Creating an Effective Map of the Customer Journey
Sustainable retail success requires a thorough understanding of the journey that your customers embark on, from initial interest and product prospecting to post-sale support, and every step along the way. Creating a customer journey map allows you to understand both the big picture as well as the minutiae of your entire sales process, while keeping the focus on your customers and their habits, wants, and emotional state. This helps decision makers walk a mile in their customers' shoes, which makes it easier for them to scrutinize and fine-tune every detail across each phase of the journey.
A carefully mapped customer journey helps retailers improve process efficiency and create a memorable shopping experience that increases loyalty by resonating with customers on an emotional level. A detailed map will ensure that you offer the right products and effective customer service at every stage, and simplify omni-channel marketing activities. If you want to ensure that your customer journey map is accurate and complete, this requires data collection and analysis from every department and business process. An ERP system is a powerful and efficient tool for performing this collection and analysis, and is also capable of making intelligent decisions based on what it has learned without requiring human intervention.
This article discusses why you should create a customer journey map, how using ERP technology to map the customer journey can be beneficial for retailers, and a few best practices to help you get started.
Why create a customer journey map?
Did you know that customers make contact with an average of five touchpoints before completing a purchase? Since these touchpoints typically use different channels, a basic requirement of every customer journey map is to give you a better understanding of how these channels merge into each other to create a complete, consistent, and impactful experience that resonates with your customer.
A customer journey map can enhance your customer experience by:
- Detecting potential factors that might dissuade customers from completing a purchase or lead to a negative emotional state
- Highlighting the types of information you need to enhance your decision making abilities regarding marketing and customer service
- Revealing opportunities to improve inefficient business processes
How can an ERP solution help?
Customer journey maps depend on reliable business data, so you must be able to collect high-quality data and organize it accurately. Using an ERP solution designed especially for retail businesses will automatically collect and manage a wealth of customer data for you, in addition to improving the efficiency of internal processes across your entire organization. With minimal human involvement, you can create detailed reports on customer preferences such as when and where they prefer to shop, which products tend to be purchased together, how shoppers prefer to research and pay for items, and much more. With this valuable information in hand, you will gain a clear understanding of how, when, and how frequently your customers engage with your brand before, during, and after each purchase.
Customer Journey Maps: Best Practices
Follow these best practices to create an effective customer journey map and make the best use of it:
- Adopt an ERP platform that performs real-time data collection to ensure that your map is built on information that is accurate and current.
- Use data on important touchpoints from each one of your physical and digital channels so that your map becomes a founding document for an excellent omni-channel experience. An ERP solution that has been integrated with your e-commerce platform and POS system will automatically collect real-time transaction data from your brick-and-mortar and online stores.
- Make sure that your map supports a high degree of personalization, such as emails and texts that address customers by name, and app-accessible portals that customers can configure according to their individual preferences. ERP systems simplify personalization during marketing activities by leveraging customer information gathered from past interactions via your online store, in-store POS terminals, customer support calls, and any other touchpoints tracked by the system.
- Use external methods like mystery shoppers and surveys to verify the accuracy of your map, and then use the results to make further improvements.
- Encourage employee participation during the mapping process – no matter which department they work in, your team members are the ones that work closest to each customer touchpoint. They have an intimate understanding of how customer-facing processes really work, making their feedback indispensable.
- Presenting customers with a consistent brand experience across all channels inspires confidence and trust. Your customer journey map can help you align each touchpoint with your overall brand image, and an ERP system can help you enforce this consistency by centrally managing all relevant marketing and merchandising activities.
Designing an engaging customer journey is like planning an exciting cross-country trip – you need an accurate map that aligns with the participants’ habits and tastes. An ERP solution can simplify the data collection and analysis required for the creation of a complete customer journey map. Avoid concentrating too much on any single part of the journey at the expense of others, and if you need a little direction, don’t hesitate to ask for help from external consultants or technology vendors.
Will your current operational setup provide the information you need to accurately map your customer journey? Please contact Visionet Systems for more information on ERP-enabled retail data management.