Does Your Customer Journey Have a Fork in the Road?

Jan 18, 2018

The 1,000-mile journey to buy a laptop starts with a single step...or something like that.

To understand where that first step can lead from a business perspective, you have one of two choices: 1) to look through the eyes of your customer at each step, or 2) to take an outside-in approach and examine the customer’s wants, needs and goals for interacting with your business.

Whether your customer is making an informed product purchase, attending an event, upgrading telecommunications services, or simply resolving an issue in their home, it is essential to clearly understand every stage along the customer journey because it allows you to create smarter, more informed communications, which ultimately leads to a better experience with your customers.

One of the first steps we take in our strategy process at Curiosity is to map the customer journey. A customer journey map allows us to identify the stages a customer takes to efficiently and successfully complete their task or goal. To plot our map, we first evaluate customer feedback through interviews and surveys. We also build on first- and third-party data, if available. Information from this phase allows us to further develop customer understanding and then plan project work for our clients. This aids us in answering questions such as:

  • What are the major pain points with customers?
  • When and where should we push ads?
  • What is the right message?
  • Which elements (print, video, radio, online, social, in-store, experiential, etc.) can we create to drive awareness and purchase in-store?
  • How can we impact purchase online?

To provide context, here is a simplified example:

Annie, a young professional, is looking to purchase a new laptop. She has owned the device she currently uses since college. It is slow, unpredictable, and she is concerned she will lose projects, or that the device will stop working altogether. She wants a new laptop and knows she needs one soon.

We can break her product purchase steps down into the following stages:

1. Situation—Annie needs a new laptop. She is worried hers will soon die.

2. Inform/Learn—She searches online, in-store and in conversations with friends or family.

3. Seek/Intent—Annie finds the laptop she desires and seeks out the best way to purchase at the right price, either online or in-store.

4. Purchase—Her goal is that the laptop will end up in a virtual or physical shopping cart and shortly in her hands to use.

5. Post-purchase—What is the unboxing experience like? Is there a warranty or rebate? What is her setup experience? Are there any damages to the device?

Simplified for the sake of example, the objective of this exercise is to break the purchase process down into units, which allows businesses to identify and evaluate existing pain points or opportunities to improve the customer experience. We look at (left side) the customer need and emotional states. Are they happy, angry or neutral towards the experience? What are they saying about it? We compare that to the actions they might take and the channels they might use during that stage. With that basic information, we can make strategic recommendations to improve some or all stages of the customer journey.

A Simple Customer Journey Map Example:

Customer Journey

A great customer experience depends on consistency and relevancy at every interaction a customer has with a business. One of the core values of our agency is to “always take the smarter fork.” We are on a mission to create consistently smarter work. By using the customer journey mapping process with our clients, we strive to improve their business and the experience their customers have with it.

Contact us today to learn more.