McKinsey & Company noted the change in 2009. The customer journey is no longer a funnel, it's a circle.
The traditonal purchase funnel of: awarness, familiarity, consideration, purchase and loyalty has been made obsolete by the internet and social media.
In today's digitally driven marketplace, the customer journey is more like a circle with four phases: initial consideration, active evaluation, closure and post-purchase.
In order to provide customers and prospects with information of value, you need to know where they are in the journey and what information they want at that particular point in the journey.
Begin mapping the customer journey by understanding all of the places your customers go for information before they ever interact with you -- search engines, social media, reviews, other online channels.
Understand what information the customer is trying to get at each touchpoint and strive to provide some information of value at that touchpoint.
The more information of value you provide, the more awareness and trust you build with your prospective customer.
Engage with customers during the pre-shopping, decision-making process. Do what you can to simplify their life, save them time and make a confident, well-informed decision.
When mapping the customer journey, make sure you are able to indentify barriers to the purchase process.
If you're able to remove the barriers, you've just simplified the buying journey, and the customer's life.
I buy running shoes from an online retailer. I'm also a "VIP" so I can get discounts and free shipping. However, this site is unable to recognize my VIP membership so I always end up having to call them to order what I want. A major barrier.
So far, they've overcome the barrier by being available by telephone; however, at some point, I'll just buy from Zappos since they are the masters of providing an outstanding customer experience.
Don't forget to follow-up after the sale to ensure your customer is happy with their purchase and that your product or service is solving the problem your customer purchased it to solve.
This follow-up is critical to ensuring satisfaction, building loyalty, obtaining feedback and referrals -- online and in person.
Don't assume you know the customer journey. Once you've mapped it, share your perceived customer journey with a few of your best customers and get their insights on what they really do and where they experience barriers in the process.
What have you learned by mapping the customer journey?