A Customer Journey Model is a Must-Have for Your Business

Previously, we discussed the importance of customer journey mapping in designing and outstanding Customer Experience (CX).  The ‘customer journey’ describes the steps that a customer has to take throughout their interaction with your business; everything from the moment of first contact, to the purchasing process, to ongoing support. Every time your customer engages with you, they’re continuing the customer journey.

Understanding the customer journey, then, is a critical first step toward great CX. Luckily, several customer journey models exist to help businesses understand what a typical customer journey looks like.

In this blog, we’ll be examining one customer journey model from McKinsey, and drawing out a couple of key insights to take back to your contact center. To find out more, read on.

Customer journey mapping is one of the most critical skills for CX professionals to master. To learn more, download Content Guru’s whitepaper: Mapping the Customer Journey: Why Customer Journey Mapping is Your Business’ Secret Weapon.

What is a Customer Journey Model?

A customer journey model is a strategy for understanding how a customer interacts with your business. The purpose is not to predict the future, but to develop a customer journey map than can account for customer behavior at a general level. Once you know what a typical customer is likely to do, you can work to accommodate the outliers.

One possible customer journey model is the one provided by McKinsey. This model consists of three stages:

  1. Active Evaluation – The customer takes stock of the market, researching and comparing different providers, then whittling their list of potential candidates down to just one at the moment of purchase.

  2. After the moment of purchase, the customer enters post-purchase exposure (though it sounds like it, this isn’t a medical condition). Here, the customer develops an impression of what a product is actually like to use. Expectations are met or disappointed.

  3. From here, the customer joins the loyalty loop. This is where the customer decides whether to stay with your business or defect to a competitor. It’s here that Customer Experience has the greatest impact.

At each stage of the customer journey model, you need to be working to understand your customers and deliver an outstanding Customer Experience. Depending on the customer, this can happen in a number of different ways.

The First Stage of the Customer Journey Model: Evaluation

The first step a customer takes when approaching your business is evaluation. They haven’t made a purchase yet, and they want make the best decision for their needs. During this phase, the customer will engage with your business at several different levels:

  • Online – The internet is the go-to information source for almost all your customers. They’ll discover you online, even via social media, and draw on your website as a primary source of information.

  • Webchat – It’s unlikely that a customer will pick up the phone at this stage; they might instead opt to use asynchronous forms of contact, such as webchat, email, or social media. A timely response to a webchat message can give the customer confidence that you take their needs seriously.

  • Comparison – The customer is comparing a range of different options at this stage. They’re trying to get a sense of how your business will be to work with. If your responses to messages are slow, confusing, or hostile, they’re going to lose interest in establishing a deeper relationship. The first steps of the customer journey, usually made via asynchronous touchpoints, are essential to winning customer trust.

The evaluation process has gotten shorter. With information available instantly online, customers are used to finding answers fast and making a decision even faster. Speed is of the essence; responding to customer contacts as soon as they come in is crucial.

Once a purchase is made and the customer won, it’s time to enter the phase of post-purchase exposure.

The Second Stage of the Customer Journey Model: Post-Purchase Exposure

From here, the customer gets to experience the product directly. Having a high-quality product is essential here. Updating regularly is important, too. But even the best product in the world will fail if you’re not supporting your customers in its use. No matter how simple you find the product, your customers, who don’t have your level of hands-on knowledge, are going to struggle.

Providing reliable support is essential here:

  • At this stage in the customer journey model, customers will be much more likely to reach out. They’ll call you and expect you to pick up. After all, they’re paying customers. It’s time to make good on the promises you made during the sales promise, and prove that you still care, even after the sale is made.

  • That means being available to your customers at all times, and particularly during moments of peak demand. If you’re providing a service to your customers (such as insurance, or electricity), and the customers can’t access that service when they need it, you’ve defeated the point of your own existence.

  • It’s no exaggeration to say, then, that a customer journey model is absolutely essential to service industries. Without it, you simple can’t deliver on the promise of your business.

A customer might tolerate poor communications for a while, but when the time comes to renew, they’re going to think long and hard about the quality of the service you offered. And you might not like the outcome.

The Third Stage of the Customer Journey Model: The Loyalty Loop

McKinsey’s customer journey model shows the customer reaching a critical point (what they call the ‘trigger’). In this cases, this will represent the point when your contract with the customer is up, and it’s time to renew. But, depending on your sector, this can be any number of things. Let’s say a customer moves house; they need new utilities providers. Will it be you? Or perhaps the customer purchases a new car; will they go back to you for car insurance? Sooner or later every business has to face the music.

  • During these periods, proactivity is king. That means you need to be measuring customer sentiment during every interaction, and as often as possible outside of these.

  • To accurately measure customer sentiment, you need regular proactive measuring. That means reaching out to customers via email, SMS, or even phone, to check in and nip any problems in the bud.

  • To keep track of all this data across your business, you’ll need a unified reporting interface that can present a bold big picture, or drill down into individual customer sentiment.

  • Backing all of this is AI-powered sentiment analysis. Even if customers don’t answer sentiment questionnaires, they’ll still drop sentiment clues during interactions that can be monitored by AI. Leveraging new technologies is the best way to keep accurate tabs on all your customers.

If you’ve done your job properly, the customer will choose to continue with your business. If you’ve made a customer feel safe and welcome, they’ll prioritize your business over the shiny, new alternatives. There’s no future-proofing quite like customer loyalty.

Customer Journey Modelling with storm®

A customer journey model is an essential first step in designing outstanding CX. An accessible, flexible solution gives you full control over the customer contact, and the ability to identify and address customer pain points as they. Content Guru’s cloud CX solution, storm® provides this through storm FLOW™, a powerful customer journey mapping tool with an accessible, no-code, drag-and-drop interface. Through storm VIEW™, you can drill down into customer sentiment and the macro and micro levels, presented within a flexible, intuitive interface.

Ready to learn more about customer journey modelling tools? Continue your CX journey by downloading Content Guru’s Customer Journey Mapping whitepaper, detailing strategies for mapping the customer journey.