May 11, 2021
The Digital Opportunity: Improving Customer Experience
Not that long ago in the traditional marketing world, companies introduced a product and did some radio, TV, and magazine ads about it. Then customers went to physical stores to choose among brands and purchase the product. Well, that chapter of customer experience is closed and well behind us.
As customer experiences became more and more digital, companies had to change how they interact with their clients. Consequently, today’s digital customer experience is immensely different. Gone are the days when greeting a customer face-to-face with a firm handshake was enough to win them over.
First of all, nowadays, there are many more touchpoints where you can connect with your customers as they are exposed to countless digital media channels and an array of online platforms. There are also more ways to buy each product, including websites, mobile apps, physical stores—or even a combination of those. Even more, we’re now even ordering with our voice via voice-assisted devices and software.
According to a survey, the average American citizen in 2020 had access to more than ten connected devices in their household. That means that our customer journey—from initial awareness to purchase has become one of many pathways and multiple devices. And each of these devices has numerous points of interaction, from texts and calls to messaging services, social media, and games. In fact, the average U.S. adult spends 3 hours and 43 minutes, or roughly 50 days a year, on their mobile devices each day.
Just think about the last purchase you made. How many times did you interact with the brand as you did your research? How many times did you visit the brand’s official website before you made the final purchase? Did their FAQs section or web chat help you with your decision?
Obviously, there are more online customer touchpoints and digital consumer stages than ever before. For that reason, businesses need to develop an entirely new outlook on how they interpret customers’ requirements to deliver excellent experiences. And it all starts with creating what we call the digital customer journey map.
This map is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with our company and brand. Each particular interaction is a touchpoint offering the opportunity to gain deep insights into your customers’ behavior and motivations. To streamline your customer experience and be regularly available to consumers throughout the full extent of their online experience, read on to find out why you should build a first-class customer journey map for your business.
What Is A Digital Customer Journey Map?
Basically, the digital customer journey map is the complete framework that showcases how your customers connect with your business and products digitally. It displays all the different stages that users go through as they interact with your digital channels, from awareness to consideration, and finally, purchase.
In other words, the customer journey map is the visual representation of every experience your clients have with your business. During their encounter with your brand, a customer will likely engage or be reminded of your brand and products on various platforms and in different ways. A customer journey map helps your company deliver a streamlined narrative of customer experience throughout the online sales funnel.
And even if it may seem that the journey from the initial interaction through to a sale is quite simple, know that it’s anything but. You need to put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer. Each customer is bombarded with thousands of ads, newsletters, and content daily. This makes the whole customer journey with your brand more complicated. A well-thought-out digital customer journey map is the solution to making that experience easier and more favorable to your business.
In the modern digital landscape, clients can communicate and interact with your business in countless ways, including following your brand on different social media channels, accessing your company website from search engine platforms like Google, or reading an informative blog post like this one.
For that reason, by developing a clear visualization of every possible way a prospective customer can engage and contact your brand, you can create a well-rounded digital customer journey map that can help you keep customers engaged. At the same time, the customer journey map will actively assist you in increasing your conversions, revenue, and retention rates.
5 Stages Of The Digital Customer Journey
The complete digital customer journey is essentially the road each customer walks with a brand to purchase and retention—from the initial observation of the product to buying it and successfully using it. The journey blends all the touchpoints or points of interaction a customer has with a business.
This is when the company collects valuable consumer data, transaction information, cross-device browsing history, and customer service interactions to drive further business decisions to sell more and increase company revenue.
Nevertheless, there are five cornerstone stages of each digital customer journey:
Awareness is the point at which a prospective customer first notices your product. Awareness can come from many channels like word of mouth from friends and family or social media, brand advocates and influencers, search engine suggestions, advertisements, email marketing campaigns, blogs, apps, texting services, and affiliate marketing.
The stage of consideration is when a prospective customer likes what they’ve seen from your business, so they start thinking about it and conduct research on the desired product. In this stage, your clients will typically visit your official website, sign up for free trials, demos, webinars, check out for discounts and promotions, maybe speak with a customer service agent or a chatbot, check online reviews on your product, and read through relevant testimonials.
The purchase stage occurs once a customer leaves the consideration stage and decides to buy your product. To purchase online, customers will commonly need to create an account or log into their existing one, fill their shopping cart, be upsold or cross-sold, apply discounts, choose a payment option, check out, and leave a review of the purchasing experience.
The experience stage is entitled to how well the order has been fulfilled. As a rule, it includes shipping and delivery options, tracking, online help center, support content like FAQs or assembly guides, chatbots, assisted chat, guarantees, follow-up procedures, and social media interactions.
Personalized rewards, loyalty programs, newsletters, and social media interactions are all well and good. But developing an emotional connection with the customer and ensuring they’ve received the value they expected from the brand is the new approach to loyalty. At this stage of the digital customer journey mapping, make sure that you receive feedback from the customers who’ve already purchased and used your product to determine what they think of the quality of your product, did they receive good customer support service along the way, and more.
How To Create A Digital Customer Journey Map
Now that you understand what a digital customer journey map is, the five stages of each digital customer journey and how it can help you take your digital marketing efforts to the next level, let’s uncover how to map out the online journey for your customers. Customer journeys are complex, so the job of the map is to essentially make it as clear, focused, and straightforward as possible.
Utilize Your Sales Funnel To Define The Buying Process
Hypothetically, your company will already have an online sales funnel developed that showcases how leads move through your marketing strategies and content to complete a purchase. Use this information as a starting point when determining how many potential touchpoints a customer has with your business and how each interaction feeds into the next to create the guideline for your digital customer journey mapping.
Put Yourself In The Shoes Of Your Customers
Make sure to walk through all the stages of your sales funnel as a client would, noting the touchpoints. What social media platforms would you use to interact with your brand? Does your website offer all the correct information? How easy is your buying and booking process? How helpful are the after sales employees? Is your loyalty scheme attractive? Would you be happy to recommend your products?
If you really want to optimize and improve your digital customer journey mapping and increase the level of customer experience, make sure to review transcripts of support calls and emails to identify where a purchase process went wrong and work to fix these issues before moving on to the next step.
Put The Effort In To Customize The Touchpoints Of Customer Interaction
By now, you already know which social media platforms attract the most customers, how your purchase process works, how to respond to reviews, so your company demonstrates proper care about its customers, how reliable your after sales unit is, and how you reward your loyal customers.
These are all essential touchpoints that are specific to your company. When you bolt them onto your digital customer journey map and collect valuable feedback about each of them, you’ll be able to see if they are performing as well as they think they are. Customize the bottlenecks of the map and offer the best service possible to your clients.
As businesses scale, it becomes more and more challenging to keep track of individual customers. Enter customer personas. Customer personas are fictitious customer types based on real ones, using psychographic and demographic profiles that include age, gender, socioeconomic background, interests, lifestyle, opinions, likes, dislikes, and attitudes.
Each customer persona travels along their customer journey differently, so enabling your company to recognize the differences between different types of customers will help you create fantastic customer experiences and different digital customer journey maps for everyone.
Constantly Optimize Your Digital Customer Journey Map
Whether we like to accept it or not, digital customer journey mapping falls under the umbrella of digital marketing strategies. As with most aspects of digital marketing strategies—your digital customer journey mapping will frequently change as technology develops and more digital platforms are introduced into the buying cycle.
One of these new technologies that you should keep a close eye on is the AI-influenced machine learning technology that can help you shape better customer journey mapping and provide unparalleled value for your brand and customers.
Machine Learning’s Influence On The Digital Customer Journey Mapping
Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, is a powerful technology packing a punch with mind-blowing innovations to empower modern businesses in all industries. Even though the concept of machine learning might sound complicated and a bit far-fetched, the truth is that both small startups and corporations widely utilize it.
As you already know, digital customer journey mapping is one of the fundamental operations to drive value and ROI, and now, machine learning is shaping the process of customer journey mapping in extraordinary ways never witnessed before. Here’s how.
Machine Learning Can Help You Understand The User Journey From Intent, Need, And Preferences
The customer journey has always been instrumental for companies to build and maintain a valuable revenue-generating customer base. Understanding the journey helps companies target relevant customer audiences, identify their actual needs, and provide bespoke solutions.
Yet, understanding the customer journey through a bird's-eye perspective doesn't get the job done anymore. Modern-day organizations need to understand the digital customer journey through intent, needs, and preferences. Put differently; companies need to start looking at the emotional side of user analytics.
Up until now, this was a massive challenge for companies to pull off. However, with the aid of machine learning technology, software solutions like Y Meadows can help you understand user intents, needs, and preferences through abundant amounts of data collected along different touchpoints of the customer journey map and help your business gain a more profound and keener understanding of customer mindset. Once you gain a clear understanding of the digital customer journey through intent, needs, and preferences, you can start deploying a suitable framework to build a meaningful customer persona.
Machine Learning Can Help You Create Personalized Customer Experiences
By fusing customer personas and digital customer journey mapping data with an adequate machine learning algorithm, businesses nowadays can predict customer behavior in real-time and quickly create personalized suggestions and recommendations for each customer. Here’s how machine learning can help you deliver personalized customer experiences for existing and prospective customers:
- Through customer journey analytics and with the help of machine learning, you can automatically orchestrate actions for each customer at the right time, through their preferred channel, based on their entire digital customer experience.
- By setting up triggers along the journey, you can activate real-time recommendations, content suggestions, and dynamic offerings to specific target groups. These machine learning-powered triggers are much easier to manage and more effective than the traditional rule-based, coded systems of the past.
- By implementing machine learning-influenced digital customer journey analytics within your marketing efforts, your company can maximize user engagement and optimize user experience with real-time, personalized messages.
The digital customer journey map is an essential tool that’s utilized for creating exceptional customer experiences. By understanding the five crucial stages of each customer journey and creating a digital customer journey map for your clients, your organization can effectively eliminate pain points while ensuring that every touchpoint that occurs within each stage leaves the customer feeling emotionally fulfilled, satisfied, and happy. Because great customer experiences mean delighted customers, and happy customers mean loyalty. And we all know what loyalty means—profit.