Customer journey: definition and explanations
The term customer journey, which originates from marketing, means "customer journey" and describes the various contact points or touchpoints between a person and a product or brand, from the first perception to the moment of the purchase decision. In marketing language, the term touchpoint is usually used instead of the terms touch or contact points. Such touchpoints can be, for example, advertising posters, radio spots, queuing at the supermarket checkout, testimonials in social media or even a friend's opinions about a product at the regulars' table. But also email contact, surfing the website of the supplier or retailer or visiting a shop are customer touchpoints within the framework of the customer journey model.
The goal of the customer journey strategy is to positively influence the touch points and contact
Of course, the term Customer Journey does not only want to describe the touch and contact points of a customer. A concrete benefit is to be derived from this, namely the detailed recording, i.e. tracking, of a customer's touchpoints in order to trace the path to the purchase decision and thus ultimately to be able to influence it. The respective touchpoints are also analysed by means of surveys in order to determine the effectiveness of measures aimed at making touchpoints positive. Shaping positively here means that each individual touchpoint should create positive customer experiences or customer experiences. Because only if customers have only positive experiences with your company within the customer journey is there a high probability that a purchase or contract will be concluded or a service will be commissioned.
Having great products, an informative website or 24/7 support is great. But if your customers feel that you are not valued in direct dialogue, that support never really offers solutions, that they wait too long, then customers will quickly switch to the competition. The Customer Journey helps you understand your business from the customer's point of view by "tracking", i.e. measuring, every point of interaction between the customer and the business, product or service.
More than just good products
Shoppers have little inclination to buy products on impulse unless it is a convenience purchase, preferring to learn more about the products they are interested in and then talk to colleagues, acquaintances and friends about competitor analysis and other such steps before proceeding to purchase. So it's safe to say that it takes more than just good products or good service for customers to stay loyal to a brand or company or to buy the product in the first place. Shaping the customer journey in a positive way plays a big role.
The sum of all experiences on the “customer's journey”
The customer journey is basically nothing more than the collection of all the experiences customers have at different touchpoints with a particular company or brand. The assessment should take into account the entire customer experience journey and not just specific sections of individual interactions. In crowded markets, every little detail can actually be crucial.
Customer journey mapping
In order to trace all these touchpoints between the customer and the company, its products and brands, a so-called customer journey map is created. The customer journey mapping, i.e. the visualisation of all customer interactions, not only contains the individual touchpoints themselves - divided into the different phases of a purchase decision - but also possible actions and emotions of the customer that can be positively influenced by the company.
The customer's journey is generally divided into different phases within the customer journey mapping as part of an AIDA-like explanatory model:
- Awareness / The product becomes conscious
A sports colleague wears new running shoes while training
- Favorability / Interest is growing
The interested party asks the colleague for details, features, price. The shoe is advertised on advertising posters. These also catch the eye of the interested party
- Consideration / The purchase is being considered
Image, performance features, price structure coincide with the ideas of the customer. The soles of the old shoes have expired anyway. The customer searches for opinions and comments in forums and review portals
- Intent to Purchase / The purchase decision is solidified
The customer informs himself on the website of the shoe manufacturer. The customer then goes to the store and tries on the shoe
- Conversion / purchase is made
The customer buys the shoe. Either in-store or online
There are also explanatory models that do not consider the model of the customer journey to be completed after the purchase, but extend the model described above to include the after-sales service phase. Basically, or in the best case, the customer journey is a never-ending cycle.
What does a customer journey map look like?
At this point it should be noted that there is not ONE Customer Journey Map. On the one hand, every company has its own templates, approaches and ideas on how to map the customer journey. On the other hand, the buying processes are different depending on the industry or medium. A customer journey map of an online retailer has a completely different content than that of a car dealership, for example. So we can only sketch an example for you here to give you an idea of what a Customer Journey Map looks like.
Example of a customer journey map
Suppose a company that sells its products both online and in shops are conducting a sales campaign. A new, innovative product is to be promoted via a radio spot and an advertisement in the local newspaper. A corresponding customer journey map could look like this:
This customer journey map could also be divided into an online and offline map. Crucially, this map should include all touchpoints, the needs and expectations of customers, the actions taken by the company and how and where along the customer journey the customer experience will be "tracked", i.e. measured and evaluated.
You can find another example below. At first glance, the Customer Journey Map may look simple. Once you start creating it, you will realise that it is quite complex and different for each customer segment. If you search the internet, you will find many different variations. Below we will also show you how to create and visualise the Customer Journey Map digitally.
Customer journey template
Customer Journey Tracking: Carry out touchpoint analyses along the customer journey
The customer journey map represents the customer's feelings, goals, questions and pain points at each touchpoint. As many touchpoints as possible should be identified and made as positive as possible depending on the phase of the purchase decision. In order to know whether your measures to positively influence the touchpoints are actually working, the customer experience must be tracked. This means that you need to survey your customers and prospects at the relevant touchpoints, which is called customer journey tracking. Customer journey tracking is conducted using touchpoint analysis. We have already explained the topic of touchpoint analysis in more detail in a separate blog article. Customer Journey Tracking does not require lengthy customer surveys at the respective touchpoints to gain valuable insights into the customer experience. Instead, you use short and concise questions to determine which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are important.
a) Determine the effort that your customers need to achieve a desired goal (e.g. finding information on the website of the offering company, going through an order process, reaching a complaint hotline, solving a support case). This KPI is called the Customer Effort Score
b) determine general customer satisfaction with the help of the Customer Satisfaction Score
c) Determine the loyalty and willingness of your customers to recommend your customers with the Net Promoter Score
Which KPIs are determined at which touchpoints?
Here, too, the approaches of the companies are different. For example, some companies use the Customer Effort Score especially in the Awareness and Consideration phase to find out whether the effort for the customer runs smoothly, especially at the beginning of the customer journey, to find information quickly and to reach contact persons quickly and easily. After the order is placed, the Net Promoter Score is queried and some time later the Customer Satisfaction Score.
Other companies use only one of these scores at touchpoints along the entire customer journey. The Customer Satisfaction Score is very popular here, as it determines the "overall satisfaction" with the question: "Looking back at all your experiences with our company: How satisfied are you with us?". The reason why companies opt for only one variant of KPI determination is that the course of the "Customer's Journey" can be tracked consistently with the same survey method. Still other companies use the Net Promoter Score to measure the touchpoints consistently.
Time course of the Customer Effort Score and the Net Promoter Score
Weaknesses and strengths of the customer journey model
The principle of the customer journey also has weaknesses: It is hardly possible to actually capture, i.e. track, all touchpoints and contacts within the customer journey mapping. Sales staff in a stationery shop will not be able to ask each of their customers which contact point preceded the respective product before this purchase decision was made, e.g. an advertising poster or a recommendation from a work colleague. A customer survey is also not possible at every location. Therefore, in practice, the term customer journey is essentially limited to the field of online marketing, where it originated, because here the contact points can usually be tracked and evaluated quite easily with tracking tools. But the term customer journey also has its justification as a model for offline retail thanks to new, modern survey technologies. Although touchpoints and contacts cannot always be traced immediately, there are methods in market research that can trace the "customer journey" - for example through a survey - and thus influence it.
Customer experience management and touchpoint analyses
The topic of Customer Experience Management has long been an integral part of customer-oriented companies. And the topic is becoming more and more extensive and complex. And it is moving more and more into focus. In addition to creating positive and minimising negative customer experiences, the focus is increasingly on the measurability of the measures performed within the context of Customer Experience Management.
Finally, companies also want to know whether these measures, which are desirably a profitable cost factor, are actually effective or even perceived by their customers. For measuring such measures at the interfaces between companies and customers, survey technologies are now available that enable companies to evaluate almost every touchpoint between companies and customers. These so-called touchpoint analyses have become indispensable in the practice of Customer Experience Management. But how do companies identify and visualise such touchpoints, how do they design them and how exactly are they measured? If you would like, we would be happy to explain this to you in a 1:1 live online presentation!
Customer journey dashboard
In this article we have shown you the importance of understanding, measuring and ultimately optimising your customers' experiences at every touchpoint to differentiate yourself from the competition by creating consistently positive customer experiences at touchpoints. Creating a customer journey map is no trivial matter. QuestionPro CX, the web-based Customer Experience Management software with multiple customer journey tracking tools, offers a unique solution with an integrated customer journey dashboard to help you create your map and track it. The special feature of the Customer Journey Mapping module is that you can see evaluations from touchpoint analyses for each touchpoint at a glance! So you know immediately at which touchpoint there is a need for action.
With our comprehensive tool set for customer journey mapping and tracking, we have found a way to automate touchpoint analyses and thus make them cost-efficient. This allows you to understand customer behaviour and pain points at touchpoints and gain a comprehensive understanding of all customer interactions. The "mapping of the customer journey", i.e. the customer journey mapping, as well as the measurement and evaluation of all customer touchpoints is much easier, more effective and faster with a powerful Customer Experience Management software such as that of QuestionPro. QuestionPro Customer Experience Software enables you to gain valuable insights through comprehensive touchpoint analyses. Such powerful software helps companies to sustainably increase customer satisfaction and customer experience.
This article is only a rough explanation of the term Customer Journey. If you have further questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will show you how to measure the customer journey with QuestionPro Trace and how to visualise the customer journey model with the help of the software. We look forward to the dialogue!
1:1 live online presentation:
Customer journey mapping & tracking with QuestionPro's innovative CX software
We would be happy to show you in a live demo how you can conduct customer journey surveys with QuestionPro's Customer Experience Management software using customer journey mapping.
Arrange an appointment now!