The Customer Journey

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

Harley Manning said it best in his recent Fast Company article calling the age we live in the “age of the customer.” I couldn’t agree more. Digital technology, access to real-time information and social media has empowered customers. Today, customers anticipate high levels of service, tailored experiences, and content that is relevant and fit to their needs. What’s more, 88% of American adults have mobile phones, and statistics for smart phones continue to climb—we’re only beginning to scratch the surface on how technology will change customers’ consumption of products, services and information.

So how can your organization keep customers engaged?

I’m sure you are familiar with the famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Well, that statement also applies to business. For your customer, it’s not about the transaction or sale (i.e. the destination). It’s the journey—the entire engagement or experience the customer has with your organization.

Think about the customer journey as a road trip—everything that takes place before, during and after you reach your destination. On road trips, you make several stops, take time to enjoy the scenery, and maybe even try a few new things along the way. Each stop is a touch point, the scenery is your brand, and new things are your organization’s services and products. Combined, each function contributes to a meaningful customer experience.

Let me take you on a customer journey to illustrate what I mean.

Let’s say you have a customer who receives a custom email letting him know that a product he regularly buys, but rarely goes on sale, is 15% off the regular price. (Thanks, Sales and Marketing!) Excited, he uses the Internet to make the purchase on your website. As he shops, he can easily navigate through the website and the shopping cart works wonderfully. (Cheers to the IT Department!) Finally, he makes it to the payment page to discover that your organization accepts multiple payment options, including credit cards and PayPal. So, with the click of a button, he finishes the transaction. (Nice job, Accounting!) After he makes his purchase, he receives the product on time, without damage. (Bravo to Logistics and Operations!) He then writes a grateful online review and the organization responds with a kind thank you note and small reward for his time. (Way to go Customer Service!)

The point is, organizations that fail to realize the importance of the entire journey, or focus only on the destination, miss an opportunity. The best way to keep customers engaged is to remember that it’s all about the customer and the ride. In the end, a great journey makes reaching the destination even better—and that’s what keeps your customers coming back.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

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