No matter your business, earning loyal customers who come back to your store over and over again is a common goal all retailers strive for. And that starts with understanding your target audience and what gets them from being simply aware that your store exists to becoming lifelong customers.
A customer journey map is a great exercise for retailers to do to outline each stage of the customer journey and learn more about what their buyers are feeling at each stage.
In this article, we'll go over what a customer journey map is, the stages it includes, and how clienteling software can help you move buyers along each step of their journey.
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is a documented timeline mapping out a customer's journey, starting from the day they first hear about your store all the way until they become a loyal brand advocate. You'll sometimes hear this referred to as a user journey map, customer experience map, buyer journey, or journey mapping process.
Your typical customer journey map includes several features, including:
- Buyer personas: To start your map, you'll want to identify a buyer or customer persona to identify what your average customer looks like. Are they male or female? Young or old? Is their budget big or small? Answers to questions like these will help you build your target persona.
- Customer stages: Next, a map with stages will help you plan out where a potential customer is actually at in their journey. These are like the pit stops on the way to becoming a loyal customer. What stages you'll include is up to you, but we've got a few examples for you below.
- Customer touchpoints: These are the interactions prospective customers have with your brand before, during, and after they become a customer. This could be seeing an ad for your store on their social media channels, exploring your website, visiting your store, or leaving an online review.
- Customer motivations and emotions: Finally, there's the emotional journey to consider in your customer journey mapping. This looks into how someone feels about your brand during their journey and what motivates them to move onto the next stage, or even revert back to a previous step.
Why is customer journey mapping important for retailers?
Now that we've covered what customer journey mapping is, let's talk about why putting in the effort to mapping out the entire customer journey is worthwhile for retailers.
A customer journey map is an exercise that encourages business owners to think more deeply about their target customer and what makes them tick. The more you understand about what attracts someone to your store, the better you'll get about acquiring new buyers and retaining the ones you have.
What's more, customer journey mapping also helps you pinpoint opportunities for improvement. Whether that's optimizing your customer service, addressing customer pain points, or training your sales team to anticipate customer behavior, your map will reveal which stages people are getting stuck.
Five customer journey stages
While there's no specific right or wrong way to put together your customer journey map, most include these five customer phases. Depending on your business goals and what you hope to learn, your map may include more or less journey phases than these. However, if you've done mapping on your own before, we suggest starting with these five.
The first journey phase any potential customer has to start with is the awareness phase. This stage of the customer journey is when someone first learns about your brand.
Example touchpoints at the stage include:
- Reading a social media post on your business's channel
- Hearing about your store from a friend or family member
- Driving past your store and seeing a window display
Given this is the very first stop on the customer journey timeline, the emotion a person is most likely experiencing at this stage is simply curiosity. Or, if you're lucky, excitement. But it's also possible they could be feeling nothing at all, or even a disinterest. After all, just because they became aware of your brand doesn't mean they were actively seeking it out.
Your job at this stage is to simply get people to know about your brand and start cultivating enough curiosity that they'll move onto the next stage.
Consideration is the next stage of the journey. This is where someone has moved beyond basic awareness of your brand and is actually considering making a purchase.
Example touchpoint at this stage include:
- Visiting your physical store and talking to a sales rep
- Browsing your website
- Looking up product reviews to see what others think about your brand
- Saving social media posts featuring products they're interested in
At this stage, the curiosity and excitement your potential buyer started feeling in the first stage has grown. However, they may also have a healthy amount of skepticism. This is arguably the most critical step in the customer journey because it's the most research-heavy. They're looking at your pricing, zooming in on product photos, and asking your sales reps detailed questions.
At this stage, it's your sales team's time to shine and showcase your brand in the best light possible, convincing your potential buyer that they won't regret shopping with you.
If your retail sales associates have done their job during the key moments of the consideration stage, your visitor will become an official buyer that's made a purchase with you.
Example touchpoints at this stage include:
- Making a purchase at your physical store
- Ordering a product from your website
- Using a social media shop to make a purchase
The emotions your customer is likely experiencing at this point is satisfaction, happiness, and even a sense of ownership and pride in their new purchase. You'll want to capitalize on that high and validate all of those positive feelings, letting them know they've made a great decision.
You'd think that once a customer has made a purchase, that's the end of the journey. However, customer retention is just as important as acquiring the customer in the first place. It's at this period of time when a customer is deciding if and when they want to return with you.
Example touchpoints at this stage include:
- Reading a thank-you email sent a few days after they've made a purchase
- Taking a follow-up call from a retail sales associate
- Responding to a text message from an associate with a product recommendation
This is an essential step to converting a one-time buyer into a loyal customer. It's at this point where your buyer could start to feel apathetic again, so you want to follow up often to make sure they don't forget about you. Remind them about all of the positive emotions they felt after making their first purchase and tell them how you can make them feel like that again with a second visit.
The final stage is advocacy. You know you've achieved true customer loyalty when your customer is not only actively shopping with you themselves, but they're also encouraging others to get to know your brand too.
Example touchpoints at this stage include:
- Writing a positive online review about your store
- Telling a friend or family member about their experience with your brand
- Posting about your store or products on their social channels
The emotion you want to tap into at this stage is a shared sense of community. Let your customer know that you care about your loyalty and want to reward them for it. Remind them that their feedback is valuable and that you'd love for them to share their experience with others and online. The more they feel like an important part of your business, the more they'll want to advocate for your business.
How clienteling software can help you move buyers along the journey
While customer mapping is a great way to create a documented plan, sometimes moving actual customers is a lot harder than it looks on paper. Luckily, clienteling software like Clientbook can help.
Clienteling, also known as relationship selling, is a technique retailers use to help convert casual, one-time buyers into loyal clients that last a lifetime. Clientbook helps you streamline this process for your sales team by generating client follow-up reminders, creating custom wish lists for each client, and even allowing you to text clients and send review requests.
It's the perfect tool for getting your customers all the way to the advocacy stage. Want to see how it works? Meet with one of our experts today.
Customer journey mapping is an excellent way to get a visual representation of what your target customers are going through from the time they first learn about you, make a purchase, and keep coming back for more. Having this deeper insight is key to both acquiring new customers and retaining the ones you have.
Utilizing clienteling software like Clientbook helps retailers gain that insight and transition customers along each stage of their journey. Book a demo today to see how we can help you earn more loyal clients at your retail business.