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The e-commerce market is growing rapidly. Especially with many new online stores opening every day, it can be quite challenging for online store owners to beat the competition. So, what can you do to help your business survive in a highly competitive market? A great customer and user experience can become your competitive advantage. By improving it, you will help your online business succeed. And this is where customer journey mapping comes into play. When used correctly, it becomes instrumental in building customer loyalty and creating a winning business model.

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What Is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map (CJM) is basically a visualization of what a customer is going through when interacting with your business to meet their goals. It maps out the actions they take, their expectations, emotional state, problems they face, and so on.

CJMs are extremely helpful when you want to start viewing your business from your customers’ perspective and better understand the clientele. They can help you uncover experience flaws and things that aren’t working properly, and come up with ideas for improvement.

Personas lie at the heart of CJMs. They are general representations of your customers based on concrete data and research. So, collect as much information as possible about your existing and potential customers. The more relevant information you have about your clients in the personas profile, the more detailed and effective your map will be.

Before creating a CJM, there are some points to consider:

  • Objectives. Like any other project, your CJM initiative needs to have objectives. What do you want to achieve? Is it improving a website visitor experience? Or is it enhancing the customer experience in general? 
  • Customer persona for the map. It is important to create a buyer persona before your start working on a CJM. However, what if you have more than one persona? Your task is to decide whether to create a map for each persona or to focus only on those who are, say, more profitable. 
  • Map scope. Depending on your mapping goals, you may choose to concentrate on the part of the journey, not an end-to-end one. 
  • Customer emotions. Customer emotions and their experience are directly connected. So, it’s important to capture emotions at different stages of the customer journey. 
  • Touch points: These are critical interactions when customers come into contact with your e-commerce business throughout their journey. You need to know all points, identify which ones are most important for your business, and pay more attention to them. Be sure to consider adding touch points to your map.

E-Commerce Customer Journey Stages

E-commerce customer journey stages can be generally divided into three phases described below.

First Phase: Pre-Sale 

This phase means a lot for your business. This is where the potential customer considers the option of buying in your online store. In order to drive more sales, you need to understand what attracts customers to your store and impacts their experience in a positive or negative way. 



Pro tip: Avoid comparing yourself to competitors. 

Second Phase: Sale 

Let’s say that you have done well enough in the pre-sale phase that the customer is thinking about buying one of your products. Now, they may need some expert help from you. For instance they may need insight on the subject through reviews and similar content to help them choose the best possible product. Your task here is to meet their expectations and help them achieve their goals at each stage.

However, consider these factors:

  • The means of payment: When it comes to the payment stage, clarity, simplicity, and security are critical. The client must feel comfortable throughout the whole process. Your website should only ask for the data essential for the purchase, show the certificates that guarantee the encryption of the data, and allow the user to review the information at any time before finalizing the purchase order. They should also be able to cancel the order easily and contact your customer support at any time.
  • The uncertainty: The time between the execution of the payment and the arrival of the confirmation email message is extremely important. The longer customers have to wait, the more frustrated they will be. Thus, try to make the whole process as fast as possible.

Third Phase: Post-Sale

Your customer journey map does not end when the customer buys something from you. It continues with the delivery stage, usage, customer service, and so on. Also, customer experience at the post-sale phase will influence their decision about the next purchase at your store and the way they share their experience with you with their relatives, friends, and colleagues. 

So, make sure that your customers get a positive experience during the post-sale stages of their journey as well.

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Conclusion

The competition between online stores is growing at a fast pace. Looking for a competitive advantage, turn your attention to customer experience. It can become your competitive advantage and customer journey mapping as a tool to help you understand the existing experience of your customers and think of the ways to improve it.

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