Just like you, your customers are on a journey. Whether you focus on B2B, B2C, or both, everyone is on a journey. Your business is on a journey, and either their business is on a journey or they personally are on a journey.
In this guide, we are going to discover how to map a journey and how to ensure you don’t just sell to your customer but join them on their journey. You need to learn how to partner with them and map their journeys. We will also discuss how innovation can ensure you are ahead of the curve and can proactively help your customers.
The very best thing you can do in business is to predict the journey and be there with a solution to your customer’s problem before they even know they have it.
Before you map your customer’s journey, you first need to understand who they are and what their journey and problems are. I recommend reading my guide Understanding Customers Needs, Journeys, and Problems to Identify Opportunities so you can understand more about this process.
In the previous guide, I discussed the customer’s personal journey as either an end-user consumer or a business customer as part of a B2B relationship. However, in this guide we are going to discuss the customer journey with you—that is, how they journey through their relationship with you as the seller. Thinking of it as a partnership, especially in B2B transactions, will help you develop a relationship instead of making it more transactional.
Identifying a customer journey is also called journey mapping, and it lays out their experience with you at every touchpoint with the company. It tells the story of the customer experience with you.
Now let’s map out the parts of a customer journey:
Brand awareness: This starts when your product first becomes visible to the customers. What do they see and know about your company and product ?
Consideration or nurturing: This is what we call ‘lead nurturing’. The customer is past awareness and is now in contact with your company in some way. It is your job to nurture and keep in contact without being overly annoying.
Purchase: When the customer buys the product or solution. What is this experience like? Is it easy for them to purchase? Do they get the product quickly?
Service: After the purchase, what is the experience like? Is there a warranty? Do you have to service or install something physical?
That is the basic customer journey mapping process. Now we'll move more into how you can improve and make the process simple and trackable.
Based on what you figure out about the customer journey, you need to use your innovation skills. When we think of innovation as a product manager, we often think about innovating new products and things that are external and tangible. However, innovation can be done by many departments and can sometimes include internal changes that help you transform and improve a customer journey.
There are simple ideas that aren’t external that are huge for innovation. For example, changing internal processes like reach customers a different way that is more efficient and less expensive, or acquiring a new financial accounting system that cuts processing time. We often call these internal innovations "out-of-the box" ideas, but they are just as important as customer0facing innovations because often they make all the difference in selling a product and ensuring your customer has a positive journey with you.
Out-of-the-box ideas could come in many forms and from many different organizations, such as marketing, product management, engineering, sales, finance, etc. They are often a break from what an organization would normally do and can prove to be successful in helping the company grow and finding better, more innovative ways of doing things.
I recommend you watch my Executive Briefing on Innovation (app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/innovation-importance-executive-briefing} to help you better understand how innovation can help you map and predict a customer journey.
A customer relationship management tool, or CRM, is the tool you use to manage your customer’s journey. It is key to pick the right tool in order to ensure the best customer journey.
Here are some things the CRM tools allow you to do:
Track customer interactions
Keep in touch with customers through personalized or mass emails, for example, about promotions, sales, or discounts
Sell more products and solutions
Improve communication between various stakeholders internally
Find new customers
Here are some things you should consider when picking the correct CRM tool for you:
Features and functionality
Hosted in the cloud vs. on premise, aka, software vs. hardware
Integration with other applications or ability to migrate if you have an existing system
Industry-specific functionality that might be needed
There are various CRM tools. Some of the options include:
There are many CRM tools, and you need to find one that works for you and meets your needs and budget. That will allow you to properly track all the pieces of a customer journey and figure out where there is potential room for improvement.
The bottom line is that when it comes to customer journeys, having a CRM system is non-negotiable.
As you can see, understanding and mapping a journey is key to your customer’s success and in turn is key to your own success because your customer will be purchasing from you. There is something to be said about creating the best journey and experience for your customers.
You can have the best products, but if you are not creating a great experience, the customer that you spent money to acquire will not continue to purchase from you. There are many different departments along the customer journey path, and ensuring that all of them are doing their jobs (and are kind) will ensure the best experience.