The Customer Journey is the sequence of all related steps a customer makes when buying a product or service. It starts much before the actual acquisition or utilization of the good or service and lasts indefinitely, with the customer having created a memory of the journey.
Now, why is all this important? We always see customer journeys being created by the marketing people, which is where it probably should begin but losing a lot of momentum in all other parts of the organization. Is the customer journey a marketing tool? Straight answer: No!
The Customer journey gives your whole value chain transparency as to how everything looks like from a customer perspective. The people responsible for the website can either focus only on their organizational task to run the website, or they could include a broader perspective as to how the website fits into all the other efforts of the company to serve the customer. It conveys not just the Corporate Identity but also the spirit in which the organization wants to serve its customers. What is the exact customer need when they decide to visit the website, and how is that connected to the rest of the customer journey? Imagine all parts of your organization fully aware of how they fit into the customer journey and would act accordingly. The more exactly that is happening, the more seamlessly the customer will perceive the experience with your company. Suppose every interaction, system and communication seems to come from a single source. In that case, we’ll make it much easier for customers to identify and connect with us on a deeper level.
Secondly, the customer journey allows measuring how reliable and repeatable the individual steps in the customer journey are. In surveys, a more global question like ‘Would you recommend this product to friends and family is a nice entry into customer understanding, but what you really want to know is how your customers feel about the individual key aspects of the customer journey. IKEA can pinpoint everything customers like and don’t like. For lifelong IKEA customers, it might be surprising, but among the highly liked aspects as per customer surveys is the product quality and how products are presented on the 2nd floor. Also, the option to test everything in-store and see the furniture staged in a real-life setting gets good marks. The car park, the round tour, and the self-service hall are the least favorable. Customer Journey thinking allows IKEA to surgically improve the customer experience where it really counts, creating memorable ‘Moments that Matter.’
At Apple, Steve Jobs had the ability – and power – to refocus the organization on what was relevant. And from a customer perspective, these are not 100 different things, but some carefully chosen moments define the experience. And that is where the trouble begins: It is easy to say that glass on a smartphone would be great. It needs a customer-focused perspective to understand its relevance and act on it.
The Customer Journey is the centerpiece of any effort to deliver a reliable and repeatable experience that makes customers return and maybe even spend more on your product or service. It’s not an exercise just for the marketing department and certainly nothing you want to keep in the drawer. The customer journey has the potential to be the unifying element to drive customer centricity in your whole organization.