It doesn’t matter if you’re a big company, or a small business, we all must think about what our customers want and how we get them from that first stage, where they’ve just heard about your business, to the purchase and advocacy stage.
This is called the customer journey, and by making a journey map, you can plan your customers’ route, ensuring you meet their needs along the way. Does this sound complicated? Are you glazing over? It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Knowing what your customers want
The first stage starts before your customers even know you exist. This is the part where you do your research to find out what people want and need from a business like yours…and knowing your ideal customer.
Let’s take sports trainers as an example. You could say that your ideal market is everyone, but it’s important to niche down to a narrower market in order for you to be able to target them with your content. So, are you going to concentrate on comfort, or go for pure fashion? Are you going to target younger people or older people? What colours do you want to go for? What style? So, before you can look at the customer journey, you need to know exactly who your customers are. You can do this by looking at your current customers, look at the insights on your social media pages and the analytics from your website.
Build a few buyer personas, so you know what your customers like, what they want and what makes them buy.
Stages of the customer journey
Stage 1 – Awareness
This is where your customers first hear about your business or have their first experience of what you offer. They see this largely through your marketing. It might be they google a product of yours and it appears on a search engine like Google. Google could point them to your website or online shop, it might show them your business profile on Google, or show your social media pages.
They may see a physical flyer, pick up your business card at an event, see an advert in a local magazine, or it might be someone you get talking to, who asks what you do. They also may hear about you through word of mouth from their friends or relatives.
Where and how you market your business will depend on their age and lifestyle, so that’s why knowing your target market is so important. If you are marketing to an older audience, for example, some of your marketing would probably be through Facebook. But if your audience is much younger, you would use as many social media channels as you can, especially TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The younger generation spend most of their free time online, so that’s where you’re most likely to find them.
Typically, people must be exposed to your business at least eight times before they start to recognise it, so it’s not a quick process.
Stage 2 – Consideration
This is where your potential customers are looking at what you have to offer and are thinking about whether your products or services fit the bill for them. Do you solve a problem they have and are you the person to go with over others they’ve seen?
Basically, are you worth investing in?
Your customer reviews and testimonials are what makes a difference in this stage. They want to see social proof that you’re as good as they’ve heard you are.
This is also where blogs come into their own – articles that potential customers can read that give proof that you know your stuff. The same applies to email newsletters. They may even sign up to your newsletter months before they become a customer.
The other thing that influences potential buyers at this stage is what they can see. Good images of your products, with good descriptions, telling them the benefits of your products – how they help, what they do and how potential customers can’t live without it! How will your product or service make their lives better?
So, good images and video on your website, online shop and social media are crucial.
Stage 3 – Purchase
They’ve liked what they’ve seen, are convinced you are the right person to buy from and they go to your website or online shop to buy.
At this stage, it’s vital that your website or shop is easy to navigate, that it’s easy to pay for what they want, and everything is crystal clear as to what they can expect from you.
If they ask questions at this stage, getting a timely answer is an absolute must. Customer service is also an important part of the customer experience and their journey and can make the difference between getting that actual purchase or them going away and never returning.
Stage 4 – Service
Service is about going that extra mile for your customers. That age-old adage that says the customer is always right must come into play here, whether you agree or not. If your customer service hits the mark, you won’t go far wrong.
Things like a quick and efficient delivery service, securely and nicely packaged. You can’t always control the postal service and delivery times, but so long as you get an order out quickly and stay connected with your customer, this will go a long way to enhancing their customer experience.
If something does go wrong, don’t try, and hide it – be up front with your customer and admit to any mistakes and take immediate steps to rectify it. This is where communication is key – replying to emails, replying to complaints quickly, trying to resolve any issues to keep things running smoothly.
Similarly, if you have customers who are happy and tell you they are happy with your service, reply to them too and thank them for their comments. Always reply to every comment on your social media posts, every email you receive and reply to any message you get on social media. If you come across as genuine and friendly, and as a business who really cares and values its customers, things will go well.
Stage 5 – Loyalty
Loyalty is as it suggests – encouraging customers to be loyal to your brand and business. It’s about encouraging them to come back for more.
Gaining new customers is something we all aspire to, but retaining your existing customers is also crucial to the success of your business. So how do you keep that loyalty?
Send thank you cards with their order and maybe offer a small discount for their next order or add in a little small gift.
Introduce a loyalty scheme, with a card, so each time they buy from you, they get points. When they reach a certain number of points or have bought from you a certain number of times, they get a free gift, or a voucher valued at a certain amount that they can spend on your products or services.
Don’t ignore your customers once they have the product they’ve ordered. Leave it a couple of weeks, then message them to ask how they’re getting on with your product and how it’s working for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for a review.
Quite naturally, we don’t always think to leave a review if we’re happy with something – people typically only think about reviews if they have a bad experience. Sometimes a little prompt is all they need to leave a review on your social media page or website.
Invite them to follow you on social media, read your blogs or sign up to your newsletter.
Stage 6 – Advocacy
Advocacy – where the customer becomes your fan and tells everyone about how wonderful your products and services are. They use their experience with you and your business to shape other potential customers’ opinions. They might comment on your posts or share posts on social media.
They might talk about this amazing product they’ve bought from you to their friends and family, or they might give great stories about how your service is one of the best they’ve come across.
How customers behave at this advocacy stage is dependent on how they were treated in the other stages. Often it’s down to the overall customer experience they had with you, your brand, and your business.
And there you have it – the customer journey in seven steps. If you’d like help with any of these stages, or want help with identifying your target market, so you are hitting the ground running, give me a call or email me. I’m always happy to help.