You might’ve heard the terms “buyer journey” and “journey map”before, as they’ve gotten their fair share of the spotlight in recent years. HubSpot defines a customer journey map as “a visual representation of the process a customer or prospect goes through to achieve a goal with your company,” and it can be a really valuable tool to your business.
Even still, many companies aren’t using this because they’re not sure whether they should – or how to get started. Here’s an overview of how to enhance your customer service by crafting the perfect customer buyer journey, and corresponding journey map.
Check Your Buyer Personas
The first step in establishing a buyer journey is making sure you really know your buyer. Sounds simple enough, but do you have between one to three buyer personas clearly defined? These should be comprehensive pictures of your most ideal customers, based on past experience, market research and demographics. If you have these in place, great. If you don’t have buyer personas created yet (or just need to update your existing ones), here are some resources to help you get started.
Consider All Stages
Next, look at each of your personas one by one. This is a good time to bring together some of your salespeople and customer service folks, since they interact most with customers. This is where you discuss each stage of the buyer journey, starting with “Awareness” of your company and ending with “Purchase” (note: if you offer a product or service that can be purchased repeatedly, which most companies do, then you may also include a “Post-purchase” stage and end with “Repeat purchase/loyal customer”).
Here are some of the most common stages that companies include in their buyer journeys:
When/how/from where the buyer first hears about your brand.
When/how/from where the buyer conducts research to learn more about what you offer, how you compare to competitors and begins to evaluate your credibility.
When/how the buyer decides whether to make a purchase; may include additional, more in-depth research into your company and products/services.
When/how the buyer decides to complete a transaction with your company.
The point at which the customer has used your products/services once, and is now considering whether or not to purchase them again.
Repeat Purchase/Loyal Customer:
This is when a buyer decides to subscribe to your products/services if applicable, or makes some sort of commitment to using your brand on an ongoing basis.
Once you’ve laid out the stages that make sense for your company, talk with your team about what touch points happen within each one. This should include what the customer sees happening, as well as what is going on behind the scenes.
For example, in the first stage of “Awareness,” the customer might see your company’s banner ad while searching online. They may not act on it at the moment, but if you have retargeting in place it will serve up another more personalized ad on the next web page they head to. At this point, the customer may decide to click, taking them to a landing page and call-to-action. Each of these possible touch points should be included in your buyer journey, as they’re all possibilities of what the customer may see or do.
What Are the Goals?
Once you have your stages and touchpoints defined, think about why those are set up the way they are. What goals does your company have for each one? What is the customer’s goal at each point? You may find during this step of the process that your stages and touchpoints are flawed.
For example, maybe your goal is to gain new customers by getting referrals and great reviews from existing ones in the “Post-purchase” stage. But when you dig into this exercise and consider this goal, you realize you have no follow-up currently in place once a customer makes a purchase. So, how would any customers know to make a referral or review you? Remember it’s perfectly acceptable – and even encouraged – at this point to rework the flow, stages and touch points within your buyer journey so they better align with your goals.
Layer in Emotions and Motivations
Now comes the fun part! At this point, make sure to get specific feedback from the team members who interact with customers and prospects most often. Spend time talking through what buyers’ emotions and motivations likely are at a certain stage of the process.
For instance, let’s say you own a health club and one of your personas is a young mom (“New Mom Martha”) who has had a baby within the last year or two, and is eager to prioritize her health and get back into shape. She recently found out about you online and is in the “information-gathering” stage.
Your customer service team may tell you that people like Martha who they’ve spoken with are usually ready to enroll and just want to get started. They get frustrated by excess paperwork or a long sales process. Your sales team may echo this sentiment, and say they’ve had success sending Martha a quick one-pager about how other new moms have gotten fit at your club, and some details about the safety and ease of your childcare options.
So now you can note that in the “Information-gathering” stage, Martha is eager and may become easily frustrated if the process doesn’t move swiftly enough. It’s your company’s job to give her fast facts about what matters most to her, and lead her to a quick decision. Go through each persona and each stage like this, so you can see if you’re missing any content pieces or other touchpoints that could help move buyers through the journey more seamlessly.
Make it Visual
Once you’ve done all of this, it’s time to turn it into a true map. There are plenty of templates available online you can start with, or you can create your own. Just remember that the journey map should serve to visually lay out the buyer journey for each of your ideal personas and give your team members guidelines for what buyers need at each stage of the process. This might feel like a lot of work, but it’ll help you understand your customers much more deeply, as well as give you great insight into how to enhance customer service.
Need some assistance creating your buyer personas, buyer journey and/or journey map? We’re here to help! Contact us any time to learn more.