Having a successful, thriving business is ultimately about the customer experience. This is the true area where businesses compete with each other to attract, secure, and nurture customers, foster expansion, and boost profits. The key to delivering an excellent customer experience lies in your approach to Sales Strategy, the essence of which is to engage, cultivate, close, and convert customers into champions. With our strategic and methodical approach, together, we will make it happen.
Sales strategy begins by bringing together the key managers, team members, and stakeholders in your Customer Journey. To create an accurate customer journey map, we must include people from all over the business. Team members from different areas of the organization will be more familiar with unique aspects of the journey, how they work, and how customers experience them.
We need input from enough sources so we can detect patterns. These patterns will guide our understanding of where customers are enjoying the least amount of friction in the journey – and suffering through the most. Our goal is to understand each step from the customer’s point of view, starting with the process before your company even enters their mind.
We will ask questions that help elicit responses providing a complete view of the customer journey. We need to understand your internal process and employee perspective as they relate to the customer journey. The only way to fully capture the true customer experience is to document it from every angle. Having a 360-degree view will play a major role in identifying opportunities to improve the Customer Journey experience.
The team you assemble for the Sales Strategy program should include the key managers, team members, and stakeholders in your sales process. From a departmental perspective, this will include sales, marketing, management, and operations. These are the core groups that will attend every training module and be the change agents within your business.
With their boots on the ground, all members of the sales team should participate in the training. This includes sales management, support roles, and customer service. If it is not feasible to include the entire sales team, you may instead select individuals who are representative of the group as a whole, running the gamut of product and service experience, tenure, and volume.
Your highest marketing role with the organization, or their chosen representative, should participate in all training modules. Depending upon your business model, you may want to include several marketing team members. And certainly, a wider segment of the marketing department should be engaged in the Customer Journey.
The marketing team has constant indirect and behind-the-scenes involvement in the customer journey. Steps like creating lead magnets, managing social channels, and implementing email outreach campaigns barely scratch the surface of the marketing touchpoints in the customer journey. They will also be heavily engaged, as they are now, in supporting the sales team in your evolving sales strategy.
Your management/leadership team will want to be present during all modules to drive the actions and steps required to achieve your strategic objectives. The Sales Strategy program is built to grow your sales, and therefore your business. While it may not be viable for your full management/leadership team to attend, choose the individual who will be the driving force for the program.
Getting the customer journey mapping right is crucial for your business outlook. While in the past, businesses competed on products, price, and delivery, today a core competitive edge is with the experience you give your customer. Customers have a different relationship with the businesses they buy from. Due to the increasingly global nature of business, B2B customers no longer have to choose from a select few local or national businesses. They have the power to choose from a whole world of suppliers.
Your operations team and management must be included in the Sales Strategy training. To capture the entire Customer Journey, this first training module should include operations team members from manufacturing and production, shipping and logistics, and support services. People from different areas of the business bring fresh insights to the customer touchpoints, how they work, and what the customer experiences at these junctures. An example could be your customer service team who may interact with customers daily, hear their frustrations, and see areas of friction.
Finally, customer interaction representatives from the administrative, IT, HR, finance, security, and supply chain departments should participate in this first training module. Accurately mapping your Customer Journey relies on input from every customer touchpoint, from accounts payable to the security requirements for a customer plant tour.
When bringing your team of change agents together, we will identify and define roles, responsibilities, timelines, and milestones. We will focus on the internal readiness and acceptance of the Sales Strategy program. This will include appraising the team member involvement, motivations, and related program workload. This will ensure full alignment within the organization to reach your goals.
The following roles will be defined at this stage of the training to carry us through the entirety of the program: Program Lead Manager, Key Managers, Team Members, and Stakeholders.
The company will identify and engage a key manager to lead the internal team of key managers, team members, and stakeholders who will be actively engaged in all workshops. This individual will be referred to as the Program Lead Manager.
The Key Managers represented will include, but not be limited to, the leadership, sales, and marketing branches of the organization. And the Team Members will comprise of the sales department, along with a pick of marketing staff. Depending upon your business model, you may choose additional departments to have individuals in the role of Team Members.
Key stakeholders to be involved in the Sales Strategy program should include areas who serve the customer. This may include a representative from your customer service call center, accounts payable unit, IT division, and product manufacturing. These individuals will participate in many of the training sessions, but not all.
Once your team of change agents is assembled, we will clarify and define their functional roles and responsibilities in regards to the Sales Strategy program. This will include the time requirements, tasks, and expectations outside and between the training sessions. Our goal is to provide the direction and facilitate positive engagement for the program team to thrive.
Bringing your team of change agents together is an important step to help them work together effectively. By setting context for what the overall team is responsible for, we can effectively clarify individual responsibilities and find gaps that need to be filled. From there, we will then discuss specific tasks, review ideas, establish dates, and prioritize.
To meet their responsibilities, your team of change agents requires a growth mindset. A growth mindset is where individuals believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Your team needs to embrace a love of learning and pushing their boundaries. A growth mindset encourages curiosity to ask why, pursue alternate viewpoints, and a resilience to move through challenges.
In addition to all team members attending and actively engaging in every workshop, they will meet between training sessions to further develop concepts acquired, complete assigned exercises, and seek opportunities to grow. It is vital to be actively listening to their counterparts in different silos to gain a high level of understanding of the customer experience across the business.
Timelines are extremely important throughout the Sales Strategy program. They help the team visualize and synchronize tasks, set deadlines, and define potential delays. Clearly communicating expectations and schedule requirements will foster effective team building. Furthermore, we want, need, and deserve the full engagement of every team member.
Milestones are powerful components in this program because they showcase key stages, highlight accomplishments, and map the forward movement in your Sales Strategy. A milestone is a marker in the Sales Strategy program that signifies a change or stage in development. Milestones act as signposts through the course of your program, helping ensure your team members stay on track.
With careful planning, we will gain improved collaboration between and among the team members and departments, while reducing the possibilities of misunderstandings and disputes, especially between silos. By communicating their responsibilities and accountability to the Sales Strategy program team, we produce stronger teamwork, leading to higher productivity and better results.
To truly develop a highly effective team, a key component in the process is team building. An important area to start with in the development of team building is communication, which was discussed above.
Effective communication is the most straightforward, surefire way of creating a strong team. To have trust in your coworkers, a great deal of the initial foundation is built on the ability to communicate. When another team member can clearly express their expectations or needs to another member, then effective work can be done, but, perhaps most importantly, those team members have an understanding of their expectations. All team members in this program must consider what their colleagues need to know to be successful. Oftentimes, conflict within a team is rooted in the fact that there has been miscommunication about an important task or requirement. By clearly communicating a rubric for the work, teams can ensure they are on the same page.
Once this initial cornerstone of team building has been placed, more precise support systems can be developed. A group not only needs to have good communication—the best groups also have a deep understanding of everyone’s areas of expertise. Teams work more effectively when they take into account that, even if a task is assigned to one person, another group member may still make meaningful contributions if the task relates to their expertise. Members should therefore be encouraged to seek feedback and input from relevant team members.
A final building block to discuss in a strong team is respect. This goes beyond the basic respect expected not just in the workplace, but in every area of life. Recognize and respect that other team members are people, and that everyone will make mistakes. Make sure to keep in mind others’ successes even against their failures. In most teams, there will be an ebb and flow of intense work, and it is important that everyone keeps respect at the forefront of their thoughts in a stressful work period.
And, if there ever is a team member who you feel is not completing their tasks, it is a disservice to ignore them. If such a problem is ignored, then the issue will never be resolved. For whomever it is appropriate to do so, honestly address any problem with the other team member. Take care to understand why they are struggling. Would this team member be better off in another area of the project? Or do they simply need a weekly check-in if they have questions about their work? Additionally, a team member perceived to not be pulling their own weight may not realize they have a slow work output. If they are made aware of the problem, then they have the opportunity to work to improve it.
Now that our team is assembled and has clarity, we will begin mapping where we are: what your Customer Journey looks like from the customer’s perspective. We perform a deep dive into your current processes, systems, interrelated activities, and sales journey. This allows us to fully understand your starting point, processes that are working well, and the processes that need the most attention for full improvement. Utilizing the proven assessment tools and exercises we have developed, we formulate and assess your current situation. We keep asking questions to gain a clear understanding of your critical business requirements.
Ultimately, we are creating the process to build a customer journey map that will deliver clarity to your business. It will enable us to see where the focus may need to be shifted, highlight much needed improvements, and identify areas that require tweaks and refinements. It delivers transparency across the organization, fostering a unified purpose, and supporting enhanced collaboration between silos.
Throughout the planning stage, we are laying the groundwork to build a coherent sales strategy to achieve your desired outcome. When we have successfully opened your paradigm, we are able to focus individual minds and energy in the right areas. This becomes our guiding principle to reinforce and support your sales program evolution.
The definition of Customer Journey is: the complete sum of experiences your customers go through when interacting with your company. Instead of looking at just a part of a sale or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.
Customer Journey maps are a visual representation of your customer’s course with and through your business. They are a powerful tool and reference element when making business decisions. For your organization to thrive, all decisions must keep the customer journey in the forefront to enhance and strengthen the customer experience.
Customer Journey mapping encompasses visualizing the customer’s journey and experiences as a means to create actionable goals. It is imperative to place yourself in the mind of the customer. See and experience your business through their prism. Because, from inside your business, it can be difficult to understand the customers experience in the same way as they do from the outside. Throughout the Customer Journey mapping process we will be asking “why” to capture the customers viewpoint.
To effectively map your Customer Journey, we need to think like your customers. This includes understanding how they behave, what they want, how it will benefit them, and what it will enable them to do. This is an important part of mapping the customer experience which delivers significant benefits for your business.
Mapping your customer journey provides the means to make immediate refinements, eliminate redundant or unnecessary steps, tighten gaps, reduce costs, and implement improvements which delight customers. In addition, with the clarity your map provides, you have exceptional insights to planning the how, when, and where to market new products and services.
The process of mapping your customer journey demands a clear methodology to identify touchpoints, pinpoint areas of friction, classify customer “why”, look for gaps, reveal pain points, and areas of excellence. We will go through each of these facets to ensure they are incorporated into your strategic planning.
Touchpoints are where customers interact with your company, product, service, and team members. In other words, anywhere they come in contact with your organization – before, during, or after they purchase from you. Common touchpoints are planned by your company, initiated by your customer, inherent within your product or service, and some are unexpected.
There are a myriad of possible areas of friction. Examples of friction include: places where expectations are not being met, unnecessary interactions, overly complex pathways, or lapses in timely communication. This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg and illustrates how vital these risks are uncovered during our Customer Journey mapping process.
While we will go in depth into the “Client Why” in module 3, classifying what your customer is experiencing is crucial in the Customer Journey mapping process. Examining specific behaviors, motivations, emotions, and common patterns helps us humanize the customer and make the Customer Journey mapping process more real.
There are areas of improvement in every organization. Our Customer Journey mapping reveals where gaps may exist in the customer experience. For example, one department may prove to be understaffed and thus a cause of frustration for customers when they interact with this group. Similarly, problems in communication among internal team members or departments may also be revealed if agents are unable to obtain timely support from peers during service interactions. Our work mapping the Customer Journey is ideal for understanding the gaps that need to be addressed.
A pain point is a specific problem that prospective customers of your product or service are experiencing. However, they can occur internally within your business as well. Many people think of pain points as problems, plain and simple. Like any problem, customer pain points are as diverse and varied as your prospective customers themselves. A key benefit of initiating the customer journey mapping exercise, is providing an awareness of the pain points that exist for your customers, and how severe they may be.
During the process of Customer Journey mapping, we will acknowledge and seek to replicate areas of excellence. Asking how a process, approach, or solution is working in one space, and how the principals can be applied elsewhere. Working together as a team, we reveal these hidden gems.
Good sales strategy requires fitting various components together so they work as a coherent whole. This encompasses multiple departments, functions, and requirements. Developing a customer journey map requires exploring, evaluating, and choosing the objectives that will facilitate reaching your sales goal.
Another key component to creating an accurate customer journey map is creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a profile representing a particular group of people, such as a group of customers in specific roles, industries, market segments, or a stakeholder group. They help us relate to the groups as individuals and provide the context needed when mapping their experiences with your organization.
Together we will create a primary buyer persona for the customer journey mapping exercise. Optimally, this persona exemplifies your target customer. We will define their role, industry, goals, and motivations. Tapping into the sales team members knowledge will help us avoid assumptions and stereotyping.
Creating a robust buying persona requires asking questions that clarify their connection to a specific problem, situation, product or service. What are their expectations of your product or service? What are they trying to accomplish? What is their purpose for using your product or service? What do they want, need, or lack? Are there specific pain points they are experiencing and trying to overcome? What questions do they need answered? And, what really matters to them.
To complete fleshing out your buyer persona we will want to gather additional facets. What does a typical day look like for them? What tasks do they need to accomplish? What channels of communication do they use or how do they communicate? How do they make decisions? Which people or situations influence their decision making process?
Our goal in creating a buying persona is to prevent you from getting stuck in an inside-out perspective of the customer journey. This is the “customer-will-purchase-from-us journey” because it is grounded in a biased view that the prospect will become a buyer of your products or services.
We need buyer personas to capture an accurate customer journey map. They enable us to incorporate alternate viewpoints and a better understanding of the customer experience. Which leads us to why it’s crucial to include people from all over your business when creating the customer journey map. Team members from different areas of the organization will be more familiar with unique aspects of the journey, how they work, and how customers experience them.
We have developed the 5-Lane SAMI mapping framework that we find successful across all industries. Together we will use this as our overall strategy to mapping the customer journey. We will establish our overall approach to the purchase journey across the five interlocking SAMI lanes: the sales, relationship, and customer strands, activities, methodologies, and influences. This is where the customer journey starts coming to life. Where we follow the customer pathway across and through each phase of their journey.
The sales, relationship, and customer strands are interconnected throughout the customer journey. They support, influence, and play off one another throughout the customer journey. They establish lanes with bridges that the customer traverses during their journey.
The sales strand encompasses the four phases of lead, consultation, close, and implementation/delivery. The sales phase begins with the initial touchpoint or spark when the customer connects to your company and becomes a lead. Consultation is the phase when the sales team is working with the customer to understand how your product or service benefits them. The close phase includes the negotiation and deal closing process of the customer journey. And the implementation/delivery phase includes ongoing business, how you manage the relationship, and where you can grow within the customer’s sphere.
Each of the sales strand phases directly correlates the four relationship strand phases of worthy intent, cultivation, rapport, and nurture. In the first relationship phase, worthy intent is demonstrating sincere interest, discovery, and active listening. It’s about them. A person. In the cultivation phase of the customer journey, you find common interests and learn about your customers’ passions, while building a bridge to a deeper connection. The rapport phase is when you have uncovered the internal and external forces in your customer journey, and they are ready to move forward. And the nurture phase in the relationship strand is when your customer feels secure, in control, and confident.
The sales and relationship strands align with the four customer strand phases of awareness, consideration, decision, and champion. The customer strand phase of awareness is about how the customers find out about your company. Consideration is the phase when the customer is evaluating your product or service. The decision phase of the customer journey is when the customer is examining whether they will select you as a provider. And the champion phase is when the delightful customer experience translates to expanded opportunities.
When the strands are aligned, they look like this:
Sales: Lead – Consultation – Close – Implementation and/or Delivery
Relationship: Worthy Intent – Cultivation – Rapport – Nurture
Customer: Awareness – Consideration – Decision – Champion
The associated activities are then layered into the lanes of the sales, relationship, and customer strands. The same activities present themselves in different ways within each lane of the customer journey. Activities include the spark, target ICA (Ideal Customer Avatar), qualifying lead, client “why”, communication, delivering value, outreach, presentations, follow-up, negotiation, close, transition, account team, customer care, ongoing business, QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) and expansion.
The methodology we use in the SAMI customer journey mapping framework was outlined previously. It captures the important nuances and details of touchpoints, areas of friction, customer “why”, experience gaps, pain points, and areas of excellence. This work is critical to not only understanding the current state, but to help us refine and innovate your customer journey.
The four influence factors of relationships, reputation, network effects, and ESK (experience, skills, knowledge) complete the SAMI mapping framework. Relationships are any existing connections between individuals and or organizations. For example, an existing client could provide a warm referral of your product/service to a peer. While reputation appears obvious, there are many components that impact the perceived standing of your organization. This could be a bad review on Google, to a whispered conversation at a conference. The same can be said for network effects. Impressions from PR, social chatter, and events are just a few of the network effects we want to document in the customer journey. Finally, the collective ESK (experience, skills, knowledge) of your team is key to establishing competence, credibility, and trust.
This is the turning point where everything comes together. The development of the framework for the Customer Journey. Together we are building a bridge between departments, team members, functions, roles, and processes. It is the cornerstone for your evolving sales strategy.
This approach forces us to understand the experience from the time the buyer is figuring out whether their issue needs to be solved and is then considering different ways to solve it. Our objective is to uncover struggles that customers would have with any supplier, not just your organization.
Ultimately, we want to make the customer’s experience smooth, easy, and enjoyable. Mapping the Customer Journey brings all the pieces together delivering powerful benefits and laying the foundation for your sales strategy.
The benefits of mapping your customer’s journey include:
• Provide much needed context for developing your sales strategy.
• Identify gaps in service or communications to be reduced or eliminated.
• Guide departments across the organization on why and how they should break down their silos.
• Pave the way for your customers to better achieve their goals.
• Drive Better results, including a faster sales cycle, and more revenue from upselling and cross-selling efforts.
• Reduce costs through optimizing both sales and marketing practices, improvement in the cost of customer service, and a decrease in customer churn reduce the costs of acquiring new customers.
• Enable better customer experiences by connecting on an emotional level and provide optimum encounters in a proactive manner.
• Uncover many insights simply through the process of documenting the Customer Journey.
• Allows an understanding– and then redesign – of the customer experience.
• The Customer Journey output is designed to be a catalyst for change.
• Greater employee satisfaction and confidence with a better understanding of the company’s goals and practices and receiving extra support to help them perform their roles with greater efficiency.
As we begin the implementation stage, we will utilize the SAMI Customer Journey map framework to gain a clear understanding of where you are at now. Understanding where your customer journey is today will directly impact your company’s growth and business development. A delightful customer experience creates positive customer engagement.
Building out your customer journey map delivers immediate and long-term benefits for your sales strategy and business growth.
Customer journey maps help you create a more efficient and effective customer experience moving forward. You will discover where you may be failing to deliver something your customers consider critical. This is key to meeting the high expectations customers have today. An efficient and effective customer experience gives you a competitive edge on the global stage.
Building a customer journey map helps you understand your customers better. In turn, fostering a more productive cohesion between your team silos or business units. Through the mapping process your team members gain a fresh perspective as to why each department needs to be closer to the customer journey.
When we follow the SAMI customer journey mapping framework we help you identify objectives, task, and priorities. By taking this approach to your customer journey, you’re brought closer to the real things that make your business work. It provides you the opportunity to make changes and assess their benefits on the fly. This can then drive your decisions and goals for your sales strategy going forward.
Mapping the customer journey gives a broad and clear view of how your customer experiences your business. This is tremendously helpful for designing, planning, and executing the rollout of future products/services. A customer journey map will also help you focus when it comes to how, when, and where to market your new products/services.
Every owner, executive, and board knows that customer pain points add cost to the business. Mapping the customer journey helps you identify customer pain points. During the SAMI framework process we reveal how many pain points there are and determine how severe they are for your customers.
Another key benefit of mapping the customer journey is how it cultivates your entire teams desire to innovate. Innovation happens when brainstorming, seeking alternate input, and fresh ideas happen. The customer journey mapping exercise inspires and promotes this drive to offer the best possible customer’s experience. And it can help you identify a great product/service you can offer them next.
When we ask, “how do we help our customers achieve their goals”, we begin the SAMI Customer Journey mapping process. Together, using the SAMI framework, we will map your existing sales journey. This is a strategic approach to better understanding customer expectations and is crucial for optimizing the customer experience.
To build an accurate customer journey map we prompt input from across the business. This is why the customer journey team includes representatives from departments all over the organization. People from different areas of the business will have insights and familiarity with specific arenas, how they work, and how customers experience them. It’s vital to document these elements in our mapping process to acquire the whole picture of the customer experience.
At first glance, creating your buyer persona for the customer journey map process may seem apparent. Especially if you take the shortcut of modeling the persona after a specific existing client. However, creating your buyer persona is an essential building block of capturing the big picture of your customer journey.
We will focus our efforts on crafting one buying persona to utilize for the customer mapping journey. Optimally, this persona exemplifies your target customer. The first step is to define their role, industry, goals, and motivations. Tapping into the sales team members knowledge will help us avoid assumptions and stereotyping.
The second step to craft a robust buying persona is asking questions that clarify their connection to a specific problem, situation, product or service. Identify the distinct problem, situation, product or service for the buying persona. Then answer from the perspective of the buyer persona:
• What are their expectations of your product or service?
• What are they trying to accomplish?
• What is their purpose for using your product or service?
• What do they want, need, or lack?
• Are there specific pain points they are experiencing and trying to overcome?
• What questions do they need answered?
• What really matters to them?
• What does a typical day look like for them?
• What tasks do they need to accomplish?
• What channels of communication do they use or how do they communicate?
• How do they make decisions?
• Which people or situations influence their decision-making process?
This approach to crafting the buyer persona will prevent us from getting stuck in an inside-out perspective of the customer journey (the “customer-will-purchase-from-us” journey.) We want an unbiased view from the buyer persona in regards to your products or services. This approach to crafting the buyer persona enables us to produce an accurate customer journey map.
We will utilize our 5-Lane SAMI customer journey mapping framework we developed and found successful across all industries. Together we will use this as our overall strategy to mapping the customer journey. We will establish our overall approach to the purchase journey across the five interlocking SAMI lanes: the sales, relationship, and customer strands, activities, methodologies, and influences. This is where the customer journey starts coming to life. Where we follow the customer pathway across and through each phase of their journey.
The SAMI framework follows the interconnected sales, relationship, and customer strands throughout the customer journey. Each strand encompasses four phases where we map the customer journey. The strands are:
Sales: Lead – Consultation – Close – Implementation and/or Delivery
Relationship: Worthy Intent – Cultivation – Rapport – Nurture
Customer: Awareness – Consideration – Decision – Champion
Our next activity is adding the layers of the associated activities into the lanes of the sales, relationship, and customer strands. Activities include the spark, target ICA (Ideal Customer Avatar), qualifying lead, client “why”, communication, delivering value, outreach, presentations, follow-up, negotiation, close, transition, account team, customer care, ongoing business, QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) and expansion.
While each business model is unique, a common scenario for the first lane of sales – lead, relationship – worthy intent, and customer – awareness would include the following activities:
• Spark – How did the customer find out about you?
• Target ICA (Ideal Customer Avatar) – How did you target the lead?
• Client “why” – Why was the prospective client attracted to your product/service?
• Communication – How did you communicate the client “why”?
• Deliver value – What did you provide that delivered value to the customer?
• Outreach – What methods did you utilize to connect with the prospect?
• Qualify lead – How and when do you qualify the lead?
We will map the activities for the buyer persona in each subsequent phase lane. Often the same activities present themselves in different ways within each lane of the customer journey. The key is identifying how, why, and where the activity pivots to perform a new purpose.
The methodology we use in the SAMI customer journey mapping framework is to identify touchpoints, pinpoint areas of friction, classify customer “why”, look for gaps, reveal pain points, and seek areas of excellence. This work is critical to not only understanding the current state, but to help us refine and innovate your customer journey.
Customer touchpoints are anywhere that the customer interacts with your company. This could be through their sales representative, a physical location, your website, your customer service line, social channels, or events. We will identify all of your touchpoints of how customers experience your business.
Together we will pinpoint areas of friction in your customer journey. These can be something the customer sees or experiences, or behind the scenes with your internal processes. These are especially important as they are associated with areas where the customer feels negative emotions.
Your customers’ motivations and emotions should be at the forefront of your mind when classifying their “why”, in the SAMI framework. Examining specific behaviors, motivations, emotions, and common patterns helps us humanize the customer and better understand their perspective during the customer journey mapping process.
Opening or gaps in the customer experience occur when there is a difference between customer expectations and customer perceptions. Gaps can also be found internally between departments or processes which negatively impact the customer journey. They are an opportunity within the customer journey mapping process to immediately address. Especially as some gaps carry more weight because customers experience them at key moments in their journey which can make or break their experience.
Working hard to reveal where the customer hits a pain point within the customer journey is a critical part of the mapping process. Pain points have the immediate results of creating a negative experience. To set your organization apart within a customer-focused market, we need to maximize positive emotions and minimize negative emotions. Customers remember when your business causes them a headache, and they will choose a different option in the future.
The customer journey map is an opportunity to seek and celebrate areas of excellence. What processes work really well? Where does your organization consistently exceed customer expectations? What actions do the customers value and appreciate? And how can these things be used in other areas of your business?
Our final step within the SAMI customer journey map framework is to perform a deep dive to determine existing relationship assets, review market/industry reputation, evaluate networking effects, and assess resources, knowledge, skills, and experience. These are the influences that directly impact your customer journey.
A key influence within our customer journey mapping process are relationships. These are any existing connections between individuals and or organizations. For example, an existing client could provide a warm referral of your product/service to a peer. Or your production manager is co-coaching the softball team with a senior executive at a firm you would like to be doing business with.
The influence of your reputation is critical since it not only attracts customers, but it also keeps them away from you. There are many components that impact the perceived standing of your organization. We will analyze who, where, and how your reputation influences your customer journey.
Documenting network effects within the customer journey is focused on achieving closer relationships with our customers and prospects. As an example, these influences include impressions from PR, social chatter, and events. Note: for clarity, we do not use the term network effects as a value of a product, service, or platform depends on the number of buyers, sellers, or users who leverage it.
The ESK (experience, skills, knowledge) influence in your customer journey map is a core area of strength. The collective ESK of your team is key to establishing competence, credibility, and trust. And it plays an important role in influencing your customer experience along their journey with your organization.
We will establish the foundation of your initial situation through the customer journey mapping process. By evaluating your current systems, we can look for patterns, identify blockers, understand purpose, question usefulness and validity, and lay the groundwork to formulate a new plan. We will analyze moving parts, anticipate actions and reactions, competencies needed, resources available, existing constraints, and coordinate action across departments.
We break down the complexity of your situation by determining critical aspects of your customer journey. From this newfound perspective, we establish a domain of action. There will be subtle turns, refinements, and solution iterations as we proceed through the essential work required.
Just as it’s critical to understand the full journey, it’s important to pinpoint critical moments that often result in make-or-break decisions for your customers. Together, we identify the moments that lead to your customers walking away, and the ones that persuade them to move forward. At each stage of the customer journey, we build the bridges to and between paths, activities, influences, and team dynamics.
Our objective is to make the map actionable: You want to empower people across your organization to improve the Customer Journey. We are developing a journey map to use the insights gained to change processes and outcomes for the better.
In the introduction for planning, we highlighted how sales strategy begins by bringing together the key managers, team members, and stakeholders in your customer journey. Reviewing why we must include people from all over the business to craft an accurate customer journey map. Additionally, we addressed how the input from different areas of the organization can help detect patterns to guide our understanding of the customer journey.
The development introduction established the definition of the customer journey, and how customer journey maps are a visual representation of your customer’s course with and through your business. Reviewing the importance of placing yourself in the mind of the customer, allows you to see and experience your business through their prism.
The implementation introduction revealed the SAMI Customer Journey map framework. We went in-depth on how it enables you to gain a clear understanding of where you are at now and how understanding where your customer journey is today will directly impact your company’s growth and business development.
To fully realize the learning, benefits, and opportunities revealed in the SAMI customer journey mapping framework, your team must embrace a growth mindset. This means letting go of the status quo, rejecting complacency, exploring alternate perspectives, and recognizing previously hidden opportunities. Our activities and exercises are specifically designed to expand critical thinking.
But what is a growth mindset, exactly?
Ultimately, having a growth mindset means believing that positive growth and change is achievable, and that you are not trapped within your own limits. The fact of psychology is, belief itself can be a limiting behavior. Of course, this does not mean that some can defy basic laws of physics through belief—achieving self-powered human flight through pure belief, for example—but it is true that belief in your abilities strongly impacts your outcomes.
This relates to many psychological principles revolving around individual agency, locus of control, and concepts of personal fundamental limits. Locus of control, for example, relates to how people perceive events in their lives. When people have what is called an external locus of control, they believe that life events happen to them, and also believe, consequently, that they ultimately have little control over their lives. People who strongly subscribe to an external locus of control may be more likely to refuse to take beneficial action in their own lives.
An external locus of control is not inherent to an individual, and genetics do not determine whether or not any person has this perspective. Oftentimes, difficult events in life have pushed people to be more likely to accept that they are out of control, and because of a few bad events they may give up, subconsciously, the idea of maintaining any control to positively affect their lives.
We focus on promoting an internal locus of control, which represents the belief that individuals can affect real change for themselves.
Of course, we all probably like the idea of having an internal locus of control sort of attitude, and likewise for having a growth mindset, but sometimes challenges in life can make these benefits seem like they are only applicable to other people. It is critical to recognize that, in reality, the belief that at least some of the time you can take action to positively impact your life will actually trigger you to take the action required.
This is part of the key goals of a growth mindset. Nobody is destined to fail, and we can all take steps to better learn in areas we want to become more knowledgeable in. The first step to empowering yourself to have a powerful, enabling growth mindset is simply to recognize that it is possible. Then, the hard work begins.
Welcoming a growth mindset is crucial to objectivity, transparency, blame-free introspection, and acceptance of alternate perspectives. Without the freedom attained through having a growth mindset, accurately mapping the customer journey becomes difficult. We cannot see beyond our own barriers or break free from the paradigm we have built without the use of a growth mindset.
Through exclusive growth mindset exercises, we will help your team reject complacency, adopt candid expectations, and accept the mantle of continuous improvement. Thus, creating the pathway to crafting an accurate customer journey map. This is vital work to nurture your team’s growth mindset. Most limiting beliefs are subconscious, so they may take some work to uncover. This is why we want your team to complete the exercises for this session.
Our exclusive growth mindset exercises give you the tools your team needs to shake their paradigm, reframe their mindset, and shift their self-imposed limiting beliefs.
The growth mindset exercises include:
• Accomplishments Worksheet
• Automatic Thoughts Log
• Constructive Criticism Worksheet
• Reframing Flaws Worksheet
• Strengths & Opportunities Worksheet
• Managing Emotions Worksheet
• Identifying What’s Holding You Back Worksheet
• Affirmations Worksheet
• Value Vault Workbook
Our goal is to help your team perform a blame free analysis and to ask themselves questions and tease out the deeper causes of their behavior. It is a fact-finding mission, to identify patterns, and observe where your team has felt blocked. Once your team has identified their limiting beliefs, there are six techniques to overcome them. These are understanding their purpose, questioning the limiting beliefs, laughing at them, formulating new beliefs, retraining your brain, and finding inspiration.
In the first technique, understanding their purpose, you can use time travel, as many of our self-limiting beliefs are formed early in life. With this technique you describe your upbringing. What were your parents or caregivers like? Their values? What did they teach you about the world? What about your wider environment, like school, extended family, local community, and/or religious institutions? What did they teach you about yourself? As you grew older, which of these early lessons did you react most strongly against? What did you learn about yourself that contradicted what you’d been taught? These are just some questions to get you started with time travel to gain an understanding of the purpose for the self-limiting beliefs. The idea is to get a clear picture of the environment you grew up in and how it shaped your belief formation.
The second technique in achieving a growth mindset is to question any limiting beliefs you have identified. This step of recognition allows you to objectively step back and question why your limiting belief exists and how it impacts you.
Consider how having this belief limits you, and imagine a scenario where you are incapable of feeling you are limited in this way. An example is, many people believe they are bad at math, and they may believe that this will always be the case. If a student goes into an exam with this belief, they are more likely to have poorly prepared for the test, because they already expect to fail no matter what action they take. Instead, if they recognized that they could in fact achieve better grades because they were not fundamentally limited in the subject, they may take action to study. Studies have shown that even having encouragement to do better will generally produce better outcomes—not that studying should be replaced solely with gold-star stickers.
Another helpful way to address your limiting belief is to imagine a conversation with a friend. Can you imagine your friend expressing to you that they thought this limiting belief about you? If you have good friends, they would probably never express this – they would only offer encouragement, and belief in your abilities. If your friends believe in you, why should you not believe in yourself? Trust in their judgement.
The next step is laughing at your self-limiting beliefs to shift into a growth mindset. Humor can be an effective unblocking tool. It’s hard for something to have power over you when you’re laughing at it. Make jokes out of your limiting beliefs. Take them to extremes and come up with absurd scenarios that make you laugh, or at least not take yourself and your beliefs so seriously.
The fourth technique to overcome self-limiting beliefs and adopt a growth mindset is formulating new beliefs. To break the power of your old beliefs, you also need to replace them with new ones. You need to believe in something to make sense of the world and to give yourself a stable foundation for navigating it. So for each of the limiting beliefs you’ve identified, turn it around and formulate a new belief that’s more in line with your values and that’ll support you in achieving your goals.
Retraining your brain is the fifth effective technique to help you embrace a growth mindset and quell self-limiting beliefs. Let us return to the concept of an internal locus of control. Recall that life events may be what lead people to have what we’re trying to change: an external locus of control. It is not easy to overcome events you have experienced that lead to any self-limiting beliefs, in part because life experience is very real. To retrain your brain, you will need to take conscious steps to implement growth mindset thoughts, and you will need to actively choose an internal locus of control. Whenever you find yourself following your limiting beliefs, take a second to recognize this pattern, and then instead pivot to a growth mindset.
The last technique in achieving a growth mindset is finding inspiration. Often, the best motivation to grow comes from new interests and passions. Next time you find an area that interests you, consider how you can take action to achieve success there. This can be in the workplace, but it can also be a hobby or life skill. An example is learning a new instrument. There is lots of evidence that at any age, people can develop new skills and become proficient, but instead what we often hear is that new activities, such as music, should be left to young people. This is a limiting mindset, and it is also discouraging people from pursuing passion and following inspiration. Anyone can become better at something if they are passionate and want to dedicate some time. Once you have found your source of inspiration, you can begin to really implement a growth mindset on a daily basis.
These growth mindset exercises for introspection deliver powerful and proven advantages to your team. They help us open our prism to account for logic and emotions during the customer journey. People making business decisions and purchases experience emotions during the process. Feelings of anxiety or double are normal human experiences. By accounting for your customers’ logic and emotions in your customer journey maps we are able to develop an accurate portrayal of their experience.
Together, we will be embarking on a deliberate cultural shift to create the changes needed to improve the customer experience. The interrelated endeavors include refining organizational processes, systemic transformation, technology approaches, and team synergy.
Critical thinking is a key aspect of any well-developed plan. By interlacing the strengths of critical thinking into any project or strategy, a stronger outcome can be achieved. The reason for this is that critical thinking allows honest evaluation of any situation. Making controlled judgements about your goals, needs, and obstacles is the best way to recognize mistakes, as well as develop stable plans that will realistically get you where you need to go.
As we explore the psychology of the customer journey, we will tap into human behavior. We can forget that customers are human beings just like us. Our customers experience life through their five senses. They unconsciously connect with emotion and memory through their innate human ability to perceive the world using sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. The more the customer experience reaches each of these five senses, the stronger the memory that is created and the more likely they are to recall the experience.
Therefore, we want to seek opportunities within the customer journey where your company can tap into the emotions that are unconsciously engaged in the customer. This requires some out-of-the-box thinking to make sense to the customer and produce a positive experience.
Another common human behavior is hidden motivations. We need to identify these with the customer journey map. Customers have deep-seated needs that need to be satisfied during their sales journey. It’s important to remember that customers are more interested in what your product or service can do to solve their problems and address their pain points than they are in your actual company.
Another human behavior is that we are hardwired to first trust recommendations from people we know. This even applies to customers who think of themselves as freethinkers. Crafting a customer journey that delights the customer will position your organization to transform customers into champions.
By combining critical thinking with human emotion, a more accurate, thorough customer journey map can be crafted. Human emotion carries us through life and helps develop strong connections, but critical thinking is needed to effectively plan and develop long-term goals. By combining these aspects of the human experience, your team can strengthen all aspects of customer interaction and achievement.
This process-driven workshop is designed to translate our findings into a visual representation of your customer journey. By providing enough detail for people across your organization to take-action, you will strengthen your ability to address customer needs and to benefit customer outcomes. The customer journey map we will have created together provides the clarity needed to allocate, focus, and coordinate your resources.
We will establish the key deliverables of the customer experience for the team members, stakeholders, and your organization. These are the mutual commitments we form to ensure your sales strategy program success. We will set the vision and outline the actions to thrive at each stage. Through this work, we will begin to diagnose the challenge to overcome and ultimately design your sales strategy.
Throughout the first workshop for mapping the customer journey, we are laying the groundwork to build a coherent sales strategy to achieve your desired outcome. When we have successfully developed your paradigm, we are then able to focus individual minds and energy in the right areas. This becomes our guiding principle to reinforce and support your sales program evolution.
Our deliverables at this juncture are the following steps. First, we break down the complexity of your situation by determining critical aspects of your customer journey. From this newfound perspective, we establish a domain of action.
Next, we establish the deliverables and individual commitments to take your organization to the next level in sales. This involves focusing and coordinating efforts across departments to support the sales strategy initiative.
At this time, clear roles and responsibilities will be defined to establish a structure for the workshop team. The company program manager, participants, and invited stakeholders will be confirmed. We will also establish the guardrails for overall involvement and workload requirements. Finally, by leveraging a positive environment, a team that utilizes a strong growth mindset will have been developed and will be ready to create the customer-based deliverables effectively.
This entire process paves a path to adapt your methods, systems, and teams to focus on the evolution you are seeking.
Additionally, we will develop a procedure to maintain close connections with your key managers, team members, and stakeholders. This will allow for more frequent and thorough evaluations of the team’s progress in the program, and it will ensure that the program meets the needs of the team.
Throughout our work together, we will be transparent and actively seek ongoing assessment. This will provide us with crucial feedback on the program deliverables, achievements, and any needed adjustments. We welcome your valuable input to adjust the program to become even more effective in the future, in addition to benefiting your team as the program progresses.
While the customer map is meant to express the experience from the customer’s point of view, we will be sure to flag areas that present an opportunity for your company to change the experience for the better. We make sure to determine the deliverables for the situations, circumstances, and obstacles recognized. Then they can be converted into action items assigned to the appropriate departments and people.
Once it’s ready, socialize the customer’s journey map throughout your organization. Perhaps you present it to your executive team and a select set of customers before rolling it out to the whole company. You should meet with key stakeholders from all departments to determine how to activate the journey map findings through process changes.
Another important outcome is to make the journey map measurable by grounding outcomes in business metrics. As part of identifying opportunities to improve the customer experience, goals should be made to outline the potential impact of each improvement. By associating these impacts with business KPIs and metrics, everyone can more easily determine which changes to prioritize.
Another reason to align customer journey improvements to business metrics is to help prove the value of a customer experience focus. If your company can, for example, increase contract renewals and customer satisfaction ratings while reducing manual steps in the contract renewal process, it’s a win-win for customers and the business.
We deliberately select the actions needed to overcome the challenge. This involves focusing and coordinating efforts across departments to support the sales strategy initiative. Together, we build the road map of the resources, policies, systems, and maneuvers that need to be undertaken.
It’s good to have a high-level view of the whole customer journey, but you should also have a more detailed map of the different stages of the customer journey. For example, what happens before the customer comes to your website? Does the journey begin with an email campaign? Or is the spark a cold call from the sales team? What is your cadence through the consideration phase of the customer journey? These are all important questions that are easily overlooked but critical to how you attract and retain customers.
Creating a customer journey map is a great way of bringing clarity to your business goals and determining areas that need targeted improvement to better connect with the client. Sometimes the focus must be shifted to one area to make some much-needed improvements. Sometimes, it will be found that there are several areas of improvement that require attention. By identifying these areas and determining the steps for improvement, your business will solidify its strengths in how it interacts across its customer base.
When you’ve created your customer journey map and decided on the areas that need focus, it’s important to set realistic goals. It is not feasible to expect to accomplish everything at once. Too many changes in short succession can lead to a chaotic experience for customers. You might also find that these new changes create new and unforeseen issues. Your team members, for example, will also need time to adjust to any new protocols or system updates. However, by creating a carefully thought-out and targeted action plan that progresses over time, you can bring about the changes that will strengthen your business.
With all the effort put into these new approaches, you want your customer journey map to be future proof. It should be something that you can add to and change over the years as your customer journey evolves. If you change too many things at once, you’ll probably have to create an entirely new map shortly after creating the first as you gain more understanding of the best way to approach desired changes.
The goals you set must be clear, straightforward, and timely. Know what you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve it. Our program focuses on several key areas highlighted below that produce high-performing operations.
Strategic Development – Using the customer journey map we have crafted, we help your leadership teams develop a detailed customer centric strategy that can be communicated, implemented, and executed to everyone in the company.
Operational Assessment – We will complete a diagnosis of the customer expereince to verify what is properly functioning, what can be improved, and areas/functions that are creating material weaknesses in the organization.
In order to be a high performer, you need to embrace a growth mindset to develop power skills and leadership habits. This requires overcoming your complacence, fears, and self-limiting beliefs. It is an iterative journey, with each step improving your professional development.
The mindset, power skills, and habits for thriving PERFORMANCE are:
• Problem solving
• Exchange Information
P = Problem solving:
Confidence to use knowledge, facts, and data to see gaps and solve problems. Ability to share ideas and concepts with team and management. Open door to brainstorm, seek opportunities, and think outside the challenge.
E = Engagement:
Positivity and relatability to form deeper and fuller engagement with team, peers, and management. Bond of empathy by being genuine and demonstrating acceptance of alternate perspectives.
R = Resilience:
Strength to bounce back from set-backs, obstacles, difficulties, and failures. Confidence in ability to prevail and handle stress positively.
F = Flexibility:
Capability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. This is a must with the fast pace of new and emerging changes in job requirements, organizational pivots, industry trends, and technology.
O = Originality:
Courage to ask “why”, imagine new possibilities, and develop new opportunities and solutions.
R = Resourceful:
Embrace technology to keep pace with emerging fast-paced changes and the future of work.
M = Magnate:
Demonstrate empowered leadership and motivation to explore potential areas of growth and interest.
A = Agility:
Capacity to pivot and change direction according to needs of team, department, organization, market, or industry.
N = Negotiation:
Capability to find common ground with team, internal customers, external partners, and management to reach mutually beneficial goals.
C = Collaboration:
Ability to work effectively with team and managers to drive outcomes. Do this by sharing knowledge, contributing ideas, proactively considering alternate perspectives, flexibility to work with diverse styles, and building mutually beneficial relationships with team, peers, and management.
E = Exchange Information:
Clear, concise, and positive communication is a cornerstone of organizational success. Requiring confidence to present and share concepts succinctly while radiating interest in other view-points.
By working through each of these mindsets and skills, your team will be able to address the areas of improvement needed. This will allow for a thorough mapping of the customer journey. Many of these skills tie into our psychological approach to development, especially in the areas of teamwork and growth mindset.
Team building is critical to achieve full group understanding for those engaged in the workshop. By keeping in mind effective forms of communication and collaboration, teams can strengthen their results and better address customer needs.
Learning to apply a growth mindset within the realm of professional and workplace development is another step in determining a positive outcome for this program. Better yet is learning the practices needed to maintain a growth mindset. This method of thinking not only benefits employees on a personal level, including increasing self-esteem and confidence, but additionally benefits the organization by creating a workforce that knows how to maintain a genuine belief in the team’s capabilities. When employees believe that success is outside of their control, this impacts company outcome and environment negatively.
By instead shifting team members to have a growth mindset and an internal locus of control, there will be increased confidence and morale. When people believe that they and their team can have an impact on positive outcomes, they are more motivated to produce quality work, and feel better about their work outcomes. Even in the face of a setback, people with a growth mindset can maintain the thought process that tells them they still have control, and can continue working towards their desired outcome. This benefits the company overall by giving the company, as a group of individuals, a sense of control over its path forward.
Lastly, the recognition of the importance of human emotion and logic will strengthen the overall benefits of the program. It is critical to address and learn about how the customer interacts with the business, and how those interactions are affected by these traits. Knowing how to build and leverage customer trust will assist in ensuring that any customer is a return customer.
Critical thinking is another piece of learning to observe the customer path and, most importantly, working to improve that path. Critical thinking allows the improvements made to be achievable and realistic, which are critical components of any successful program.
This program will strengthen your team’s understanding of the customer journey through a focus on both thought processes and engaging business practices. This combination of a tried-and-tested foundational approach with human-centered growth is a powerful way to improve your ability to interact with and engage customers. This is because the workplace is a dynamic environment, and incorporating multiple perspectives and methodologies allows for a more responsive approach to customer needs. There is no better way to develop the team and workforce needed to create the success you want to see.
Although the customer has always played a vital role in all purchases for as long as people have been trading and selling, the way we now think of customers is a much more recent phenomenon. Historically, consumers had much less opportunity to sway sellers, whether in quality or price of their goods and services. Sellers and consumers were often stuck with each other due to geographical and transportation limits, and with smaller city populations, there was generally less competition, too. The same is true of historic B2B sales, as it were.
Consider an example of a weaver and a tailor centuries ago. A tailor would have depended on the one or two weavers in their area for all fabrics. With little or no competition among other weavers, the weaver would have had a sort of monopoly on their market. They could set their own prices, though with bargaining, the tailors would have had room to negotiate the price down. But ultimately, the tailor would have to buy the one weaver’s fabrics or be forced to travel far away to the next town to find another weaver. The relationship between the weaver and the tailor was fairly constant, with little outside influence to impact prices, quality of goods and services, or speed at which items were made available. Customer service was a largely unheard of concept; you either worked with each other or you did not, but there were not many opportunities to go to another seller or demand better service.
This dynamic began to shift during and soon after the Industrial Revolution, and as populations grew more generally. It became possible to produce goods more quickly and of greater quality. There were also more people and small businesses within the same industries and located in the same cities. This led to more options for the consumers, and thus, more competition among the sellers. It became necessary to differentiate yourself from others. Continuing with the above example, the weaver would need to keep the quality of their fabric high while maintaining fair prices. They may have started differentiating themselves from other weavers in terms of who they intended to sell their fabrics to. Friendliness and quality of service would also have become increasingly important in maintaining lasting business relationships.
At a certain point, the weaver would have no more room to either improve quality or maintain lower prices. Only so much can be done on either metric, and neither would be enough retain companies. Indeed, other weavers would be doing the same, working to achieve high quality and low prices. At this point, the weavers would need to work on improving another pillar of their business: the customer experience.
Across industries, businesses discovered that the best way to compete was by forming strong relationships with their customers and potential clients. This needed to include both attracting customers and retaining the ones they had. As cities grew and transportation became both easier and quicker, businesses relied on good customer relationships – both before and after the sale.
By this point, a business’s reputation would precede it. Were you friendly with customers? Did you treat them well and with utmost respect? Did you understand and address their needs? If you and your employees were pleasant to work with, clients would not only be likely to continue working with you, they’d also be likely to recommend your business for others in need of your product or service. This meant you were also getting warm referrals, further growing your client base.
By the 1980s, businesses around the world understood the importance of customer retention. They understood how important it was to map out a customer’s journey: Awareness, consideration, research, purchase, retention or loss, and finally discussion. The key to retaining versus losing customers was in the customer experience. Keeping customers happy was in their best interest, and so they worked hard to do exactly that. Sellers still had significant power and control over their own narrative, aiding in how happy they could keep those customers. They were able to present their best side, so to speak, so that customers only saw what the seller wanted them to see.
However, with the age of the internet came a notable shift in that power. Buyers became much savvier, with a wealth of knowledge available at their fingertips. Not only could they connect with any of your current or past clients – both those where were satisfied with your business and those who were not – they could also glean greater insight into the inner workings of your business. Websites arose where consumers could provide their honest and unbiased reviews of any business – from the quality of their product or service to the quality of their customer service. Further, current and past employees had a forum to reveal what it was like working for a business, indicating to clients how well you truly treat your employees.
The power of the internet did not end there. Buyers were also more aware of where your products were manufactured and where your materials came from. For example, if they discovered your products are made in third-world country, in which workers are treated poorly and paid poorly, they may think badly of your business, seeing you as exploitative. Or if your products come from animals, and those animals live and die in bad conditions, that would be a red flag for many potential clients. With the rise of the internet, customers were less likely to be swayed by flashy marketing, relying more on good reviews of your business.
As such, the sales cycle became much longer. With clients doing so much research before moving forward with a seller, the seller must do more to ensure that their business is up to all standards. Whatever is happening within your business, customers can now know that, and it can make or break a sale.
If sellers want to keep their clients, they must accept that buyers will know nearly everything about your business. They must be ready to think like the customer, build up a strong foundation for the client relationship, and continue to treat the client well throughout the entire sales process and beyond. It is quite different from where the seller-buyer relationship began hundreds of years ago, and indeed the changes has been fairly recent and rapid. But today, the customer journey is perhaps the most important element of a business’s ability to sell.
In the modern world, most every seller and brand is well aware of how important the customer journey is. Indeed, this can spell success for a business or failure. As such, customer mapping is a vital component of any company’s success, especially long-term success. If your business does not have a solid customer map – built on research and data analysis – it will prove difficult to attract and retain customers.
Of course, the first step – awareness – continues to be a vital part of establishing your business. But gaining new customers is a more difficult, more time-consuming, and more expensive process than retaining existing customers. Existing clients are highly likely to continue buying from and working with you, as long as their experience with you continues to be a good one. Further, those existing clients can aid greatly in getting you new clients, whether they directly refer contacts to you or simply provide positive reviews that other potential clients see and take into consideration.
Throughout the customer journey, it is vital that each touchpoint is a positive experience for the client. Traditionally, these touchpoints would have happened in person, such as in your place of business or at an off-site meeting. However, with the advent of the internet, online shopping, and virtual forms of contact, more and more of these touchpoints are occurring online. In fact, depending on the industry and the goods or services a business provides, the entire customer journey can take place virtually, and a business representative may never meet the customer at all. This is true especially in B2C spaces, for example, for customers who order clothing from an online-only store.
In B2B sales, however, the relationship with your customer is generally still closer and must be nurtured throughout each step of the customer journey. Many of these interactions will take place in modern communication forms – over the phone, through email, via video chatting – but the nature of the relationship remains vital.
As mentioned before, sales cycles are often longer now, meaning the customer journey, too, will be longer. It may take much longer for a potential customer to move forward with your business in the first place, meaning it is imperative that the early portions of the customer journey are well-mapped from your business’s end. How can you attract potential clients’ attention? How strong are your reviews from previous and existing clients? How can you foster a positive experience and develop a foundational relationship with the prospects and potential clients?
Most businesses today will have a customer journey map from which they establish their best practices and continuously improve upon their customers’ journeys. These maps will include each of the major sections that define the customer journey: Awareness, consideration, research and analysis, purchase, retention or loss, and discussion. (Note that some of these sections may go by different names, depending on the particular business or industry.) Under each of the above sections, a company will generally go into detail around particular elements, such as the touchpoints, motivators, and barriers that a customer will face within each section. Or, a business may have client perceptions, risks, and opportunities within each section. It depends on what makes sense for the business.
How a business fills in this map requires solid information. To start, most businesses will adopt a standard model from which to adapt their own customer journey map. However, as the company gains clients and grows overall, that customer map needs to evolve with the business, taking data you have collected from your own clients. This will reveal strengths and weaknesses, allowing the map to become further fine-tuned.
From here, the customer journey map must then expand even further. Which departments or employees will be present for each touchpoint within the customer experience? For example, will the customer interact with customer service? Sales and marketing representatives? Human resources?
Next, your business must establish the links between the different touchpoints. None of these steps occurs in a vacuum. Indeed, they are all closely interconnected. How does your client move from one touchpoint to the next? How smooth is that pathway? How can this link make or break the customer relationship?
Further, it is imperative that you look closely at the emotions that are elicited at each touchpoint. How do you clients respond on an emotional level? What emotions do you want them to experience within your customer journey?
On a related note, how is your company performing at each touchpoint? What is your internal perception, and how does this contrast from an external perception of your business? Your business, its departments, and the employees all play a role in how your customer feels and behaves throughout the process.
Businesses that have a solid and ever-improving customer journey map will have stronger customer relationships and higher rates of retention. But if they stumble in this necessary step, clients can be lost and other businesses will scoop them up.
Although a customer journey map is vital in businesses today, and most every business out there is using one for their own clients, there are some challenges, especially within B2B sales. B2B sales can be more complex, and it can be difficult to accurately identify each touchpoint. Businesses benefit from developing a good system for feedback from their clients. From here, they should develop an ideal experience for their clients.
The customer journey map is just the start of an in-depth process to foster an effective process for your clients. It aids in instilling an important tenet of sales: thinking like the customer. The customer journey map is an evolving tool that businesses use today, further fostering solid customer relationships. Likewise, the way customers and clients think about businesses, their products and services, and their interactions with businesses is always evolving. Within this rapidly changing world, it is vital that businesses pay close attention to what is working now, what is changing, and where that shift is trending. This will assure a good position when looking to what the future holds for sales and the customer journey.
The customer journey will continue to be of utmost importance for the success of any business, but it is also continuously evolving as the culture shifts and new technologies and norms emerge. Coming off of the COVID-19 pandemic, which drastically affected many industries and businesses throughout 2020 and is continuing to have effects even now and into the near future, there are new issues to resolve and opportunities to seize.
As of 2020, B2B companies are growing at a fast pace across a range of industries. However, in contrast to B2C companies, many B2B companies are still lagging behind in terms of focusing on the customer experience. While B2C companies largely have strong use of customer metrics and make good use of customer journey maps, B2B companies today typically have much more room for growth in these areas. Customer-facing B2C companies have already moved leaps and bounds ahead in improving the customer experience, largely for ecommerce. How can B2B companies catch up?
B2B companies across the board must prioritize the customer, if they are not doing so already. How can your B2B business better understand its clients? How can you implement, improve upon, and learn from a solid customer journey map? To go into the future in a stronger position, B2B businesses must make use of new tools (especially digital tools) to better understand their customers, improve the customer journey, and focus on customer wants and needs.
In the rest of 2021 and through 2022, there are several B2B trends emerging that involve impacts to the customer journey. As time moves forward, more and more clients are preferring less direct contact with sellers – at least to an extent. Most B2B buyers prefer a balance between traditional contact (in person and/or over the phone) and digital contact (websites and apps). How much contact they want greatly depends on what stage within the customer journey they presently are at.
Research indicates that approximately 76% of B2B buyers find it helpful to have in-person or phone contact with a seller’s representative when they want to make a purchase of a new product or service. Whether they are new to your business or simply to this particular product or service you offer, most will want some traditional contact to help them through this process.
The number drops to 52% when the buyer is purchasing a product or service they have previously bought from you, but need it with different specifications. More than half of clients will want traditional contact during this phase. When buying the same product or service they have previously purchased, only 15% of buyers want contact with the seller.
Today, only 4% of buyers consistently want to have traditional contact with a seller throughout all purchases. The other 96% are perfectly content to limit contact depending upon what phase they are in and what they are purchasing.
(Note that those metrics will vary depending upon your industry, your business, and the specific clients with whom you work. You will want to collect data that better captures your customers and pivot accordingly.)
These metrics are important in understanding your clients, offering them what they want throughout the full customer journey, and establishing capabilities to meet those desires. Within your customer journey map, you must be prepared to meet your clients on their terms, meaning you will need to be ready to offer traditional and digital contact options. This will help in streamlining the customer journey and customer mapping.
Customer relationships can be worth millions of dollars, especially for certain businesses and industries. As such, it is economically imperative to improve the customer relationships and customer journey as it continues to evolve in the 2020s.
There are further trends to consider within the customer journey of B2B sales today, some of which are largely overlooked and may be a small surprise.
First, consider your company culture and how it relates to the customer experience. Indeed, customer experience is not a fully external force. Clients pick up on a company’s culture, and it can make or break a deal. A negative company culture can be disruptive or serve as a red flag to clients. In contrast, a good company culture indicates that your company will be easy to work with for the client. Going forward, consider what your company culture is now: How high is employee morale and satisfaction? How effective is internal communication? Once you have a solid understanding of your company culture, consider how you can improve upon it. What changes can you make within the organization? These changes will be noticed by clients, which can help improve their customer journey.
Another trend will make sense to most of us, because we all want the same thing in our own personal lives: immediacy. We all want the internet to work fast, with web pages loading immediately and no buffer time on videos. Likewise, B2B clients expect a similar form of immediacy in working with your company. How can you achieve this? One method is by implementing automation technology within your company. Consider automated chat boxes and customer service helpers. As mentioned before, much of the client journey can happen digitally and without traditional contact. How can automation fill in those gaps while simultaneously offering immediacy in certain areas?
On a related note, another trend is eliminating the need to make purchases at all. In the B2C context, this can be exemplified by Amazon’s option to subscribe and save. A customer subscribes to a product they regularly need so they no longer need to remember to buy it every so many weeks. The item simply shows up periodically. Or consider Uber, which has eliminated the need to have a form of payment on-hand. The payment is already saved in your account.
In the B2B context, this could look like a printer telling you when you are low on ink and ordering that ink for you. It becomes an automated process, making it ever easier for the consumer.
Moving into the future, many trends are already unfolding today, and they will only grow more prevalent as time moves forward. Having a strong handle of the customer journey is imperative to ease the transition and be better prepared for the future.