What is Customer Journey and why others besides sales and marketing people should be interested about it?
Before starting to formulate customer journey, it is important to define customer personas, to whom these journeys will be created. A while ago, I wrote about what Customer Personas are and why those are useful. Below you can find short definition and through the link complete blog in Finnish.
”Customer Persona (Customer-Avatar) is a fictional character, which presents ideal customer of a certain company. Unlike definition of a target segment, which classifies large group of people, customer persona defines one person’s character, values, personal information, challenges and goals. It even goes so far, that this person is given a name and a profile picture, by which an attempt to try to make the person alive is done.”
Challenge during this digital era is, that many do not know when and where the first contact happens. If you do not know where this happens, it is very difficult to provide value to customer on that specific touch point. It can even happen so that customer has already made the purchasing decision even before contact with the company has happened. During this modern age, customers want to search for information about the product or service beforehand and understand what they are buying. For that reason it is important, that companies are acting as trusted advisors who are helping customers to move forward on their journey. Helping works a lot better than pushing also in this case.
Customer journey is a journey of all touch points between a company and a customer towards what the customer wants to achieve, and what they are doing to achieve that. It begins from awareness when customer discovers a need, continues by engaging with company and leads to purchasing. These touch point types vary a lot, and are not just contacts with sales, marketing and customer service at the customer interface, there are also many touch points with the systems behind the curtain. Journey does not end at the purchase, instead customer needs to be taken care of also after the transaction. Company has created value propositions before the purchase, but after the purchase company needs to fulfill these promises. Service delivery should be easy and effortless for the customer. Also it is important to understand that for example HR-, logistics- and finance systems affect to how smooth the customer experience is as a whole.
One tool called Service Blueprint is helpful in defining customer journey. It can also be used to test new service process prototype. We learned how to use this tool with Katja Tschimmel during the class Design Thinking. With the help of this tool, physical customer journey can be described and below every touch point, customer action is listed. By using this tool, contacts between customer and the company can be reviewed, both direct and contacts happening at the background. Also it is important to list out the required supporting processes and resources like IT. Below you can find a picture about what our group came up with.
What are important aspects of effective customer journey mapping process?
It is very important, that it includes customer-centric point of view, in which a solution is formed through customer requirements with the objective to solve their needs, instead of creating a new product/service without asking customers if they need it. It is also very important to have support from management and focus on customer insight. Support is required from many different levels of organization, because customer interacts with many different parts of the company. Therefore units, which are working behind the curtain must support the process. And if cooperation and data collection are not taken into account in the early phases of the process, there is a big risk that the process ends up into nice visual exercises which nobody utilizes in practice.
Every time new product/service is developed, developers should step into customer’s shoes. By using the tools which design thinking provides, discussion can be limited into what needs to happen so that the idea is applicable. You can always make fancy plans, which seem to work on paper, but when a real customers tests the prototype, some very surprising issues can be discovered. Because of this reason, feedback should be requested as early as possible during the process. There is a risk, that when only looking at your own point of view, you might forget some important aspects, which are important to customers, and which the planned product does not fulfill. At this phase it is a lot easier to make modification, it could be late and very expensive to make those changes when the products is finished. So, remember to request feedback as early as possible and Fail Fast!
Some tools, which are good for testing new product or service are Desktop Walkthrough or Role Play. During our classes we were allowed to play with Legos J This relates to Desktop Walkthrough –tool, which is used to outline proposed solution in 3D, which makes it easier to define. After we made our first version, we presented that to other group to receive feedback. With the help of this feedback, we made some modifications and combined two different options into one solution. Some pictures below.
Why it is important to understand these concepts?
The customer rarely follows the buying process which the company has independently defined. From the perspective of marketing and sales, it is important so that companies can create value adding content to every touch point of the journey and can help customers move forward. Instead that company trying to raise common interest and reach the entire crowd with one same content. Many times this results into creating content, which does not raise any emotions in anyone.
After the customer journeys have been formulated, marketing automation can be utilized in order to deliver content, which provides additional value to customers in every touch point and when they are moving forward on their journey. This is one reason why the background systems need to function. It does not give good image, if value creating content has been created, but interested customer cannot open it. For this reason, cooperation inside the company is very important, so that IT-unit understands the process. Then they can make sure that the systems work as required and by doing that, making the customer journey as easy and effortless as possible.
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