Improving your customer journey

By Anita Jaynes on 8 December, 2020

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Marketing specialist, Maggie Robinson, Director of Smart Thinking Consultancy, discusses the importance of refining your customer journey.

The customer journey is the term used to describe the process your customers take from thinking about buying something to actually committing and paying for the product or service. With lockdown causing a massive shift in our buying habits, sorting out your online customer journey could mean you and your customers could have a merry Christmas and an even happier New Year.

While it seems obvious, it’s a step many businesses overlook. There’s so much to sort out from the merchant’s side of things, that it’s easy to forget to take the time to check how things look from the other side. Of course, it’s important to make sure you can process orders efficiently and check stock levels, for example, but if it’s awkward for a customer to navigate, you may well lose the sale. There’s so much competition out there, it could be easier to leave your website and go elsewhere rather than battle through your system.

If you understand your customer journey fully, you’ll spot these pitfalls and will be able to smooth the path for your customers, making life easier for them and increasing the chance of sales for you.

See things from your customers’ perspective

The best way to understand your customer journey is by putting yourself in their shoes. Who is your ideal customer? How are they likely to find your website? Will they be scrolling on their phone or sat at their computer? These are just some of the things you should take into consideration.

However, before they even think to visit your website, there are other factors to consider. Is your product or service a one-off, or is it a regular purchase? Is it an essential or are they looking for a treat? Is it for themselves or others? Whatever the trigger for thinking about a purchase is, you need to put yourself in the right place.

Website SEO is one way to achieve this – if your website is full of relevant, interesting information and keywords, its more likely that your site will be presented to your ideal customer in response to their search. You need to make sure you’re the most obvious answer to their problem.

Caught in your web(site)

Once your customer has found your website, it’s time to encourage them towards making that purchase. With the wealth of information available online, it’s easier than ever to compare prices and product specifications, and jump to other websites.

It’s estimated that 60-80% of online purchases are abandoned at checkout, so making your information clear and concise, and creating a quick and easy checkout process reduces the chance of you becoming one of the statistics.

Lots of businesses have had to make a rapid change to having a larger focus online, as physical shops have had to adhere to ever-changing restrictions, and while a quick response was important, a clear response is equally critical. Those businesses who have kept their customers informed and made their processes simple (from the customer perspective, at least) seem to be the ones doing better.

Life is full of complications right now, those businesses who have made the effort to make things easier for their customers are the ones who will reap the rewards. If buying from you causes more ‘problems’, your customers will find a different solution.

Finding the common pitfalls in the customer journey

There are so many aspects of the customer journey, it’s impossible to identify every single problem you may come across. However, the way your customers behave can give a good indication of what might be going wrong. If you’re getting website hits but no sales, are you being competitive? Or is it absolutely clear what you’re offering your customers?

If customers are abandoning at checkout, are your postage charges too high? Are you asking for too much information from them?

Of course, all of your customers are individuals, so you can never predict exactly how they’ll behave, but taking a typical customer and going through their journey may help. For example, a company selling women’s clothes could have a number of different customer personas. A woman looking for clothes for work may come to your site because they need workwear, but there are lots of other factors which will come into play, such as price, quality, fit, etc. These details need to be clear to customers so they can be sure that your product is what they’re looking for.

Sizing can be an issue with women’s clothes, with different systems in place in the UK, Europe and the US. If you’re looking to sell internationally but only show sizes using one of these conventions, your customers may not want to spend the time doing the conversions themselves, and so you’ll lose the sale.

Take the customer journey step-by-step. The ‘marketing funnel’ is the traditional way of defining this process, with customers moving from awareness to interest, through to desire and then action.

However, our interconnected world has changed this from a funnel to more of a web, with lots of interaction which could cause a change in direction. Things like social media recommendations, influences, website visits and in-person visits can all have an impact on our final buying decision. 

Refining the information

It can feel overwhelming once you start to take all of these factors into account, but it’s worth spending the time thinking about all of the points along your customers’ journeys, and how you can make sure you’re there at the right time and with the right product,

A marketing expert will be able to help you make sense of your customer journey, and help you resolve those sticking points which might be blocking sales.

If you need help or support with your customer journey get in touch by emailing Maggie@SmartThinkingConsultancy.co.uk or visit www.SmartThinkingConsultancy.co.uk