Five Stages of Customer Journey- The Customer Experience Era

Many issues ago in the Bali Advertiser, I wrote about the tsunami of change sweeping through all sorts of businesses as the full implications of the digital age came among us. The article was called Digital Disruption and you can read it again in the Bali Advertiser Articles archives.


The Customer Experience Era


So massive has been the change in power to the consumer. Basically, a whole range of new terminology and approaches have surfaced. In last few years to help business understand and endeavor to take back the initiative. A range of new terms has evolved to help describe the focus on the customer. You have read my articles describing some of these: customer experience, the customer journey, co-created value, social media marketing, touch points, service design, brand promise and brand delivery.


Customer experience is about each and every one of the interactions a customer has with your business, with you, your staff, your products and your service.  The customer has only one real interest in your business and that is how well you can solve her problem, meet her needs. If your brand promise is sufficiently interesting she may continue the journey to see how well you deliver. If she is satisfied then she may return for more.


We call this the customer journey and it has five distinct phases.


  1. Awareness

    the customer being aware of you in the context of her need. The subsets of Awareness are search and discovery. As the business person, this is where you make yourself known, about how well you can help solve problems and co-create value in your market niche.

  2. Evaluation-

    where your customer will research, compare and decide on the lucky business.


The first two phases comprise much of your business brand promise. The next three phases are about brand delivery.


  1. Purchase-

    where the customer may register (a website or at the gym), buy and go through post-purchase anxiety.

  2. Delivery-

    for the purpose of the product or service and its use in context. This is where the value is co-created by you and your customer and where the customer decides if she has solved her problem.  Subsets of this phase to consider are used, getting help, share and personalize.

  3. After Sales-

    the subsets are trust, evangelize and friendship.


These five stages of the customer journey haven’t changed; what has changed is how the customer experiences this journey. Imagine the female of the Bird of Paradise species becoming aware of a need to mate. In her search for the best mate/serial, she no longer needs to fly all over the forest or listen for male advertising cheeps in her immediate neighborhood.


Now she can get on the internet and easily find all the available suitors. She can check out their blogs that help her decide how good a bower. She is going to share and gain a feeling of what sort of co-creator this male is likely to be. She can engage with her social media channels. So that she can check what other hens have to say from their own past user experience or their own inspections.


Is this the one who can give her an outstanding touchpoint experience?


No more needing to kiss a hundred frogs to find her one true prince. No need to physically confront them all and watch their fear of rejection as they go about their dancing and preening for her. No more restriction to the local gene pool.  Instead, she has available a choice from all over the forest and can afford the energy to travel for the best. And once she has made her choice and bought the deal, she can spread the results of her experience throughout the forest.  She will refer this hunk to all her friends. Next season’s search will reveal the best in brand Delivery and they will be invaded by new customers. But Promises that didn’t deliver, these will forever after be met with a scornful “oh, him!”  No wonder some businesses are now terrified!


The losers are the ones who haven’t properly defined their brand promise (is this guy my path to paradise or a sparrow?) or whose brand promise doesn’t reflect what they actually deliver. These are the businesses that are reckless in their promises and who don’t pay attention to all the touchpoints along the customer journey. They will be found out, wither and die.


The winners are the ones who recognize that this digital age is as much a wonderful opportunity as a threat. They have recognized the benefits of social media: the combination of a targeted niche broadcast as well as an opportunity to engage on a personal level. They have adapted and survived just as Darwin and Wallace had predicted some will.


Importance of Social Media:


Social media is hugely important for one key reason, the recognition that customers are far more likely to believe what their friends tell them about you than whatever you might say. And that is why you need to engage on social media, your campaigns are about driving word-of-mouth to spread the message more effectively and far more cheaply than with other advertising channels.


Let’s go back to the Awareness phase of the journey, part of the brand promise. The old model was a monologue, a one-way conversation; it was the business telling the customer, “I know what’s best to meet your need.”  But social media marketing is a dialogue and if you are going to run a campaign on social media then it needs to be a dialogue. Sales pitches don’t cut it. Messages must become conversations, target audiences are communities of people who are interested in the market niche you are selling to and who talk with each other. You must engage personally with these people. People, not hashtags. People do something with your brand because they are in love. It’s an emotional experience.


Your key goal of social media campaigns is to generate positive word of mouth referrals. You build respect and trust by providing useful information or feedback, and then let word of mouth take over to create the buzz that drives referrals, sales, and increased market share. Sales pitches and marketing campaigns are inappropriate.


Social Media Campaigning is not Easy!


Because it is a dialogue it’s not something you can fully plan for; it won’t always go the way you want or expect it to. But if your brand delivery is solid then you are well on the way for positive results. We need to discuss this subject a lot more, don’t we?


Is there is any aspect of developing a successful business you would like me to write about?


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