The importance of the consumer journey
There has been a lot of talk in the last few years around consumer journey mapping - some good, some bad. As I talk with folks in the industry, both on the agency and the brand side, it seems as though you’re either bought into the idea of a consumer journey or you’re not.
Personally, I’m a believer that if a consumer journey is understood and used correctly, it can become a treasure map for brand growth. However, and I think this is where a lot of people get stuck, the real success comes when the consumer journey is acted upon - and it can only be acted upon once we make it actionable.
Making a consumer journey actionable isn’t simply mapping the path a consumer takes to do business with your brand and act within that. Sure, that’s a part of it, but it is only the starting point. Here is the continuous process that turns a consumer journey into a treasure map for brand growth.
Mapping the Current State
When most people think about the consumer journey, they think of this step and most stop here. This is the mapping of the consumer journey from consumer unaware all the way through advocacy and retention - across pre, during and post purchase from a brand. The mapping of the current state should include everything we can glean from the consumer and the brand processes - mapping channels, devices, content, emotion, expectation, operations, actions, etc. By mapping a consumer journey to this detail, we can start to identify moments of consumer pain, confusion or excitement. These moments will become crucial to an action plan for the consumer journey.
Crafting the Ideal State
Throughout the mapping of the current state of the consumer journey, as we uncover the moments of chore and cherish, we will get a sense of what consumers expect and want along with bottleneck areas within our organization and brand promise. Using this information, we can craft the ideal state of the consumer journey, using the information we have at our disposal at this moment in time. Here, we will look at removing moments of pain, optimizing moments of cherish, reducing waste and creating new value. This ideal state will ultimately save the consumer time while increasing the value exchange between brand and consumer.
Capturing the Delta
The gap between the current state and the ideal state becomes the ‘scratch’ that brands build their consumer experiences off of. These delta areas become the foundation for the consumer experience roadmap. For example, if there is a pain point at the moment of purchase, where the consumer has to fill out 3 forms of personal information in the current state, we will see a large delta between the current and ideal state, where one-click purchasing has become the norm. In essence, the delta gaps become the things that we will act on.
Prioritize & Execute the Roadmap
Now that we have a sense of action, we can score and prioritize the actions based level of pain or return. Having a hierarchy of experience enhancements will allow your brand to continually make the biggest updates that will make the most impact for the consumer and the value proposition from your brand. For example, if your onboarding process post purchase is seen as a huge pain point for the customer, then optimizing this process could create huge gains for satisfaction, loyalty and retention.
Test / Learn / Iterate / Grow
Now that we have a prioritized consumer journey roadmap, we’re then able to start taking action to solve for or enhance specific areas for the consumer and the brand. Executing against the roadmap will not only streamline processes and efforts, but will find and create new value between the brand and consumer.
However, as efforts hit the market, it’s important to track how they perform with the consumer and against objectives. Understanding what’s working and what’s not gives your brand the power to learn, iterate and grow.
A final note: The consumer journey isn’t a one time, in the moment thing. It’s an evolution of consumer expectation, behaviors and desires combined with an evolution of brand promise, purpose and fulfillment. The best brands and brand leaders approach the consumer journey with an always on, evolutionary mindset - continuously optimizing and enhancing the consumer journey.
Ready to chat more? Feel free to reach out.