A customer journey is their interaction with a brand over time. Unlike a buyer lifecycle, it understands the interaction between the customer and the brand from the perspective of the customer rather than the perspective of the business. Analysing the buyer lifecycle helps you target actions to progress a customer through your sales funnel, but analysing the customer journey is about improving their experience.
While each journey is unique to the individual customer, we can divide a journey into stages that are typically common across all customers. These are: awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy.
Awareness starts when a potential customer has their first interaction with your brand. It can be triggered by the customer’s actions, such as searching for a product online and finding your business in the search results, or generated by your efforts, such as through various types of marketing.
At the consideration stage, a potential customer is assessing the value and suitability of your product offering. Their journey with your brand will likely involve them visiting your website or social media pages, and reading product pages. However, it is also likely they will research outside of your customer journey to consider competitors, and independent reviews of products.
In the decision stage, the customer has chosen to make a purchase. In an ideal world they would simply add a product to their basket and complete the purchase. However, many customers are lost at this stage. To minimise checkout abandonment rate, you want to remove as many barriers to purchase as possible, and re-emphasise your value proposition. Other strategies to boost conversion include offering free delivery, or highlighting that the purchase is a limited offer. For more, you can read our blog posts on best checkout practices or more generally on improving your conversion rate.
The customer journey does not stop with a purchase, or necessarily follow the above progression all the time. You want to encourage repeat business, so that means regularly increasing knowledge of your brand and products, even if that only sometimes progresses to a purchase. Similarly, just because a customer did not make a purchase when they first become aware of your brand, does not mean that they may not prove to be a valuable customer in the future.
Retention is the fourth stage of the customer journey. It starts with the delivery and use of the purchase. If the product is delivered late or in poor packaging, it will reflect negatively on your brand and limit customer retention. If customer service is poor or non-existent, it will harm you. And above all, if your product does not at the very least meet the customer’s expectations for it, you can forget about retention.
The final stage is advocacy. A retained customer will make repeat purchases forming loyalty to your brand, so long as their experience of both your products and business continues to meet their expectations. Over time, this repeat custom will lead to advocacy, as your customer tells others about your brand and products, through word of mouth, writing reviews, or sharing on social media.
To help your customers progress from those early stages of awareness all the way through to becoming advocates, it is helpful to create a customer journey map. This is a visual representation of all the experiences a customer can have with your brand along this journey. And remember, it is from the customer’s perspective. This will help you improve their experience.
If you would like help with creating a customer journey map, or for any of your eCommerce needs, just click below to set up an obligation-free appointment with a specialist from The Playhouse Group.
With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.