A: Let’s say that you are a potential customer of a niche brand. You wanted to search for a brand that makes pens for left-handed people. The customer journey begins when you’re first aware of the brand. First, you find the brand's social media page by searching online, and then start to look at products, considering becoming a customer. Finally, you either buy something or sign up for their left-handed pen newsletter.
On the marketer side, the marketing team is trying to figure out communications and onboarding. When a person has their first consensual interaction with a brand, marketers work hard to comfortably transition that user into a new customer. They ask relevant questions like, “Have you set up your account? Have you downloaded the app? Are you ready to start using our products?”
Customer experience is not always smooth. Let’s say you ordered a left-handed pen, but you can’t figure out how to activate the tip. You’ll have to reach out to the company's customer support. Hopefully, your simpler questions are answered easily, and more complex issues are addressed in an engaging and reassuring way. This customer support interaction could also be considered a stage in the customer journey.
Another stage of the customer journey could be outreach from the brand. Let’s say you’re pleased with your left-handed pen and leave a review. The brand notices your customer satisfaction and sends you an email about their left-handed spiral bound notebooks. Excited, you order one and discover that it’s a perfect complement to your pen. You start buying more left-handed supplies from this store as gifts for your Local Lefties club and find yourself excited when they announce a new product: left-handed pencils. At that point, you have had enough positive interactions with this brand — even with customer support — that you are now a loyal customer.
The left-handed pen example demonstrates the need for a brand to nurture their customer relationships during all touchpoints of the customer journey, even once the customer has become loyal. A brand should address what a customer needs when they need it, while also introducing new products or upgrades when appropriate.
Customer journeys don't really have a distinct end, because brands should always aim to please even their most loyal customers. In return for customer satisfaction and loyalty, a brand not only gets revenue, but can also receive free publicity if a loyal customer starts spreading awareness by recommending the brand. Let’s say that your Local Lefties club loves their special gifts so much that they ask you where you got the products, and you tell them about that amazing brand. In turn, you’ve created a cycle — thanks to you, every member of the club is now aware of the brand — and starting their own customer journey.