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How To Improve Your Customer Journey in 7 Steps

How To Improve Your Customer Journey in 7 Steps

Are you tired of losing customers? Do you want to create an unforgettable experience that will keep them returning for more? Well, you've come to the right place! This comprehensive guide will explore the secrets to improving your customer journey and taking your business to new heights.

So, what exactly is the customer journey? Ah, it's the path your customers take as they interact with your business – from their first brand awareness through the purchasing process and even post-purchase. It's like a roadmap that shows every step and touchpoint along the way.

Think of it like planning a holiday. You start by dreaming about the destination; then you research where to go, book flights and accommodation, pack your bags, travel there, enjoy your stay, and eventually return home…with hopefully some fantastic memories!

The customer journey is similar. Customers first become aware of your brand; they evaluate their options, make a purchasing decision, receive their product or service, hopefully, have a positive experience, and may even become loyal advocates for your business. It's a winding road with many twists and turns.

Why Is the Customer Journey Important?

An optimised customer journey is crucial because it helps businesses attract, convert, and retain customers more effectively.

Let's put it this way – imagine you're at a restaurant. You walk in and are immediately greeted by a friendly host who seats you right away. Your server is attentive, knowledgeable, and makes excellent suggestions. The food arrives hot and delicious. When you ask for the check, it comes promptly. As you leave, the host thanks you warmly and invites you back. Chances are, you had a positive experience and will return and recommend the restaurant to others.

On the other hand, what if the host was rude, the server was inattentive, the food was cold and bland, and the process of getting the check was a nightmare? You'd be unlikely to return, let alone rave about the place to friends and family.

That's the power of an excellent (or poor) customer journey. Every touchpoint, from awareness to advocacy, matters. Smooth out those bumps in the road, and you'll attract more customers, keep them happier, and turn them into loyal fans.

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The Stages of the Customer Journey

Customer Journey Funnel Outbrain

The customer journey can be broken down into several key stages:

Awareness

This is when a potential customer becomes aware of your brand or product. It could be through advertising, word-of-mouth, or online search. Your goal here is to pique their interest and make a solid first impression.

Consideration

At this stage, the customer researches and evaluates their options. They're trying to decide whether your product or service is the right fit for their needs. You'll want to provide them with valuable information and address their concerns.

Purchase

This is the moment of truth. The customer has decided to buy from you. You aim to make the purchasing process as smooth and convenient as possible. A positive experience here can set the tone for the rest of their journey.

Retention

Once the customer has purchased, your focus should shift to retaining them. This means providing excellent customer service, addressing issues or concerns, and finding ways to keep them engaged with your brand.

Advocacy

If you've done a great job throughout the customer journey, your customers may become advocates for your brand. They'll leave positive reviews, refer their friends and family, and continue to support your business.

Critical Benefits of Optimising the Customer Journey

Some key benefits of optimising your customer journey include:

Does that sound appealing? Let's dive into how you can improve that all-important journey!

Map Out the Existing Journey

You can't fix what you don't understand, so the first step is to map out your current customer journey. This will give you a solid baseline to work from.

Start by listing all the potential touchpoints a customer experiences with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase and advocacy. This could include:

  1. Advertising and marketing channels
  2. Your website and social media pages
  3. Online reviews and word-of-mouth
  4. The purchasing process (in-store, online, over the phone, etc.)
  5. Product/service delivery and first use
  6. Customer service and support
  7. Loyalty programs and post-purchase marketing

Get your team together and brainstorm each step. Talk to customers and analyse their behaviour across channels. Leave no stone unturned!

Map Out Multiple Journeys

Don't just map out one generic journey; every customer is unique. Account for different persona types, needs, preferences, and scenarios. For example:

  • Map out journeys for various customer segments (age, location, interests, etc.)
  • Map out journeys across different sales channels (in-person, online, etc.)
  • Consider journeys for first-time vs repeat customers
  • Look at journeys for customers making high-value vs low-value purchases

The more specific you can get with these maps, the better you'll truly understand the nuances of customer experiences. That will make optimising them much more accessible.

Analyse the Current State

What Is Customer Advocacy
Source: Playvox

With your customer journey maps in hand, it's time for some analysis and reflection. Get together (again) with your team to evaluate what's working, what's not, and where the most significant opportunities lie.

Identify Pain Points

Walk through each step and look for potential “pain points” – areas that may create customer frustration or friction. Some examples:

  • Confusing marketing messages that don't clearly explain your offering
  • A clunky and hard-to-navigate website
  • Long wait times to get issues resolved
  • Complicated purchasing processes
  • Inconsistent branding and messaging across channels
  • Lack of relevant post-purchase follow-up
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Brainstorm every possible pain point, no matter how small. These will become your targets for improvement later on.

Gather Customer Feedback

Don't just rely on your analysis – make customers a part of the process! There are many ways to gather customer feedback:

  • Online reviews and social media comments
  • Post-purchase surveys and follow-ups
  • Direct customer interviews
  • Online polls and focus groups
  • Observing behaviour with analytics tools

Ask probing questions about their experiences at each step, what they liked/disliked, and where they faced challenges. Their firsthand insights will be eye-opening.

Analyse Customer Data

Quantitative data provides yet another helpful lens. Review metrics such as:

  • Advertising engagement and click-through rates
  • Website traffic, bounce rates, and conversion rates
  • Cart abandonment rates and dropoff points in the purchasing process
  • Customer churn and retention rates
  • Net promoter scores and customer satisfaction metrics
  • Customer support ticket volumes from the AI contact center

Look for outliers – areas that are performing exceptionally well or poorly. This information and the qualitative feedback will paint a vivid picture of the current state.

Data Point Example

For example, say your website has a 40% bounce rate, with most users dropping off on the product pages. This likely indicates an area for improvement (unclear product info, issues on mobile, etc.). Match this data to customer feedback, and you can start pinpointing problems.

Prioritise Improvements

With a solid grasp of the current state, it's time first to prioritise which areas to tackle to improve the customer journey.

Create a Prioritisation Framework

There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but you could prioritise based on factors such as:

  • Impact – Which pain points have the most significant negative impact on customers?
  • Quick wins – What improvements could you implement quickly for fast results?
  • Cost and resources – Which improvements require minimal investment?
  • Competitive advantage – What areas could set you apart from competitors?

Or, consider an essential effort vs impact matrix:

Impact Effort Prioritisation Matrix (1)

Improvement Brainstorming

With your framework in place, start brainstorming specific improvement ideas. Re-examine your journey maps and customer feedback – what solutions could eliminate those pain points?

Here are some common areas to consider improving:

  • Brand messaging and marketing clarity
  • Website and mobile experience
  • Sales processes and funnel optimisation
  • Shipping, delivery, and product experience
  • Customer support and self-service
  • Loyalty programs and ongoing customer engagement

Get creative and push the envelope. Don't settle for incremental improvements – strive to reimagine the journey and drastically enhance the customer experience!

Journey Re-Design

With prioritised improvement ideas, it's time to re-design the ideal future state journey.

Map Out the Improved Journey

Like before, map out each touchpoint, but incorporate your key improvements this time. Visualise the seamless, delightful experience you want customers to have.

For example, map out the future state of your website experience, redesigning pages for optimal user flows. Or map out a streamlined purchasing process, removing friction and simplifying checkouts.

Get detailed – re-imagine every micro-interaction. Add in delight factors that go beyond just meeting basic needs. How could you make customers say, “Wow, this is amazing!”?

Design New Processes and Experiences

With your ideal journey mapped out, start designing the future state experiences and internal processes to support them.

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For example, redesign website pages and create interactive prototypes. Revise your brand messaging and content strategy—Reimagine sales processes from lead to close. Overhaul support flows with new self-service tools and agent training.

Involve everyone who impacts the customer journey – marketing, sales, product, engineering, service, operations. This integrated effort across departments will be vital.

Test, Refine, Repeat

Don't just throw improvements into production – take a measured, iterative approach.

Test new experiences and processes with smaller customer groups first. Run A/B tests on website changes. Pilot new support flows. Get feedback early, then refine and retest.

This continual cycle of designing, testing, learning, and iterating will help you optimise rather than implement flawed designs at scale.

Implement Improvements

With refined solutions in hand, it's time for implementation! This will require careful planning, resource alignment, and an agile approach.

Develop a Phased Roadmap

You'll have quite a few improvements planned across various touchpoints. Implement them in phases rather than a big bang release.

Prioritise your efforts into logical phases, grouping improvements that make sense (i.e. all website changes in phase 1, operational process improvements in phase 2, etc).

Develop a roadmap that aligns your implementation timeline to available resources and dependencies. For example:

Phase 1 (60 days) – Website and brand messaging improvements

Phase 2 (90 days) – Purchasing funnel and sales process optimisations

Phase 3 (120 days) – Support and post-purchase engagement enhancements

Build in buffers and remain flexible should priorities shift.

Assign Clear Ownership

For each phase and improvement, assign clear ownership and accountability. Nominate project leads, workstream owners, and cross-functional teams to own end-to-end execution.

Avoid silo-ed rollouts – emphasise coordination across marketing, product, engineering, and service departments. Remember, the goal is an integrated, holistic journey!

Execution Example

For example, assigned workstream leads could be:

Website Improvements – Marketing

Purchasing Funnel – Product/Engineering

Sales Process – Sales/Operations

Support Flows – Customer Service

Measure Results and Iterate

As you implement improvements, continually measure the impact. Put tracking metrics in place to monitor changes in key performance indicators like:

  • Conversion rates
  • Churn and retention
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Support volume
  • Revenues and customer LTV

If results aren't moving the needle as expected, adjust course quickly. Customer feedback loops will also continue to be invaluable.

The enhancements should drive a virtuous cycle – implementing improvements leads to better results and feedback, allowing you to iterate further and perfect the customer journey.

Sustain Improvements

Csat Kpis For Customer Service

Revitalising the customer journey is a collaborative effort. It needs to become an ongoing priority across the organisation to sustain gains.

Ingrain Customer Obsession

Foster a culture that is genuinely obsessed with the customer across departments. Keep the voice of the customer at the centre of all decision-making.

For example, make customer feedback and metrics a core part of regular team meetings. Use feedback to drive priorities and goals. Celebrate both big and small customer service wins.

The more you ingrain this customer-centric mindset, the more your teams will naturally strive to enhance the journey in everything they do.

Align Goals & Incentives

Ensure incentives and performance measures are aligned to sustaining journey improvements. Individual and team goals should ladder back up to optimising customer experiences.

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For example, marketing goals tied to engagement and conversion metrics. Sales comp aligned to successful onboarding. Product roadmaps are prioritised based on customer needs. Support scores reflect customer satisfaction.

The organisation will pull in the same direction with goals and incentives in lockstep.

Continue Mapping & Improving

Improvement is never “done” – make journey mapping and enhancements an ongoing practice. Revisit the process regularly:

  • Continue gathering customer feedback and data on a cadence
  • Update journey maps to reflect new touchpoints or shifts
  • Analyse pain points and opportunities in each review cycle
  • Brainstorm and prioritise the next round of improvements
  • Design, test, iterate, implement…then repeat!

Build this into annual or quarterly cycles. It will ensure sustaining momentum rather than letting new journeys stagnate over time.

The Payoff

Improving the customer journey takes work, but the payoff is immense for those who commit to it:

  • Higher customer acquisition and conversion
  • Lower churn and greater loyalty
  • Increased revenues and customer lifetime value
  • Happier customers who become passionate advocates
  • Competitive differentiation and a more substantial brand reputation

It's that seamless, easy, enjoyable experience that customers crave. Give it to them, and reap the rewards for years to come!

Build, implement, iterate – unlock the formula for customer journey mastery and your business will thrive. Delight your customers at every step!

Conclusion

To sum up, enhancing the customer journey should be a core priority for any business seeking to attract, delight, and retain customers.

You can craft a truly optimised journey by understanding every touchpoint, identifying current pain points, prioritising improvements, re-designing the ideal experience, implementing solutions, measuring impact, and continually iterating.

Make it an ongoing practice, foster a customer-obsessed culture, align incentives, and implement in phases. The results will speak for themselves – happier customers, higher conversions and retention, increased revenues, and a competitive edge.

Reimagine the path your customers take with you. Smooth out the bumps in the road. And watch your customers become loyal, passionate advocates for your brand.

Create a fantastic customer journey – that's how you win in today's competitive landscape. So, let's get mapping!

FAQs

How often should we map and analyse the customer journey?

There's no correct answer, but I'd recommend making this an ongoing, regularised process – perhaps quarterly or bi-annually. The customer experience constantly evolves, so you'll want to re-evaluate continually.

How do we prioritise journey improvements with limited resources?

Create a clear prioritisation framework that balances customer impact, ease of implementation, costs, and competitive differentiation. Use matrices like effort vs impact or score initiatives on each factor. That way, you can zero in on the highest priorities.

How can we get customers more involved in the mapping and improvement process?

Gathering qualitative customer feedback should be central – through surveys, interviews, social listening, etc. You could even form customer advisory boards to get frequent input. And tools like session recordings and behaviour analytics can give you an under-the-hood view of the genuine customer experience.

What are some quick wins we could implement for faster results?

Focus on lower-effort, high-impact changes like improved marketing/brand messaging, website enhancements, simplifying sales funnels and checkouts, and optimising self-service support options. Things you can design, test, and roll out quickly while more complex improvements are underway.

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Should we have a dedicated team focused on the customer journey?

While you'll want contributors across functions, having a core, dedicated CX team is beneficial. This cross-functional group can own the journey mapping, design, testing, and rollout. They keep the customer at the centre and ensure integration across departments.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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