The customer journey is the path that a customer walks, between the different touchpoints and interactions with an organization. When we talk about the customer journey the central focus is on the customer. Do we know who they are? How they behave? What are their needs or expectations? Which factors make them buy a product? The answers to these questions are fundamental to understand your current and future user/customer.
The personalized customer journey
When someone needs a product or service, they have a wide variety of brands to choose from in a highly competitive market. For your brand to stand out and build a lasting relationship with your customer, you need to offer the customer the opportunity to have a rewarding experience throughout their relational journey with your organization. The experience may be virtual or physical or it might integrate both.
Technology is helping enormously in this area by allowing organizations to secure the best support and establish connectivity in those distinct moments when a user interacts with the organization.
Example of a customer journey
The above is best explained with an example:
Lewis needs to go to the bank to purchase a new financial product that will guarantee him a comfortable future when he retires. He is torn between two or three companies (A, B, C) because they offer very similar products. However, he has discovered that company B allows him to make an appointment online, meaning he wouldn't have to wait. In the end, he decides to approach company B first. When he arrives, he discovers the bank is very busy, but there is a kiosk in the entrance which allows him to identify himself using a code assigned for his appointment. He is then sent directly to his financial agent at the appointed time.
These are just two examples of "touchpoints" between Lewis and financial company B, but it is quite possible that Lewis sees his experience with company B as personalized, pleasant, and satisfying. He even provides feedback using the survey systems at the bank and, in the end, he decides to take out a pension plan. Also, don't forget that Lewis is used to conducting all of his transactions online, so turning up at the bank branch and having to wait to be served... that certainly would not have gone down well with him.
Touchpoints along the customer journey
There are other touchpoints between your company and your customers, apart from what was mentioned above. Next to appointments, the most noticeable are the customer service points, reception, a business' digital devices or screens, or payment points. It is vital that you offer direct and personalized customer service at each of these points, as they will be the key to your customer's perception, which will ultimately create their experience. You can also develop other touchpoints thanks to technology that allows you to contact customers directly using their smartphones or standard cell phones and even wearables, while always respecting the customer's privacy. You should only offer information that is of interest to each of your customers. By strengthening the connection between your brand and your user, you deepen the relationship.
Customer journey management solutions
Any business that claims to offer the best customer journey must have complete solutions that structure, plan and improve the experience of the service, support and communication with the customer. Your organization itself will also benefit from having more information about the user's behavior, which will help you make better decisions and further develop a more customized service based on your customer's needs.
Companies ranging from financial institutions, drugstores and department stores to hospitals and government agencies are making strides every day in trying to offer their customers and the public the best relational experience thanks to technology.
This article has been edited and was originally published in Spanish on 21/10/2016.
If you are interested in learning more about customer journeys, download our complete guide to Customer Journey Management. This guide aims to give you a clear understanding of what Customer Journey Management is and how it works.