What it is and why do I need to know it?
Simply put, the “customer journey” describes the journey your customers go on when they buy from your business. Starting at the point of discovering who you are, it includes the process of discovering your product, the route to purchase, and eventually, completing a goal – probably a sale, quote request, or a sign up form.
Understanding this process is extremely useful for you, but let’s look at it from a customer point of view. How can understanding yours possibly impact the customer experience?
Knowing and improving your customer journey can only make the buying process less frustrating and easier for your customer. According to a survey completed by SafeCycle, in 2019 87% of online sales were abandoned due to frustration at their experience.
This might include not being able to find what they want, no obvious buy now button, slow website, slow service, too many steps, lack of preferred payment options, no option to check out as a guest, too much information, not enough information, unexpected costs added at the checkout, or a generally confusing website or store.
We just cannot assume that the desire for our product is going to be enough to keep our customers engaged through to the final purchase. We must make it easy and pain free for people to buy from us. The market is too saturated to risk losing a customer to a competitor because of a jarring experience. Once they are gone, they are gone!
What if they do persevere and make the purchase? Having a frustrating customer experience may prevent a return purchase, it may also hold your customer back from recommending you to others, or worse, it could even lead to a negative review.
So, by understanding the customer journey you have created, you will have a golden opportunity to work on it and improve it. Your customers will be so happy you did! They did choose your business after all. If anything, you owe it to them to remove any barriers to purchase! To deny them your fabulous products or services would be cruel, if you think about it!
Do you know how many people abandoned a cart on your website/store in the last 7 days? Or if you don’t sell via an online shop, how many people made a genuine enquiry about buying your product or service and didn’t make it through to purchase stage? Google analytics is a great tool for this, or your online store provider should have a report you can look at. Failing that, check through your recent messages and just count them up!
Imagine being able to save just 10% of those abandoned sales? How much would that mean to you and your business? And how happy would your customers be, knowing that they received your fabulous product or service, pain free!
Why does this benefit your customer?
Working on your customer journey and streamlining it for them can only improve their experience and opinion of your company. It will help them find what they need quickly, help them see the benefits of your product, and helps them get to the checkout easily. It’s not about hard sell or even conning people into buying your stuff. It’s about giving people the information they want, when and how they want it, and removing barriers that stop them buying when they get to that stage in the process.
Then what’s a Sales funnel, aren’t they the same?
No, not quite. A sales funnel describes each step in the process of becoming a customer. Knowing how this works will definitely help you as you map your customer journey. Knowing where your customers are in the decision making process will really help you know how to use your customer journey more effectively, it’ll also tell you how to market to them. You can read more about sales funnels here.
I have more than one ideal customer, do I need more than one customer journey?
Yes! I have two golden customers at Mrs Mitchells and they both have different needs so I need to consider two different journeys. But, for now just pick your most common one and work on that. Once you have one just right, you can adapt it.
Follow your customer journey yourself
So let’s now look at yours. For best results, ask someone else to do this next step while you watch and take notes, if you don’t have a volunteer then you’ll have to do it yourself.
Start by making a quick sketch of what you think your customer journey might be. If you have no idea, just write down the first step on their journey. Think about how they become aware of you for the first time – do they arrive at your physical store, your Facebook page, a buy and sell site, your Twitter, Google, a referral from another website, directly to your wesbite, or something else?
Now note the date/time, go to the place of first contact, and imagine you are now your customer. Your goal is to find out more about your product or service and eventually “buy” it (create a gift code to use at the checkout if you use an online store so you can see this through to the end). Imagine the kind of information you might need to make a decision about buying your product, and start by searching for that.
If you are not sure what information your customers are looking for have a look through your emails to see what people want to know, also consider delivery times, prices, options, freshness, special diets, service area, opening hours, your location, collection details, do you go to them etc?
How many buttons did you have to press to find the right product and information? If some of the information is not immediately available, maybe you have bespoke pricing, how easy is it to find the place where you request it? How quickly does the information typically get sent out and how many emails typically are exchanged as the prospective client discovers all the information they need to make a buying decision? Finally, how easy is it to pay you? How many buttons does your customer have to press to complete payment? Do they have to sign up for an account? If they do, can they purchase straight away, do they need to confirm details to proceed with the sale, or do they need to be accepted for an account, maybe? Remember, every click and contact is a step in the customer journey.
If you had a volunteer to help you, sit down with them and talk to them about their experience. Did they find it easy, frustrating, a bit of both? Alternatively, take an honest look at your notes and remind yourself of the journey you’ve just been on. How many steps did you end up with, and how long did it take to get from start to finish? How do you feel about your customer journey now?
Less is more
The fewer steps the better in any customer journey. If there are too many steps, or it takes too long, your customers are in danger of losing interest, becoming frustrated, and going somewhere else.
Your job is to remove as many barriers as possible so it’s easy to do business with you. So have a look at your journey as it stands, keep your golden customer in mind, and consider their specific needs as you look for ways to streamline it.
Look first to see if there are any steps that could be combined or skipped altogether. Would a “Get a Quote” button on every page help? Is there a way of combining pages so that more information can be found on just one page? Does the information need to be presented in a clearer way? Would a simpler navigation bar help? Can you offer the option to checkout on your website as a guest? Could you offer card payments? Could you condense your text and answer your customers concerns more clearly? At each stage of the journey, do you make it clear as to how to get to the next step?
Do you only sell online, but your golden customer is in her 80’s? We often use tech to relieve our own discomfort, but forget about our customers completely. Would she feel more comfortable phoning you up and paying with her debit card? Is she baffled by bank transfers, or checkout pages?
Maybe you sell directly from a facebook page? Do people have to message you to get more information about your product and buy from you? How long does it normally take to complete a sale this way? Could the process be made easier and quicker for your customer if you used a website? Do you tell people how to buy from you in your social media posts? Do you have links to your store in obvious places?
Afternoon Tea Purchase
For this example, I tracked the experience of an afternoon tea purchase. I started by asking for recommendations on a local Facebook group and followed links to the businesses page. Here are the steps I took.
- Facebook page (a link was posted in a local Facebook group, and I followed it to the page)
- Facebook shop (this business had set up a Facebook shop which was displayed at the top of their page so I quickly saw their selection of products)
- Clicked on desired product (The product looked good and was in budget. There was a view on website button at the top)
- Clicked through to the website (arrived at the product purchase page, a banner at the top of the page informed me to “please contact us for availability”
- Clicked back up to go back to the Facebook page
- Sent a private message to the business to check availability (heard back two hours later, they could fit me in, but I was busy at that time so I waited until the evening before going back onto the website)
In reality I had already decided to buy from someone else, but I continue the process for research purposes…
- Restarted the process and found my way back to the website.
- Scrolled down to the bottom to find the add to cart button (page had highlighted two additional products that are frequently bought with this one. The product I wanted was £20. The add-ons took my basket total to £55! These items were pre-selected and the button said “add selected to cart!”)
- Unticked additional items
- Clicked “Add Selected To Cart” (was directed to the cart which had a calendar available for me to book a delivery date! Incidentally, the date I wanted was still available, it was an advance booking, but I wondered if it was possible for the date to sell out between sending a message and going into the website, especially if booking at short notice)
- Selected a Date
- Clicked for checkout (I stopped here as there are only so many afternoon teas I can eat in one day!
- The checkout options were fairly standard, there were choices to use PayPal or a card, and you could register, sign in or checkout as a guest)
Total time to get to checkout: 11 hours
Total steps: 16 (includes steps re-taken)
Wedding Photographer Purchase
I set out with the objective of getting more information and finding out if the photographer was right for my wedding. My goal is to book a wedding photographer. I started with a Google search and after scrolling a few pages I settled on these two to research.
- I clicked through to the website.
- Arrived on his Wedding Photography Page (had to scroll past 147 words of “SEO Vomit” in which he actually used the word photographer 18 times, and the name of the area he is available for work in 19 times within those 147 words. This is supposed to boost Google ranking but he wasn’t on the first page, and this causes high bounce rates. But more about that another day!)
- Scrolled Past the vomit and found some useful information about the service offered and some example photos which I loved. His phone number and email address were at the bottom of that page.
- Copied the email address
- Sent an email telling him about the wedding and requesting more information.
- Received a reply an hour later saying he’d love to help, he laid out some package prices but agreed we needed something more bespoke and asked if he could invite me into the studio to discuss my need in more detail. He suggested two options.
- I replied and accepted a time to meet up in a few days.
- I attended his studio and we discussed our specific requirements re photograph selection, timings, album choice, he gave us a quote, explained the payment process and his terms and condition, and we left
- He emailed the quote in writing the next morning
- I replied that afternoon and accepted his quote
- He replied an hour later with a contract to sign and payment details for our deposit.
- I signed the contract
- I paid the deposit via bank transfer that evening.
Time to quote: 6 days
Contacts: 9 (plus four to accept and pay)
Would you have bought from these businesses? What did you like? At what stage would the frustration have kicked in? Would you recommend either to a friend?
How would your business benefit from a 1-1 with an experienced business adviser/coach?
Book a consultation with us now and we’ll help you figure this stuff out and make a strategy that is perfect for you!