Andrew Stockwell, Client Director at RedEye, suggests that drawing your customer’s journeys is an essential practice for understanding customer experience
It’s essential to understand what your customer’s experience is. Offline, in-store or on the phone, you can watch them, listen to them or ask them. Online we can do much more through web analytics and the plethora of tools available. Multichannel campaigns and personalisation have made it easier to automate a personal experience. However, thinking about the growing multitude of technologies, how easy is it really to map out what journey our customers take from first thought to purchase? Most software vendors will tell you this is a simple one-click report where stacks and paths will tell you what all your customers are doing. In reality, this is rubbish! To test this, grab a pad of paper and ask the closest ten people to you how they went about buying their last holiday. Map it out—I’d love to hear from anyone who got even two that looked the same.
When considering how to get real value from drawing a customer journey, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning! When you ask your digital team what drove a customer to your website on that golden first visit they will often say it was a search term, but I always challenge this and say that first there must be a need or a want. Before you can start to consider a customer journey and how you position your communications, you need to understand what your customer’s intention is. Why will they want the product or service? Is it for them or for somebody else? Are they trying it out or do they buy one every week? Understanding these simple intentions can massively improve how you communicate to a customer along the journey from that very first interaction.
Once they arrive at your site, what do they first do? I’ll give you a few examples: some will go straight to products; some will browse the categories; and some will read your returns policy. How do these three simple behaviours allow you to tailor your content and messaging? You can add their viewed products to return visits or send a basket abandonment email. You could email content browsers with a breakdown of your categories or go into more detail about their preferred category in their weekly newsletters. For those who focus on the returns policy, you can make this more prominent at the basket or in your communications, along with key delivery information. Now, even with these three very simple examples, look at how many variables need to be considered.
Nowadays a buying cycle can take many days and cross many channels again and again. People will search and browse online, then visit a store to see the product. Following this, they may consider substitutes and refine their search by reading more details on their selected options. Then they may even place their order over the phone. How do our journey diagrams look once we factor in these levels of complexity? How should these behaviours influence what we say and how we structure content?
There is no perfect way to draw a customer journey but it’s certainly not as simple as clicking a report or opening a dashboard! If this is all you’re doing, you’re losing the true essence of the issue. In my experience, drawing a customer journey is a vital tool in understanding customer experiences. Crucially, it must inform how you plan and deliver meaningful engagements with your customers, hopefully leading them to buy from you again and again.
This article also appears on RedEye’s blog.