The history of customer journey mapping is deep and diverse, though it hasn’t always had the same name. Executives at large enterprises like Nordstrom recognized early that understanding customers is important to the success of a business. That’s why they developed their famously lenient return policy. By looking at customer needs and how they engage with your company, you gain insight into the experience and what they expect out of it.
Make Your Customer Journey Adaptable
From the very first interaction to the ultimate end goal of consumer loyalty, businesses that deeply understand their customer’s journey also know how to effectively market themselves at each point along the way. With big data becoming a trend among businesses, many are looking to leverage the power of information to communicate with customers more effectively. But that can be a difficult thing to do. As your customer base grows and changes, so must your customer journey mapping.
Mapping a Customer’s Journey
Simply stated, a customer journey is how the user moves through the sales funnel, from initial engagement to final purchase. Regardless of the medium through which customers buy—be it online or in-store—they travel through a series of interactions called touch points. Each of these is a critical area businesses can optimize to move the process along.
Across these touch points, customers are influenced by different motivators. Either they’re becoming aware of your business, learning more about it, bonding with your brand, or, in a perfect world, buying from you. Let’s take a look at an example of a customer journey map:
- The initial interaction begins with awareness. This happens through advertising, whether physical, online, or some other means.
- The second stage is discovery—when customers are researching your brand. They do this through publications like white papers and articles, product descriptions, FAQ pages, and anything that lets them delve deeper.
- The third stage is critical to conversion rates. It’s here that customers will decide if your brand is right for them. This is achieved through customer tutorials and reviews. It’s also here that common barriers often arise that block customers from making a purchase. If your business can help them overcome those obstacles, it’ll strengthen the bond and may lead to a purchase.
- Finally, customers make the purchase—either online or in person at a store. The journey doesn’t end here, though—continued interaction builds a relationship and inspires the customer to start the journey and buy again. Likewise, a good relationship with your audience will have a positive effect on word of mouth marketing.
Through each of these stages, big data can be used to deliver tangible, helpful information. The goal of customer journey mapping is to use this data to pinpoint and improve areas for a potentially negative experience. By understanding the customer’s journey and any barriers in front of them, you can offer solutions and increase customer retention rates. That being said, I believe using big data to gather information about users isn’t a one and done thing.
Offering Customer Journey Mapping as a Service
Looking at the journey above, you can see how the map can vary widely among customer types and how quickly an individual customer’s journey can change. This opens up huge potential for managed service providers (MSPs). I’ve written before about how the digital age has made it possible to offer almost anything as a service. Now, digital technology and big data are an industry of their own. Thus, most business owners lack the time to learn data analytics and how to implement them. They’re focused on how to obtain and retain more customers instead of what goes on behind the digital curtain.
Journey Mapping Isn’t a One-Time Thing
MSPs already offer a plethora of enterprise services, like hosting, networking, server monitoring, and network administration. This is valuable to enterprise-sized businesses with giant servers and endless streams of data coming in. Likewise, many MSPs already offer customer analytics through CRM platforms, so why not take it a step further? In my opinion, big data offers MSPs a massive opportunity.
They can harness the data to create an initial customer journey map and offer ongoing service. As changes occur within the customer journey, they can track, monitor, and advise companies to help optimize their maps—thus improving their service. The trick is showing businesses that big data and customer journey mapping are an ongoing, evolving concept, not just something to do once and file away.
So, yes, I think MSPs are sitting on a potential gold mine here. By leveraging the power of analytics and big data, businesses can understand their customers at each step along their journey, drastically increasing consumer loyalty. MSPs hold the power to implement and monitor that technology, and therefore the power to help businesses gain a significant customer base—and significant ROI.
This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s PivotPoint. Dedicated to providing valuable insight from industry thought leaders, PivotPoint offers expertise to help you develop, differentiate and scale your business.