Less than 10 years ago, 67% of the buyer’s journey was digital. In 2020, that number climbed to 80%. Nearly all B2B customers start their buyer’s journey with a search, and they will research up to seven different sites before committing to a purchase.
Annette Franz, founder and CEO of CX Journey, doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. “These days the path to a purchase involves websites, mobile apps, undertaking more research and reading more reviews than ever before,” Franz says.
Franz, author of Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of the Business), will be presenting with Imarc, a leading digital agency on an upcoming webinar focusing on the importance of a seamless customer journey and how businesses can improve the customer experience. We caught up with Franz to discuss these topics and more.
The Customer Experience Needs to be Easy and Seamless
Running parallel to a seamless customer journey, there are areas such as customer service, IT helpdesk and sales, where the customer experience is a primary differentiator that will make or break a customer’s relationship with a company. Further, 81% of organizations say that CX gives them a competitive edge. Making the journey as easy as possible will set businesses apart, especially these days where a majority of B2B buyers say the journey is getting longer. “People these days don’t have time and really just want the purchase to happen,” Franz says.
Walk a Mile In Your Customers’ Shoes With Journey Mapping
Journey mapping — visualizations of the touchpoints that make up your customer experience — is a powerful tool for identifying strengths and customer pain points in your CX. Sales are more likely to happen when you can see at a glance where your customers are in their journey and deliver the right messaging for that stage. “Using a tool like journey mapping is the best way to learn who your customers are and understand their pain points,” Franz says. “Using a process that includes what your customers are doing on your site, where you’d like them to be and what it would take to get them there gives you better insight into what your customers are thinking and feeling. When you understand your customers, you can design better experiences for them.”
Journey mapping shouldn’t be done in a vacuum, but as part of a larger CX strategy, that includes different ways to gain insights into customer behavior. “Analytics, data collection and personas are all ways to gain insights into what your customers do and are likely to do,” says Franz. “Once you understand customer expectations you can design experiences that meet those expectations.” Personas are one of the key ways to increase the effectiveness of your website for users; their use is a critical strategy for improving the customer journey.
Some businesses don’t take the time to understand their customers and prospects and their needs. A successful customer journey is crafted when the seller can anticipate the users’ needs, provide relevant information to support the sales process, and ultimately convert prospects to customers.
You Won’t Get Anywhere Without Leadership Commitment
By design, leaders have their eyes on so many aspects of the business — this is what makes them leaders. But customer experience needs to be elevated from your CX teams and become the responsibility of everyone on your leadership team. “If you have a siloed organization, where the leader of only one department is doing all the heavy lifting to improve the customer experience without the help of other teams or leaders, your potential customers are going to feel that,” says Franz. “It’s absolutely critical that you have commitment and alignment with everyone on your leadership team. One of the biggest challenges many organizations face is a lack of understanding of customer experience at the leadership level. Your leaders need to recognize that customers are the reason your organization exists.”
The value and importance of a well-executed customer journey on the overall customer experience cannot be overstated. With so much of the customer journey happening digitally, organizations can’t afford to ignore their customers in the spaces they are in.
Looking ahead, the customer journey of the future won’t be that much different than it was during the pandemic. “We’ve accelerated digital transformation, and many of the digital habits customers picked up over the past two years are here to stay,” Franz says. “What businesses need to do is understand and truly know their customers. With the right customer journey plan, they’ll understand their customers well and reap the benefits of doing so.”
Be sure to register for the webinar here.
Imarc is a full-service digital agency with a strong focus on web, mobile and custom application solutions. Since 1997, Imarc’s team of 70+ experienced engineers, UX engineers, designers, writers, strategists, and business and marketing experts has been helping more than 300 clients do business better.
Tim is the senior manager of research and content for Simpler Media Group. In his role he writes content, market guides and data-driven research reports for all of SMG’s internal and external clients.