
As discussed, the omnichannel journey is different from the traditional customer journey. Here are some factors to consider when mapping out the customer journey for your brand.
Dig deep into your user base
To understand the omnichannel journey, you must dig deeper than standard audience research. You need to know not only what devices customers use to access your services but also their operating system and browser.
You may find that your services are less accessible to customers on certain devices or who are using a specific OS. The best way to understand this is by taking a hands-on approach. For example, a few Mac users might download Mac remote desktop solutions from your website. You can monitor them as they navigate the site and identify areas of friction that could be platform-specific.
Aside from functional needs, you should think about customer interests. By knowing the kinds of content users enjoy, you can optimise omnichannel experiences.
You need large amounts of data and the right analytics tool to access this information to deliver actionable insights. For example, Google Analytics can provide deep insights into customers’ behaviour on your website. This includes information about the devices users use and the content they consume online. Thus, SEO and Google Analytics come hand in hand in providing better analytical results.
You can gain a bird’s-eye-view over user journeys with the right analytics tool. How are users moving from one device to another? These are all crucial factors for understanding the omnichannel customer journey.
Speak to the customer and discover their expectations
Each user will have a set of expectations for their journey. Building customer journeys around expectations is key to cultivating happy customers. In the context of the omnichannel experience, how do customers want to interact with your brand across different touchpoints? What pain points likely prevent them from having the best possible user experience?
The only way to answer these questions is by speaking to the customer directly. Feedback could take the form of an online survey. Or, if you’d like a more personal touch, speak to customers directly via focus phone call. If you opt for the latter, make sure customers have favourable experiences so that they encourage others to share feedback. Following call center quality assurance best practices ensures professionally conducted calls.
Of course, when you speak to customers to gain high-quality data, you need to ask the right questions. Below are some examples of useful questions.
- Is our app/website easy to navigate? What problems do you run into when using our services?
- When you move from one platform to another, can you continue where you left off?
- How would you score your overall experience when interacting with our brand?
Map out the customer journey
Once you’ve gathered enough data to give you a strong picture of the customer journey, you must map it out. A physical reference point of your user journey provides you and your team better visualisation. It’s a useful opportunity to show all the different touchpoints in the omnichannel experience.
Moreover, mapping out your journey can be an opportunity to identify areas of friction. What’s preventing you from having a higher conversion rate? How can you facilitate smoother customer journeys?
Your map can be complex, listing every interaction at each customer journey phase. Or, you can opt for a simple approach, providing a basic overview. Choose an option that will give your team the best understanding of customer needs.
A simple whiteboard can be a reference point if your team works together in an office. However, if your employees work remotely, cloud-based UX tools ensure that your map is accessible to all.
Delivering omnichannel customer journeys
By now, you would have an understanding of the omnichannel journey. But how can you meet customer expectations by delivering the best omnichannel experiences? Let’s look at some practices to set you on the right path.
Use technology and start a simple
Building an omnichannel customer journey isn’t easy. Today, customers are used to seamless experiences with brands across many platforms. They might start a purchase on your website, finish on your app, and pick up the product in-store.
Customers also want support to be seamless. If they started a query on your website, then phone support should pick up where they left off. They expect a call routing service that connects them to the right agent immediately.
But this kind of scope isn’t achieved overnight. Biting off more than you can chew will lead to inconsistent and unsatisfactory experiences. Instead, start small and scale up. Social media is a sensible place to start.
For example, customers who message you on X (formally Twitter) should get responses as quickly as those on Facebook. Ensure service agents can access data from customer queries on other channels. You may need to invest in omnichannel software such as Hubspot or Tidio.
Aim for consistency in branding and customer service
Omnichannel customer journeys should be smooth and interconnected. Customers shouldn’t notice much difference when moving from one platform to another.
This means that branding, such as logos, colours, and fonts, should always be consistent. This also applies to the overall tone of your copy. If you use formal language on your website, you shouldn’t use slang on social media.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should copy and paste content. Duplicate content can harm your position on the search engine results page. Try to deliver the same message but using a slightly different language.
Consistency should also apply to your customer service. Whether a customer contacts support via phone, social media, or email, they should receive the same standard of service.
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Build a custom app
The modern customer likes to shop on the move using their mobile device. A successful customer journey accommodates these users so they can easily make purchases. Unfortunately, websites don’t always run smoothly on mobile.
That’s why many businesses opt to create app versions of their services. An app is designed for mobile users, allowing for a smooth transition between desktop and mobile. Apps should replicate many of the core functionalities of your website. For instance, if your website uses a flipbook to showcase products, your app should offer similar functionality.
Of course, designing an app can be expensive and time-consuming. Only go down this route if you have the resources to do so.
Another aspect of improving the omnichannel customer journey is reducing cart abandonment. This could include optimizing the checkout process, sending reminder emails to customers with abandoned carts, and offering incentives to complete the purchase.
The modern customer journey is omnichannel
Understanding the customer journey is essential. Whilst you might feel you have your customers figured out, it’s worth double-checking. The modern customer journey is multilayered. Your current approach might not be accommodating certain users. There’s no point in building the best website for desktop users if you exclude mobile shoppers.
Today, we’ve shown how you can understand the modern customer journey and provide better experiences. It all starts with a simple question. When mapping your customer journey, ask yourself: is it omnichannel?