A customer journey is a story about a business’ customers. It tells the business how its customers arrive at its website or store, how they react upon seeing the website, and what they need to do to retain those customers. Today’s customer journey models are a result of continuous change and evolution.
In the ancient days, traders and manufacturers did not understand or care about the customer experience. There were very few manufacturers of a product type, and consumers had little choice. The former had captive markets, and even if the customer felt aggrieved with the quality of his product, he could not change his suppliers. There was little or no competition.
This scenario changed with the advent of capitalism. This brought about many manufacturers of the same product, and the customers now had choices. This led to the creation of customer-centric marketing strategies. Manufacturers were now looking at not just attracting new customers, but also retaining existing ones. One important milestone in the history of customer evolution was the emergence of branding.
Converting consumers into customers
When companies started branding their products and services, consumers began looking at those products with greater interest. Branding was one major way of differentiating one product from another. Business owners began accepting the fact that branding helped customers make an informed decision on what to purchase. Customers were also no longer buying products simply on the basis of flashy promises.
After doing a lot of research, big corporations and researchers concluded that ‘consumers’ and ‘customers’ were two different terms.
• A consumer buys products for consumption and not resale
• Customers are people who buy products and augment a company’s revenue
While branding and advertising helped businesses to attract some buyers, a certain percentage of these never returned to buy the same product again. The challenge, therefore, became how to convert consumers into everlasting customers.
Modern theories on the customer journey study the acquisition of customers and their conversion into lifetime sources of revenue. These theories also emphasize the conversion of a random consumer into a regular customer. It is expensive for a new business to get a new customer, but it doesn’t cost much to retain an existing buyer. The challenge is to convert a buyer into a profitable revenue source.
Customer success journey maps
Over the years, many successful companies have designed customer success journey maps to track the interest levels of their potential customers. These maps can enhance the customer experience and improve the firm’s sales and profits. A well thought out customer map can generate repeat sales also. There are other benefits to tracking customer interest levels.
Firms can identify their ideal customers effectively with these maps. Sales conversion rates can be improved significantly, and companies can reduce their customer churn rates. A well devised customer journey plan can increase the customer lifetime value by providing keen buyer insights. This plan can also promote a customer-centered company culture. Finally, with a carefully crafted map, firms can also achieve market leadership.
In a customer-centric plan, firms must first decide what to map. Some templates are: a) Current state maps, b) Day in the life maps, etc. The next step is to understand the firm’s customers and how they were acquired. In the next stage, businesses should understand the various customer touch points. After these touch points have been identified, firms need to lay out the customer journey milestones.