Technology has put more power in the hands of your customers today. They are able to use the tools and information at their disposal to research products, find the best deals and get them shipped right to their doorstop without ever leaving their home or office. According to an article in HBR.org, this has shortened the traditional customer purchase journey. Now, the consideration period is greatly reduced and the evaluation stage is all but eliminated.
These same forces have also given rise to the advent of customer-centric marketing, allowing retailers and brands to use all the data and analytics at their disposal to better understand the customer and put each customer at the center of everything they do. We now have the ability to understand what our customers want and how they want to engage with brands, stores or manufacturers. With all this data available, you can create a customer journey map and use it to help your company now and in the future. With it you can create customized customer experiences that will attract shoppers and keep them engaged over the long haul, creating loyal customers. This is especially important for stores and their retail marketing efforts.
Why is creating a customer journey map and owning the customer experience important? Here are 10 reasons why:
- 86% of marketers say they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020. This means they will have captured shoppers loyalty and will be responsible for the entire customer journey. If you are part of the 14% who don't, you will have a hard time prying those customers away from your competition.
- Customer journey maps provide enormous amounts of data. By integrating brand perceptions, individual touchpoints, operational performance metrics, customer pain points, improvement opportunities and other customer-facing elements, you can achieve great insights into your customers' experience and find new ways to enhance it, creating more loyalty.
- Customers stay because they benefit from the journey itself. Knowing how to create a customer journey that benefits both you and your customers will be key to owning the experience. Without doing the work to determine exactly what that is, either you won't keep your customers on your path or worse yet, you will but it won't benefit you.
- Customers are quick to abandon stores/brands that don't provide a good experience. It's easy for them to find and migrate to a company that provides a better experience and today's customers have no qualms about moving on from bad experiences or even just to better ones.
- Find customer needs, whether you're meeting them & where opportunities lie. When based on good research and analytics, your customer journey map shows you what the customer wants at each touchpoint. Comparing the wants and needs to what you actually deliver will show you were the problems and opportunities are.
- You can personalize the customer experience. 75% of consumers like it when brands provide personalized products or services. 56% are more inclined to use a retailer that offers good personalized experiences.
- Create strong loyalty. By understanding the customer journey and owning the experience, you can create strong ties to your customers that make them very loyal to your brand or store.
- Customers share their experiences with others. The internet and social media has made it very easy for customers to share their experiences. And, if those experiences are very good or very bad, they will show up in customers online discussions – on review sites, social media, even your own website. This can help you gain new customers if the experiences are good enough to share.
- Get everyone in your organization on the same page. When you create a customer journey map, you now have a map for how your customers can get the best possible brand experience with you. You now have a solid document you can share with everyone in your organization to make sure the customer experience is consistent at every interaction.
- Increased revenue. Research has shown that the more you enhance the customer experience and keep their purchase journey on your brand or store's path, the more likely they are to continue buying from you – more often and larger purchases.
With the right database management, and strategic planning, you can use the data and analytics tools at your disposal to fully understand your customer's journey, own the experience and keep them in your own loyalty buying loop. If you don't do it, someone else will. It's too easy for consumers to find the experiences they're looking for and take their purchasing power there. That's the bad news. The good news is, you can figure out what those coveted experiences are and provide them to your customers.