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Regardless of your business venture, your customer journey is the most important thing you need to invest in. There is no simple or easy way to fully understand your customers’ journey, which is why many businesses neglect to consider and improve it. However, it is vital if you want to gain loyalty from your customers, increase retention rates and see your business thrive.

The customer journey has to be understood and considered from the beginning, all the way through to the end. It is a process of looking through the eyes of your customers to understand how, when, and why they come into contact with your brand, make a purchase, and how your business can assess, evaluate and use it effectively. 

The path from awareness to purchase is by no means a linear one, which is why mapping and enhancing the customer journey can take time, testing, and experimentation. With technology advancing and evolving rapidly in the 21st century, the way in which consumers browse and shop is also quickly adapting, which means there is always going to be work to do to keep up, compete with others and enhance their experience. 

Mapping your customer journey is important as it enables you to use your resources efficiently because you will gain a better understanding of your customers and what makes them tick. This, in turn, helps to convert more leads into sales and repeat customers. 

Here are 3 steps to help you create an effective customer experience strategy for your business.

 #1 Create a buyer persona 

The first and most important step is to create a buyer persona. This allows you to understand all the necessary details about your ideal customer, how they behave, what they like and don’t like, and why they do what they do so that all marketing and branding efforts can be targeted towards them and solving their problems. The more specific the buyer persona, the better.

A buyer persona normally details the gender, age, location, occupation, income, hobbies, and more. You can extend this activity further by creating different buyer personas for customers at different stages in their journey with you, for example, customers who have not heard of you and are not aware they have a particular problem that needs solving, and customers who have done their research and are ready to purchase. This is because they will all need different things at different stages of their journey. 

#2 Identify contact points with your brand

Contact points, also known as touchpoints, are the times that your customers can come into contact with your brand. With search engines and social media platforms, there are many different ways customers can come into contact with you, before, during, and after a purchase. There are both positives and negatives to this. More platforms mean more opportunities, but it also means a lot of work. That is where your buyer persona comes in, so you can understand where your customers spend their time online, so you can ensure that you are present in the right places to increase the number of contact points.

It is also important to consider the offline contact points too, if relevant to your business, that may happen in person or over the phone. You can also survey and speak to your customers to learn more about their journey and contact points with your business, as well as use tools such as Google Analytics which can show you how your customers behave online and interact with your website. 

It is important to understand which contact points you have if they serve the right information to customers at the right time in their journey, and the impact that they have. Mapping and testing them will determine if there are any problems, so you can quickly make improvements as well as open yourself up to new opportunities. 

#3 Test, update and improve 

Regardless of how long your business has been running, it is always important to regularly test, update and improve the customer journey. The world, and in particular technology, is evolving at a rapid rate, which means there are always going to be improvements that can be made, changes in the industry as well as an increasing number of competitors. From your buyer personas, contact points to the user experience, they should continue to be reviewed and developed at least every 6 months. 

Customer experience testing aims to test the usability of software, applications, and websites to determine everything your customer will see, hear and touch on their journey related to your brand. A lot of work must go into the user experience if you want to build loyalty, convert leads and increase your retention rate. Over 83.4% of businesses have a website and a large majority of the population shop and use applications online, which has, in turn, increased the demand for functional and fast experiences, which means you have a lot to compete with. The performance of a website or application has been said to play a large role in the success of any online business.

Technology today has made it much easier to test and improve your user experience. Previously, the only way to do this was to conduct in-person conversations, either one-to-one or in focus groups, which can be extremely costly, time-consuming, and difficult to organize. There are many different ways you can test your user experience, from Google’s A/B testing Resource Hub which uses two or more versions of your website or application with modified elements to see how they perform and covert, to using a card sorting tool that provide more detailed feedback on the navigational structure and layout of your website or software which asks users to organize virtual notecards into groups. 

Understanding and enhancing the journey your customers go through is an important investment for any business, which can make huge returns if done correctly. People are complex, and the online business world is rife. You need to be able to capture your customers’ attention and take them on a world-class journey if you want to stand out from the noise and grow your business.

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