The Customer Journey

Written by: Ryan Flannagan
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Chapter 39: Moving On… The Customer Journey

Up to this point, we’ve been talking about the Buyer’s Journey: the stages of progress between a being a person who might want what you have to sell and being somebody who buys it from you. We’ve looked at the particular needs of the buyer at each step of that journey, the best practices for getting and holding her attention, and at tools to help you serve her more efficiently and effectively.

But we’re not used car salesmen or insurance agents out of a dime novel. Our relationship with the consumer doesn’t end when she signs on the dotted line. In this Internet age, that kind of behavior gets bad reviews up on sites like Yelp and Google Reviews faster than you can say “Out of Business.”

As the Buyer’s Journey ends, the same person begins the Customer Journey: the stages of progress between being a new customer of your business and being a happy, enthusiastic advocate for your brand. Let’s look at the basics of that journey, and how you can use it to increase how many of your customers become ruthless brand advocates and decrease how long it takes to get them here.

The Customer Journey Map

Remember earlier in this book when we showed you a graphical representation of the Buyer’s Journey? That part was easy because that journey is largely the same for everybody. The individual experiences change by person and product, but the flow is similar. It’s different for your customer journey because things change wildly from company to company even within the same industry. You’ll have to make yours on your own.

There are two kinds of customer journey maps: a tactical map and a performance/improvement map.

Tactical Maps

Tactical maps focus on “touchpoints” for the customer when they interact with your product. When they use the product, read the directions, access your website, speak to customer service, receive their bills, or deal with you and your product in even a small way. Each of these points is an opportunity to wow (or to disappoint) a customer.

To build your tactical map, make a list of each contact a customer will make each time she interacts with your product. If you run a SaaS firm, examples might include logging into the account, using the core products, making changes to account settings, and accessing live help chat. An industrial exterminator’s list would include initial visit, environment after treatment, and final billing. Your list should include every potential point of contact and interaction, and for many companies, it looks more like a flowchart than a grocery or to-do list.

Once you have you list, make a list of problems that often occur, or are likely to occur, during that interaction. Populate this with reviews you’ve read, trouble competitors have, problems your own team anticipates or warn you of, and every time a customer reports an issue. For each problem, list two things:

  • Specific pain points associated with the problem. A pain point in this context is the emotional state a customer might experience when encountering the issue. If the problem is system lag at peak times, frustration might be the pain point.
  • Changes or training that could eliminate or at least mitigate the problem.

When you have those pain points and changes, you’re prepared to start working to streamline and improve the journey of the next customer who walks along the path you’ve created. The better and sooner you are able to do that, the more customers you will retain, and the more you will change into enthusiastic referrers and recommenders of your company.

Performance and Improvement Map

While the tactical map focuses mainly on the customer experience, a performance and improvement map looks at the actions your team takes at each point of the Customer Journey. Start it by listing each of the points of contact from the tactical map. This will form the top row of a table, with the entire table forming your performance and improvement map.

The second row describes the internal process: what your team (or your automation) during that step so your customer gets what she is promised during that stage. For your customer care website, an item might be “View Account Summary.” An internal process there would be “Automation provides accurate and up-to-date account details.”

The third row lists a spectrum of possible levels of quality customer experience for those processes. It should include a likely best case, a likely unacceptable case, and two to three levels in between. If possible, these should derive from actual customer experiences. If not, do the best you can with opinions from knowledgeable members of your team.

The fourth row chooses the most common experience of customers in that stage from among the examples in the row above. This allows you to rate the real-time performance of any aspect of the Customer Journey since only things that get measured can be improved.

The final row lists specific points of improvement for that experience, identified from customer interactions and brainstorming among stakeholders for that part of your business. You will use these to improve the status in row four as you continue to hone your company processes to perfection.

Ryan Flannagan

Ryan Flannagan

Ryan Flannagan is the Founder & CEO of Nuanced Media, an international eCommerce marketing agency specializing in Amazon. Nuanced has sold $100s of Millions online and Ryan has built a client base representing a total revenue of over 1.5 billion dollars. Ryan is a published author and has been quoted by a number of media sources such as BuzzFeed, CNBC, and Modern Retail.

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