How To: Customer Journey Map
by Strategic Piece, on 5 Oct 2021
To personalize content and know how to be most helpful, you need an in-depth understanding of your target customer. This is where Customer Journey Mapping comes in. In this video, we talk about how this works, the 5 stages of the buyer's journey, how we evaluate each stage, and how to use the information you have gathered in this process.
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Matt: One of the cornerstones of delivering a frictionless, effective customer experience is understanding who your solution is for, why they buy it, and how they make that purchasing decision.
Without such an in-depth understanding of your target customer, it’s impossible to know how you can be most helpful to them or how to appropriately personalize your content and outreach to engage and delight prospects.
Melanie: Many of the projects we undertake at Strategic Piece include a significant focus on validating, deepening, and structuring our clients’ customer analysis.
One of the tools we deploy to facilitate this process is the Customer Journey Map, or CJM.
Matt: Journey maps are not a new concept and they are used by an ever-wider group of businesses.
Companies that have made them part of their everyday business operations report significant gains in sales efficiency, deal size, customer satisfaction, and more.
Melanie: So what is a CJM and how is it used in practice?
We construct a customer journey map with one specific buyer persona in mind. That’s a semi-fictional representation of people occupying a role that’s important to your customer’s buying committee.
Matt: For example, Technical Tom might hold sway over whether your solution meets the company’s technical requirements, while Finance Fiona’s buy-in will be needed to approve the business case and authorization for expenditure.
Melanie: Each of these characters will move through a buyer’s journey that hopefully culminates in them becoming a satisfied customer.
We usually break the journey into five phases: Awareness, Evaluation, Selection, Installation or Onboarding, and Renewal and Loyalty.
Matt: It begins with the Awareness Phase, where they are gathering information about the need or challenge they are trying to solve.
Solutions aren’t important, yet. This phase is about giving the challenge a name and quantifying its impact and the potential benefit of finding a solution.
In many cases, this is where the persona will decide whether it’s worth doing anything at all. Your biggest competitor might be the status quo.
Melanie: The second phase, Evaluation, is where they discover solutions and begin to compare their relative features and benefits.
They are still just gathering relevant information at this stage and not yet ready to make a purchase. Many companies make the mistake of going hot-and-heavy for the sale, which can be very off-putting to a buyer who is still evaluating their options.
Matt: Assuming they discover one or more solutions worth pursuing, the third phase of the buyer’s journey is selection.
Now they are gathering information to help them make and justify a purchase decision, which might require gaining buy-in or approval from other people at their company.
Traditional sales processes focus heavily on this step – emphasizing closing the deal over helping the buyer make an informed choice that’s right for them.
In today’s B2B world where “always be helping” is a winning mantra, your customer experience is still a success if it guides some prospects to purchase from a different supplier. Your solution simply wasn’t the right choice for them.
Melanie: Neither the customer experience nor the buyer’s journey ends when the sale closes.
Depending on whether you sell a hardware or software product, or provide a service, the next phase might be called installation, onboarding, or delivery.
This is where the buyer experiences your solution and can gauge whether it solves their need or challenge in the way you and they hoped.
Companies that provide resources and support to help new customers adopt and engage with their solutions achieve markedly higher customer satisfaction and repeat business rates than those that neglect this area.
Matt: Finally, you want as many customers as possible to move into the fifth and final phase, which is one of renewal and loyalty.
Satisfied customers will renew their license, extend their engagement, or make a repeat purchase – and will often spend more than equivalent new customers.
And hopefully some of them will become your advocates, recommending your solution to others with a similar challenge or need to be met.
This is a powerful and free form of marketing that you should actively encourage and facilitate.
Melanie: At each stage of the buyer’s journey, we evaluate six things.
What does the buyer need in order to move to the next stage? Needs are must-haves, without which they are likely to become stuck or give up altogether.
Matt: What else does the buyer want that might make it easier for them to proceed? These are nice-to-haves, things that are not essential but can be helpful.
Melanie: What beliefs does the buyer have about their challenge and possible solutions that might help or hinder their buying process? You will want to play-up the supportive beliefs and do what you can to change any unhelpful ones.
Matt: What emotions might the buyer be experiencing? Again, there could be positive emotions worth emphasizing and negative emotions worth acknowledging and assuaging.
Melanie: Fifth, what channels does this persona turn to for helpful information at each stage? You want to meet them on those channels with content that supports and enables their buying journey.
Matt: And finally, what tactics and technology can you use to position your company as a thought-leader on the challenge your buyer is evaluating, so that they are more likely to turn to you for a solution than your competitors?
Melanie: The finished customer journey map is a large matrix capturing your assessment of needs, wants, beliefs, emotions, channels, tactics, and technology at each of the five stages.
Just as important as the answers you capture are any gaps in understanding you identify. If you aren’t sure what to write in one of the boxes, that’s a valuable clue to do some additional customer research.
Matt: So, how does all of this information get used?
From a set of customer journey maps, you can extract key messages that you want to communicate to prospective buyers at different stages in their journey.
And you can identify which channels – ranging from in-person events to social media to websites and more – you should focus on to reach your target audience.
Melanie: You can choose which marketing tactics to prioritize and which to save for later.
And finally, you can identify technology to help deliver your content and nurture prospects as they progress through their journey.
Matt: That’s a lot of information in a few minutes.
As you can probably tell, customer journey mapping is powerful but requires time and careful facilitation to deliver maximum value.
If you’re wondering how well you really understand your audience and the journey your prospective customers follow when making a purchase, we’d love to help.
With a solid customer understanding in place, you’ll be well on your way to delivering a seamless, information-driven customer experience.
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