What is a customer journey? Why is it important? How can your company utilize it? All of these questions are important to ask when developing a customer driven marketing campaign for your company or small business. A “customer journey” is a marketing campaign used to create better experiences for your target market through the business cycle. The customer journey aligns with the development of the business lifecycle and are broken up into several stages along the way to provide a positive, efficient, and most important, a profitable customer experience.

Through various studies, polls, and observations, the current customer journey approach has created a model for how businesses interact with their audiences, and how they go about targeting/creating their marketing campaigns. Originally stemming from feedback provided by call centers, the customer journey has created a platform to for businesses to understand their target market through data and analytics.  However, if this data is improperly utilized, or is not projected full-circle within a company, the customer journey turns into more of a customer dead-end.

image2222Research has proven that a majority of businesses around the world have put a major emphasis in the customer journey, and have a great deal of time and resources into improving it. While the customer journey differs from business to business, there is one main goal shared among all: to provide a positive customer interaction between company and customer from start to finish and drive future business between the two parties. This goal may seem simple enough at first, but studies have shown that more than half of businesses struggle with properly implementing and using the data they have collected to their advantage. Why are many businesses struggling with putting the customer journey to good use? The three largest issues that these businesses are facing include skills/communication within the workplace, outdated or poor technology on the backend, and improper data integration.

The customer journey can be tracked between four stages beginning at the “buy” stage, followed by use, ask, and concluding with retention. Following this forward, if a company has poor IT skills or poor communication skills across the business to properly track the customer experience through all four stages of the customer lifestyle, a business will lose out on key information of crucial data about their customers. The technology also plays a crucial role in the following the customer journey along its path. If a company does not invest into specific technology, their data will not be properly used as well and the customer journey could be effected negatively in the process. Probably the most crucial reasoning for companies failing with the customer journey is improper data integrations. A lot of companies would find that they are collecting large amounts of data on their customers but they either do not know what to do with it, or are improperly implanting this data. The data collected on specific markets and customers during the customer journey needs to be tracked, separated, and strategically applied to create a positive outcome of the customer journey.

“To keep a customer demands as much skill as to win one.”

-American Proverb

What needs to be involved to make the customer journey more powerful and profitable for a company can be noted by a few ways. Customers are empowered, and businesses need to deliver what is useful for them. Therefore, businesses need to adapt their business strategy to help target and produce higher results from their customers. To improve the overall customer journey, customers need to be held front and center by the business, and the business needs to apply a more analytical driven strategy on day-to-day operations across the business. There needs to be a collaborative effort from all sides for proper communication of the customer journey, along with effective analytical strategies. As we all know, technology is important, and therefore technology needs to play a crucial role in the customer experience. Businesses need to invest more budgets into the technology and resources for their customer journey. Having a larger team and a higher budget devoted to the success of driving the customer through a positive business experience will create more lifelong customers, greater customer feedback, and more potential to increase your market. Lastly, to make a positive customer journey full circle for both client and company, there needs to be more emphasis on a strategic customer journey campaign. Department heads should routinely have meetings to discuss their market, go over objectives, and outline how they are going to use their collected data effectively to drive their market.

img33 While a customer journey can be challenging at times, understanding the proper procedures to apply a positive customer journey can lead to a thriving business with many satisfied lifelong customers. A large amount of businesses take great strides to improve their customer journey but slip up in influential stages along the way. Whether it be within the skills/communication in a workplace, lack of proper technology, or improper utilization of data, businesses are struggling to recognize the key components of the customer journey. For a company to be a leader in their industry and provide a positive customer journey there needs to be an emphasis on each and every piece of a customer experience from start to finish. With applying a more customer-focused approach, maintaining a strong skill set and communication across the company, providing larger emphasis and efforts in technology to track/utilize data, and most importantly generating/following a more strategic marketing plan, a customer journey can be reached and maximized to keep a customer on track for many years to come.