Learn how to define your customer journey and make it a worthwhile one.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu

Sounds long. And maybe hard.

And that may be what you’re thinking whenever someone mentions customer journey mapping. We hear it mostly when we’re talking about customer relations management (CRM) and digital communications with our customers. Some CRM systems are bears to work with and there is so much data that can be harnessed, if you have the time and energy.

But I’d rather talk about the customer journey outside a CRM system. Let’s consider that every business experience, whether B2B or B2C, has a journey.

Mapping this journey puts the customer front and center and forces us to acknowledge where we’re doing a great job and where we might need to change things. Seeing our business, and interactions with it, purely from the customer side can be a wonderful thing.

We all say that we put the customer first. Mapping their journey is a way to really be sure that we are doing that. The purchase process really is a journey, from developing interest, to information gathering, to seeking options, to making the purchase (and hopefully, repurchase) decision.

The first step in understanding the journey is to understand who the customer is. Define your customer. If this leads you to define multiple “customer personas,” focus first on the largest segment.

Next, map the steps of that customer’s journey. This may involve many different touch points – digital, in-store , packaging, customer service, sales people and more. Include every point where your customer comes into contact with your business.

This is where you will find your customers’ needs at different stages in the buying funnel. You’ll see if the journey makes sense and is in a logical sequence of events. You’ll discover gaps and pain points that you can address. You’ll know what matters most and be sure you’re providing it.

Analytics alone won’t help you get to this place. You need stories, too. So, talk to your front-line people, sales people, customer service reps and the customer.  Ask questions, shadow the employees, do a survey of your customers.  Dig deep for answers, so your journey map will be accurate and meaningful.

The representation of the journey can be anything you want it to be – a chart, a diagram, a map. It could be an infographic with a timeline or a storyboard. Choose the method that best represents a customer’s journey. Be sure it highlights needs, places where questions might arise, and pain points.

Once you’ve done this work, you’ll begin to see where you can improve the journey. Make it less cumbersome, easier, more fun. Consumers today expect companies to know and remember who they are, to anticipate what they need, to make things easy and even to make them fun. You now have the tools to do all these things. So, go forth and make the journey mean something. I’ll see you on the path to happy customers.

Need help defining your customer personas and their journey, contact Vela. We’re here to help.