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Customer Journey Mapping for Small Businesses

You may have heard of a customer journey map, but are wondering what it is and how businesses can benefit from it. The customer journey map is one of the best ways to get inside your customers’ heads and understand their perspective. Understanding how they interact with you throughout each stage will help improve not only their experience, but also boost sales for businesses who use this tool effectively.

What Is a Customer Journey Map?

Your customer’s journey (sometimes called a user journey) is their experience from the moment they first learn about your business, to when they engage in purchasing your product or service, to when they receive after-sales communication. It is the entire lifecycle your customer goes through to convert from a prospect to a satisfied customer.

So, what is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is the visual representation of your customers’ journey when engaging with your business. Customer journey mapping is used by many companies to understand every detail of their customers’ experience from discovery, to purchase, to long term customer service and retention. 

Why Is a Customer Journey Map Important?

There are many reasons creating a customer journey map is beneficial for your business. Although no two customer journeys are alike, a customer journey map can help you ensure consistency in providing a great customer experience. It takes time and practice to create a customer journey map that is clear and effective, but it’s worth the effort.

An effective customer journey map can help you better understand and empathize with your customers. In other words, it will help you put yourself in your customer’s shoes. The customer’s experience should be illustrated at every touchpoint, until they achieve “satisfied customer” status. By doing this, your company can identify improvements to make the experience more efficient and rewarding.

Successful customer journey maps accomplish the following:

Create a Desired Outcome

Whether it be contacting you for a free consultation or purchasing from a specific product line, your map should have a specific purpose and goal in mind. Are you creating a map to improve customer service, generate more sales, or eliminate specific pain points? Use your map as a tool to clearly identify obstacles on this journey, address them, and then eliminate them. 

Identify Touchpoints

In mapping the customer journey, touchpoints refer to the platforms or locations where customers interact with your business. It can be an advertisement, a social media post, a website, or a Google search results page.

Customers often go through multiple touchpoints on their journey. For instance, they might have heard of your business from a Facebook review before visiting your website. Identifying all potential touchpoints your customer may go through will help you better understand how you can impact them.

Eliminate Barriers

Along their journey, a buyer’s desire to purchase can weaken as doubts creep in. Is this really the right choice? Should I think about this for a few more months? When mapping, anticipate barriers to closing the sale and create plans to reduce or eliminate them. 

Many sales are influenced by price, and they can be lost if a lower-cost alternative is available. Train (or re-train) your team on how to sell value over cost and the points of differentiation that make your offerings unique over the competition. Consider if it is OK to offer discounts or incentives to compete in tough situations and what concessions will make an impact without too much sacrifice to the bottom line.

Be sure your marketing and sales materials are in sync and proactively address the questions and concerns (i.e. objections) that come to mind along the customer journey. This can effectively remove small barriers before they become big obstacles to closing a sale.  

Retain Customers

Your existing customers are one of your most valuable assets! It’s important to invest in a plan to ensure their satisfaction and retention. After all, you spent a lot of money and time to win them as a customer. Make sure they stick around.

How are you maintaining contact with them post-sale? Your map should address the content you will generate to market to and serve your customers. You should continually evaluate this content to make sure it’s timely, relevant, and interesting. 

Keep your customers up-to-date on news and promotions through regular social media posts, emails, newsletters, and website updates. Blogs, guides, and ‘how tos’ are also excellent ways to help customers without being overly sales-focused. Overall, digital marketing is the quickest and most efficient way to reach your customer base. It can also attract new prospects to your website to learn more about your offerings.

Listen to your customers’ feedback on your products and services to understand what you are doing well and how you can improve. They are experts on their own experience! Encourage them to share their thoughts and make it convenient for them to do it. Many companies check in with their customers through email surveys or good old-fashioned phone calls. Progressive companies are using apps to make it even easier for customers to share their feedback through a simple text message.  

Interested to see how the customer journey unfolds in a “real world” scenario? Here’s an example from “Ann”, a mom looking to rent a vacation home for a family summer vacation.

Mapping your customers’ journey will help you understand their experiences while engaging with your business. It will allow you to identify and better relate to the different types of customers you are serving (or hoping to serve), and it will help you develop strategies to improve the process from beginning to the end. Considering the factors above will help you make your map more comprehensive and effective. If you need some assistance, use our downloadable Customer Journey Template to help guide you through the process.

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