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What is it that you need to pay attention to, when you are optimizing marketing profitability, designing new products, measuring your organization, forecasting customer behavior in case of changes in the market conditions or deciding about investment allocation. In my opinion, there is one single theory, ideology and toolkit that can help in any decision-making and management development than anything else: Customer Journey. Lets start with definition:
Customer Journey Management: The art and science of customer-centric methods, skills and tools for synchronization of customer’s needs and company’s offering optimally by handling and managing offline and online touch points profitably.
Customer journey is literally the customer’s individual and personal journey covering all stages along customer’s transition from never-a-customer to always –a- customer. By customer journey we mean the whole customer life-cycle from brand as a platform to initiation, choosing and buying, using the product or service journey to re-consideration and re-purchase or attrition
Whenever talking about customer journey mapping with my clients, the same question comes up: ”Our business is different from others, so how can we apply customer journey mapping?” It is true, that the businesses are different, the decision-making dynamics are different and the journeys are different, even within the same business category two competing brands have different journeys.
Customer Journey is exactly what it sounds like. Customers perspective in the decision-making process from initiation to cross-channel decision-making path and eventually post purchase satisfaction & recommendations. Customer Journeys can be broken into five major parts you could consider as customer journey chapters:
Pre-buying Customer Journeys include brand as a platform, initiation, choosing and buying. Rest of them are post purchase journeys. Each pre-purchase customer journey is always subject to be influenced by other brands. CRM and very often customer journey mapping research is only looking at the brand’s own touch points and conversions. Majority of the business dynamics and customer experience is outside your own brand’s reach though. When you are mapping the customer journey and customer behavior you need to look at the customer’s chaotic experience and find order to it. Customers are using heuristics and simplifying their decision-making, you need to know what they are.
However, the core is to understand what can be done in order to improve the single brand’s customer journey success against all others and learn from competitors when losing. In many products and services this journey is not followed step by step. Recognising how people skip stages, buy spontaneously or use different heuristics (like brands) in guiding them, is as important as understanding the stages. Post-purchase customer journeys are easier to isolate within the brand’s influence. Because of this they are also easier to study and plan. In case of new needs or re-buying, the market influence is stronger again.
Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer