The Customer Journey: The Path Every Company Has to Walk

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Meeting the needs of a customer can be difficult. Meeting their needs over and over? That’s quite the challenge. So often, when a marketer believes they have it all figured out, something changes, whether it be technology, trends or even the potential customer’s preference. But a seasoned professional—or at least one who listens and picks up on subtle (or sometimes very loud) cues—can not only find the best way to meet the customer’s needs, but also create an end-to-end customer journey that closes the deal each and every time.

The key to making that happen is in the customer journey itself. A marketing or sales professional can keep the wants and needs of the customer at the forefront of their thinking each and every day—and even offer the best product or service to fulfill them—but that doesn’t guarantee the sale. Consider this as the case in point:

An average of 70 percent of online shoppers abandoned their carts in 2022.

You are probably asking yourself: How can that be? Why is the customer finding the answer to their need or desire but not finalizing the purchase?

It all comes back to the customer journey. To you, as a marketing or sales expert, the process may be all about getting a prospect to the destination. But to the customer, it’s more about the journey. In fact, 80 percent of customers report that their experience (i.e., journey) with the company itself is just as important as the actual product or service they are purchasing.

What is the Customer Journey Anyway?

The customer journey is the process—the path, so to speak—that guides a prospect from general awareness of your service or product (or potentially even unawareness) to making the purchase. Beyond that, a successful journey also means the customer becomes an advocate for your product or service, deeming you as their sole provider.

The customer journey includes every interaction and experience the (potential) customer has with your company, and what some companies fail to realize is that the journey isn’t a one-and-done deal. Customers want a journey that includes a sequence of experiences that guides them down the purchasing road. Taking it a step further—and this is where many companies tend to go wrong—is that the journey isn’t the same for every prospect. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to guide prospects from being unaware (or newly aware) of the relevance of your product or service to purchase (much less advocate). (Click here for more on why driving awareness simply isn’t enough.) 

Many marketers have missed the mark on this reality in recent years. A common misconception has been that prospects want easy, predictable and rather routine journeys. While some prospects may fall into this category (after all, every customer has a different set of expectations, right?), not all will. In fact, most won’t. Years of research has been done on this topic of the customer experience, and it has revealed there are four main archetypes of the customer journey. For this post, we will use the customer journey matrix set forth by the Harvard Business Review:

  •     Routine. This is a customer looking for an experience that is easy and predictable. Think ordering their favorite meal at Chick-fil-A or making a purchase from Amazon.
  •     Joyride. This is a customer seeking an experience that is effortless but unpredictable. This segment still wants familiarity but with unexpected options or changes (such as a restaurant that changes its menu often or a cinema constantly updating its offerings).
  •     Trek. This is a customer looking for an experience that is effortful yet predictable. They want to put the effort into finding the right product or service to help them achieve their specific goal, such as purchasing the right fitness product for their existing workout routine.
  •     Odyssey. This is a customer looking for an experience that is effortful and unpredictable. This customer specifically seeks excitement and adventure, and that often means their journey doesn’t have a specific end point.

So How Do You Design the Ideal Customer Journey?

It starts with understanding your company’s customer archetype.

So often, a marketing department gets so hyper-focused on the execution of the marketing plan and day-to-day operations that they fail to focus on who the actual customer is. 

Start by taking a step back and identifying the ideal prospect. Are your company’s existing activities and tactics targeting that archetype? Are there gaps or holes within the customer experience you’re offering leading prospects to fall off or get stuck within the sales funnel? Can you identify the stage of the sales process your prospect is into? If not, then how can the marketing strategy provide the information and experience they require at the exact time they need it?

The Answer is Centricity

Centricity is the application of behavioral science to the sales pipeline. Pulled from the trans-theoretical theorem of behavior change, it’s what we apply to the ever-complex sales process to help clients align their sales and marketing teams around the needs of their buyer and, therefore, convert prospects through each step of of the buyer’s journey. We specialize in helping companies implement this thinking into their sales, marketing, technology and creative processes, particularly in the mid- to late-stage funnel. If you’d like to know more about how we do it, we suggest you revisit this previous post

Understanding who your prospect is and where they fall in the sales journey matters. Doing so can not only help your company generate more leads and save money by spending its marketing dollars more efficiently, but also improve customer retention rates and even improve customer service in general.

If this framework is new for your company—or even if your company is just not seeing any success with its current strategy—we can help. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you so that you can keep your focus and energy on the critical areas of your business that only you can manage. 

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