You’re not selling products or services online anymore. The paradigm has undergone a shift – you’re now selling experiences. The experience that your customers undergo is what they will remember and what will bring them back to your e-commerce store. How do you ensure that you’re providing your customers with a sensational customer experience?
It starts by understanding what your customers are thinking or going through while they interact with your business. How do you do that?
Say hello to the customer journey mapping!
What is a customer journey?
The customer journey is defined as the process during which a customer interacts with your company in order to achieve a goal, for example, a purchase. Using the customer journey, you can create a customer focus in your e-commerce company leading to the forming of a culture aimed at the needs and opinions of your customers.
The consumers’ interaction with brands, especially in the e-commerce industry, is quite difficult to track. There are different stages involved, from first learning about a brand to receiving a ‘thank you for shopping with us’ email.
These customer journey stages can’t be arbitrarily defined based on your perception of the customer journey. Rather, they are based on the physical experiences that your customers undergo. Using different sets of data, it has been decided that any customer journey can be broken down into five different stages (more on the stages later).
What is customer journey mapping?
Simply grasping the idea of a customer journey is not going to be enough. You must be able to put it into a form of visualization to use it to its full potential. You can ask your customers about their experiences with your company and use the information to draw up a customer journey map.
The customer journey map is a visual representation of the process that your customer has to go through to achieve their goal. It helps you to easily understand how the customer interacts with your company and how this interaction can be categorized and improved. It can be used as a resource by your team for multiple purposes.
Why is e-commerce customer journey mapping so important?
The customer journey map can help your business in a variety of ways. The role of the customer journey in marketing is of paramount importance as well. Furthermore, the customer journey map enables you to refine your touchpoints, thus creating an exceptional customer experience for your customers. It also allows you to pinpoint pain areas that need to be improved.
Some of the core benefits of e-commerce customer journey mapping are listed below. These benefits will help you understand why creating a customer journey is critical for your e-commerce company’s success.
1. Customer journey helps you craft effective inbound marketing strategy
Instead of trying to look for customers by using outbound marketing, you can help your customers discover you via inbound marketing. Outbound marketing generally involves using different tactics that are too broadly targeted at an audience that may or may not be your premium audience.
That’s why outbound marketing is not only costly but also inefficient. Furthermore, it annoys your potential customers. On the other hand, inbound marketing is where you guide the customer focus to content that is useful and something that the customer is already looking for, thus capturing their attention.
With a customer journey map, you will be able to understand what’s interesting and of value to your customers regarding your e-commerce website and what’s pushing them away. This will help you tailor your content so that it meets the needs of your customers more effectively.
2. Say hello to a new target customer base
If you don’t understand your customer journey, you don’t fully grasp your customers’ demographics and psychographics. Why is it bad? You’re regularly wasting time and money on targeting an audience that is too broad as opposed to an audience that would actually be interested in your content, services, and products.
When you research your customers’ needs along with their pain points, you will be able to create a detailed customer journey map. This will help you gain a much better understanding of the kind of people that are trying to achieve their goals via your e-commerce company. Once you have this understanding, you can tailor your email and SMS marketing strategies according to this new target customer base.
3. You can make your customer service more proactive
The customer journey serves as a roadmap to the customer’s experience. It can provide you with insight, thus enabling you to pinpoint moments when your customers will experience a delight. That’s not all, though; it can also identify moments when they will feel frustrated. By having this knowledge readily available, you can effectively plan and execute your customer service strategy.
Such a refined customer service strategy will allow you to step in at times that are ideal for enhancing your brand’s value to your customers. A proactive customer service renders your e-commerce company more reliable to your customers as well. For example, if you’re aware of a customer service surge in a holiday season, you can inform your customers that your team has been adjusted to cater to the holiday hours.
Furthermore, you can also let them know if other support options are available and what to do if an emergency requires immediate assistance. This leads to the customers being okay with it even if they have to wait a while longer while also allowing them means to interact with your company outside of working hours.
4. Enjoy an increased customer retention rate
Once you fully understand customer journey stages (more on it later) and have a clear understanding of your customer journey map, you will be able to identify areas that need improvement. By improving in these areas, you’ll be ensuring that your customers are experiencing fewer pain points, thus leading to fewer customers leaving your brand to shop at your competitors.
Thirty-three percent of American customers actually consider switching brands once they undergo a poor experience. Such is the competition that your e-commerce website is facing, and that’s why it is important to ensure that you’re offering nothing but the best possible customer experience.
A customer journey map can help you identify those customers that are going to leave. This gives you ample time to try and retain some of them. Why should you focus on retaining your customers? That’s because acquiring a new customer is about five to twenty-five times more costly as opposed to retaining the existing ones.
5. Customer-centric approach for your e-commerce company
Once your e-commerce company grows bigger, coordination between different departments to be customer-centric as customer service, success, and support teams can be quite difficult. For instance, your sales and marketing goals might end up getting based on what your real customers do not want.
That’s where a customer journey map can prove to be really useful. By sharing it with your entire company, you can ensure that it remains customer-focused. The customer journey map shows every step that a customer takes during their initial attraction to support procures after purchase. This concerns service, sales, and marketing.
Customer Journey Stages
The customer journey can be broken into five distinct customer journey stages. This is done so that the entire becomes manageable and so that evaluation and control becomes easier. There are different interpretations and names used for the customer journey stages. However, we’ll be using the following:
When a potential customer finds out about your brand for the very first time. This might happen because of an intentional search or unintentional owing to your branding campaigns.
This is when a customer has a need, and your product is a potential way of fulfilling that need. The customer already knows about your e-commerce company and starts to weigh the pros and cons of different options.
This is when the potential customer actually places an order. The most crucial factors during this customer journey stage include ease of choice, transparent transaction, customer service, delivery, return policy, and honest information about fees.
This is the stage where you’ll either retain or lose the customer. It is the most significant stage of a customer journey.
Since you know that this is the stage where your customers will go away, you should focus your efforts on not letting that happen. You can conduct surveys, put in testimonial requests, follow up with satisfaction calls, and provide how-to’s on your product or service in terms of content delivery and can offer discounts and rewards to retain your customers.
Most of the e-commerce companies fail at stage four and thus never reach this stage of the customer journey. Once this stage is achieved, though, your retained and engaged customers will become your brand ambassadors!
You should be working on getting to this stage, but not all brands succeed. For most, the customer journey ends after one or a few purchases because they fail at stage 4 – retention.
So how do you do it? If you’ve been guiding your customers through all the previous stages with care and attention, the simplest solution would be to simply ask to spread the word. For instance, as post-purchase experience (order tracking alongside order status updates, email confirmations, and so on) plays a crucial role in all this, you can leverage it to get more customer reviews.
In conclusion, e-commerce customer journey mapping is crucial if you want to improve customer experience quality. A good customer experience is linked with customer retention that can lead to repeat sales and your customers becoming your brand ambassadors.
Allocate some time to your customer journey and create a customer journey map for your e-commerce company. It will help you to scale your business up! Do let us know what you think of this post and if there’s anything that you would like to add to it.