Customer Journey: definition and explanations
The term customer journey describes the different touch or contact points of a person with a product or a brand from the initial 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 the social media or even opinions of an acquaintance about a product at a regulars’ table. But also email contact, surfing on the supplier’s or retailer’s website or visiting a store are customer touchpoints within the customer journey model.
The goal of the customer journey strategy: positively influencing the touch and contact points
Of course, the term Customer Journey is not only intended to describe the touch and contact points of a customer. A concrete benefit is to be derived from it, namely the detailed recording, i.e. tracking, of a customer’s contact points in order to trace the path to the purchase decision and thus ultimately also to be able to influence it. The respective contact points are also analysed by means of a survey in order to determine the effectiveness of measures aimed at positively shaping touchpoints. Positive design here means that each individual touchpoint should create positive customer experiences. Because only when customers have exclusively positive experiences with your company within the customer journey is there a high probability that a purchase or contract will be concluded or that a service will be commissioned.
Example: Having outstanding products, an informative website or 24*7 support is great. But if your customers feel that you are not valued in the direct dialogue, the support never actually offers solutions, the waiting times are too long, then customers will quickly switch to the competition. The Customer Journey helps you to understand your company from the customer’s point of view by “tracking”, i.e. measuring, every point of interaction between customer and company, product or service.
Customers want more than just good products
Shoppers hardly tend to buy products on impulse unless it is a convenience purchase, preferring to know more about the products they are interested in and then talk about them with colleagues, acquaintances and friends, do a 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. The positive design of the customer journey plays a major role.
The sum of all experiences on the customer journey
The customer journey is therefore nothing more than the collection of all experiences that customers have with a particular company or brand at different touchpoints. When evaluating it, the entire customer experience journey must be taken into account 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 points of contact of the customer with 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 includes the individual touch points 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 journey is divided into different phases within the Customer Journey Mapping general within an AIDA-like explanatory model:
- Awareness / The product enters the consciousness
A sports colleague wears new running shoes during training
- Favorability / Interest is growing
The prospective buyer asks the colleague for details, performance characteristics, price. The shoe is advertised on posters. These also catch the eye of the prospective buyer
- Consideration / The purchase is being considered
Image, performance characteristics, price structure coincide with the customer’s ideas. The soles of the old shoes are worn out anyway. The customer searches for opinions and comments in forums and rating portals.
- Intent to Purchase / The decision to buy is solidified
The customer informs himself on the website of the shoe manufacturer. Then the customer goes to the retail shop and tries on the shoe
- Conversion / purchase is made
The customer buys the shoe. Either directly in the shop or online
There are also explanatory models that do not consider the customer journey model to end after the purchase, but extend the model described above to include the after-sales service phase. Basically, or optimally, the customer journey is an everlasting cycle.
What does a customer journey map look like?
It should be noted at the outset that there is no such thing as THE ONE Customer Journey Map. On the one hand, every company has its own templates, approaches and ideas about how to map the “customer journey”. On the other hand, the buying processes are also different depending on the industry or the medium. A customer journey map of an online retailer has completely different content than that of a car dealership, for example. Therefore, we can only sketch an example here so that you can get an idea of what a customer journey map looks like.
Example of a Customer Journey Map
Let’s assume a company that sells its products both online and through brick-and-mortar stores is running a sales campaign. Here, 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. It is crucial that this map includes all touchpoints as well as the wishes and expectations of the customers, measures taken by the company and how and where along the customer journey customer experiences are to be “tracked”, i.e. measured and evaluated,
Another example can be found 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. Further 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. The aim is to identify as many touchpoints as possible and to make them 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, customer experiences must be tracked. This means that you need to interview your customers and prospects at the relevant touchpoints, which is called customer journey tracking. Customer journey tracking is carried out by means of touchpoint analyses. Customer Journey Tracking does not require extensive customer surveys at the respective touchpoints in order to gain valuable insights into the customer experience. Rather, with short and concise questions you determine certain KPIs (key performance indicators), which
- determine the effort your customers need to reach a desired goal, such as finding information on the website of the offering company, going through an ordering process, reaching a complaint hotline, solving a support case. This KPI is called the Customer Effort Score.
- determine the general customer satisfaction with the help of the Customer Satisfaction Score and
- determine the loyalty and willingness to recommend of your customers with the Net Promoter Score.
Which KPIs are determined at which touchpoints?
Here, too, the approaches of the companies are different. Some companies use the Customer Effort Score, especially in the awareness and consideration phase, to find out whether the customer effort, especially at the beginning of the customer journey, runs without friction, information can be found quickly and contact persons can be reached quickly and easily. After the order has been placed, the Net Promoter Score is asked and again some time later the Customer Satisfaction Score.
Other companies use only one of these scores at the touchpoints along the entire customer journey. The Customer Satisfaction Score is very popular here, as it determines “general satisfaction” with the question: “Looking back on all your experiences with our company: How satisfied are you with us?”. The reason why companies also opt exclusively for one variant of the KPI determination is that with the use of the same survey method, the course of the “customer journey” can be tracked uniformly. Still other companies use the Net Promoter Score to measure the touchpoints uniformly.
Time curve 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 its weaknesses: it is hardly possible to actually record, i.e. track, all touchpoints and contact points within the customer journey mapping. The sales staff in a stationery shop will not be able to ask each of their customers which touch point to the respective product preceded the purchase decision, e.g. an advertising poster or the recommendation of a work colleague. Also, a customer survey is not possible at every location. Therefore, the term customer journey is basically limited in practice to the field of online marketing, where it also has its origin, because here contact points can usually be tracked and evaluated quite easily by tracking tools. But the term customer journey is now also justified as a model for offline retailing thanks to new, modern survey technologies. Although touchpoints and contact points cannot always be tracked directly, there are methods in market research to trace the customer journey, for example by means of surveys, and thus to influence it.
Customer Experience Management and Touchpoint Analysen
The topic of customer experience management has long since become a permanent fixture in customer-oriented companies. And the topic is becoming ever more extensive and complex. And it is moving further and further into focus. In addition to the creation of positive and the minimisation of negative customer experiences, the measurability of measures carried out within the framework of customer experience management has also moved more and more into focus.
After all, 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 the measurement of 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 their 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 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 how crucial it is to understand, measure and ultimately optimise your customers’ experiences at every touchpoint in order to stand out 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 numerous tools for customer journey tracking, offers a unique solution with an integrated customer journey dashboard that supports you in creating your map as well as in tracking. The special feature of the Customer Journey Mapping module is that you can see ratings from touchpoint analyses for each touchpoint at a glance! This way you know immediately at which touchpoint there is a need for action.
With our comprehensive set of tools for customer journey mapping and tracking, we have found a way to automate touchpoint analysis and make it cost-effective. This allows you to understand customer behaviour and pain points at touchpoints and gain a comprehensive understanding of all customer interactions. Mapping the customer journey, measuring and evaluating all customer touchpoints is much easier, more effective and faster with powerful customer experience management software like QuestionPro. QuestionPro Customer Experience Software and Enterprise Feedback Management Platform enables you to gain valuable insights by conducting comprehensive touchpoint analyses. Such powerful software helps companies to sustainably increase customer satisfaction (Customer Satisfaction) and customer experience (Customer Experience).
This article is only a rough explanation of the term Customer Journey. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions on the topic. We will show you how you can use QuestionPro to trace and measure the customer journey and visualise the customer journey model with software support. We look forward to the dialogue with you!