STEP 5. CONSUMER JOURNEY MAPPING
We are all familiar with the sales funnel. At the top, it shows how a brand captures a wide swath of prospects, which through attrition during the marketing and sales process, is winnowed down to a much smaller number of buyers at the bottom. This is still essentially what happens. We set a wide net and yet only end up with a small fraction of prospects as buyers. The funnel is useful as a measure of the quantity of leads at each narrowing point in a sales process. But it doesn’t show us how to influence the movement of consumers through the stages of the funnel.
A great concept for this is the Consumer Decision Journey, first devised by McKinsey & Co. in 2009. This is a representation of the consumer’s journey from initial awareness all the way through purchase and then on to loyalty and advocacy. It is a valuable conceptual model that helps you to focus on creating better experiences at each interaction point. It teaches you how to influence behaviors that lead to conversion, repeat purchase, loyalty and advocacy. Unlike the funnel, it is a loop where the initial purchase is just a stop along the road, because it recognizes the importance of the loyalty part of the journey; a reflection of how powerful the post-sale influence of every consumer has become.
The idea of journey mapping is to chart the journeys that different personas take from initial awareness to first purchase and then through the experience of being a customer. This tells you what their key steps and interactions are likely to be. It also reveals the primary influences that shape attitudes and preferences along the way. If your mission is to truly serve the consumer and to anticipate their needs and wants, journey mapping becomes a central tool.
ACCORDING TO THE ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL ADVERTISERS, JOURNEY MAPPING TRANSLATES TO BETTER BUSINESS PERFORMANCE, WITH TOP PERFORMING COMPANIES HAVING A BETTER GRASP OF THEIR CUSTOMER JOURNEY THAN LOW PERFORMERS.
Not surprisingly, Amazon is really good at this. First they recognize that their website is their most important touchpoint. Then their customer experience mapping focuses on how personalization can humanize, as well as simplify and smooth, the consumer experience.
As we’ve discussed, each persona is different, and as such, has a unique journey that requires its own mapping. The mapping exercise can take two forms. The first is a workshop with key company stakeholders; the second is an exploration directly with target consumer segments. Obviously it’s best to do both kinds of exploration; however, when pressed for time and budget, the internal stakeholder route should be the minimum.
The stakeholder workshop is designed to tease out the knowledge of the customer that exists within your organization. It should be made up of key leaders as well as people who deal with customers on a day-to-day basis, such as sales and customer service. Participants share their knowledge of what happens on consumer journeys. It makes for great discussions and valuable insights. It also makes these key internal stakeholders more likely to actively use your journey maps to guide your on-going customer experience efforts. This helps the important shift to a consumer-orientation that your company has to make.
In every case you want to understand what’s happening at each of the key stages in the consumer decision journey. These can be generally described as:
- Trigger – What causes a consumer to begin thinking about a purchase?
- Consideration – Is this purchase necessary and feasible? What will it mean to them?
- Evaluation – Which product is better and why?
- Purchase - How and where is the purchase completed? Is it easy?
- Loyalty – What is the experience of the product. Will customers become advocates?
Different verticals may have different stages. But whatever they are, at each of these stages in the journey, we want to figure out the consumer’s goals and emotions; the triggers, pain-points and service gaps. We want to know the channels they use and their context; what content is needed, what kind of experience they want, what tools might be useful, what the brand’s role is, and how we will measure performance. We also need to identify those interactions which are true Moments of Truth that define or change a consumer’s perception of the brand.
These inputs start to build a comprehensive picture of how each persona type navigates their journey. At my office, for example, we map these journeys on a giant corkboard so that we can see the journey as a whole. It helps us to keep the big picture in mind as we search for those magic insights that can become the basis for competitive differentiation. These insights might tell us where consumers need more help or information, what needs or attributes are being missed, or what might make their journey easier and more enjoyable.