What Customer Journey Stages Are and Why They Matter

Jake Fisher

November 7, 2022

5 minute read

What a customer experiences throughout their customer journey is imperative to know what they want, how they interact with your business, and how best to position your company as the solution to their problems. 

Understanding the customer experience will go a long way towards optimizing your conversion rates, increasing customer satisfaction, decreasing churn, and ensuring your customer interacts with your brand positively. Positive associations guarantee that customers will purchase your product or service. 

It doesn’t take a trained psychologist to tell you that what transpires during that journey is important to how they respond to you. Their experiences, feelings, responses, and thought processes all influence whether future customers go with your business or choose a competitor. 

From establishing a need to maintaining their relationship with your business after purchase, B2B customer journey mapping is crucial to better understanding a customer’s experience. Once you’ve analyzed their journey and how it affects their purchasing decisions, your business model can manipulate it and scale it for increased customer attraction, engagement, and retention.

To ensure the best use of a customer journey mapping initiative, try a free consultation with one of our expert strategists to start creating a customer journey map today.  

The Impact of Each Stage of the B2B Customer Journey

We discussed the stages in a previous blog on B2B customer journey mapping, but let’s talk about why they matter

The customer journey mapping process typically has seven distinct stages. Each one represents the steps a customer experiences during their journey. How much they may matter to you depends on why you’re going through the customer journey mapping exercise. 

1. The Awareness stage is all about visibility. How customers come to your brand and find it to solve their problems. Any department or anything that gets eyes on your business is interacting with customers during the awareness stage: 
  • Social media
  • Online ads
  • Print ads
  • SEO-optimized blog content

2. The Consideration stage shows potential customers what your business has to offer. By addressing the pain points of your common customer, you can curate content to direct them toward your: 
  • Product pages
  • Specialized offers
  • Newsletter
  • Social media accounts
  • Website

3. The Decision stage is all about setting yourself apart. This will influence whether your customer decides to purchase with you or your competitors. Your job is to think about the customer experience at this pivotal juncture and set yourself apart from your competitors.

4. Next is the Purchase and Delivery stage. To ensure customer retention, make this experience as smooth and painless as possible. If customers don’t have an enjoyable experience and if their customer expectations aren’t met, they won’t remain a customer for long.

5. The Customer Service stage is often referred to as the user experience stage. Customer service is the time to ensure that customer expectations are met. It’s time to find out what you can do to improve their experience now and in the future.

6. The Growth stage is the time to sell more services. You’re looking to grow your relationship with your existing customers as well as looking for referrals and potential customers. Though new customers are essential to growth, it’s easier to sell additional services to existing customers than it is to start the entire process from the beginning with a new customer. This involves customer success maintenance and helping customers reach their goals with your product or service. 

7. The Exit stage happens when customers stop purchasing your services. Think about how you manage this stage because it will determine the reviews they leave and whether these customers come back to your business in the future.

Consider the needs of your customer base. How do their customer expectations impact these stages when you think about your business and their needs?

Starting the Customer Journey Mapping Process

So, how do you start creating a customer journey map? The first step is to create buyer personas. This helps you segment your B2B buyers and understand their needs better. When you have a better understanding of that you can create a better customer journey map to help improve the customer experience.

After you know which segment of your customer base you’re studying, make a list of probable customer touchpoints. You should also include potential customer responses. 

So, how do you get customer responses? Feedback! Don’t be shy – reach out and ask for their honest opinions on your interactions with them. Put together a survey of some kind and get the information you need.

Once you have the touchpoints and the responses, choose the customer journey map that fits your business best. Are you looking at current, future, strategic, or tactical needs? Go through the stages and use the five components (doing, feeling, experiences, risk, and opportunity) to help you learn more about the customer experience. This will impact what types of customer journey maps your business develops and what customer journey map templates your team will use. 

Perform an analysis of the information you’ve received. This information helps you determine how to better serve your customers, raise brand awareness, cross-sell, and more. It can give you insight into what needs to change. However, it only helps if you take that information and do something with it. This doesn’t mean making random changes. It means making the right changes to improve the customer experience for specific buyer personas to address specific pain points.

Best Practices of Customer Journey Map Stages

This type of customer experience strategy will improve the entire customer journey. Each stage looks at five specific areas: doing, feeling, experiences, risk, and opportunities. How you would complete the fields for each of those would depend on what’s happening in your business. 

As the customer journey improvement map is one of the most challenging processes in this blog, we’ve gone in-depth on each step.

1. The Needs Stage

This is more of a preliminary stage. The customer identifies their needs through a problem by searching out a solution. Your business’s goal is to position yourself early during this stage by making your business visible through content that addresses these needs. 

2. The Awareness Stage

This is how a customer comes into contact with your business. Be sure to ask what your current, ideal, or potential customer is feeling during their awareness of your brand as a potential solution to their problem. Acknowledge pain points and common problems that your business can address. 

With the proper awareness, be sure the customer journey covers how they initially feel about your brand (potentially wary, cautious, investigative) and what experiences or information you can provide to gain their trust. In this stage, establish credibility through data points and testimonials to assure them that you’re worth the risk. 

3. The Research Stage

During this stage, more so than the awareness stage, the customer truly understands the extent of their problem and is establishing potential solutions. Their research will cover different methods, brands, and potential ways to alleviate established pain points. 

During this stage, you must ensure that your content positions your business as a solution to its unique problems. By establishing their feelings, experiences, risks, and opportunities you can understand the method to their research madness and make sure you’re there to help.

4. The Comparison Stage

During this stage, you need to be most aware of your competition’s offerings and how to set yourself apart from them. Comparison charts, FAQs, and graphics can reassure your customers that they’re making the right choice by sticking with you. Focus on what sets you apart to distinguish yourself. 

Though the price is always a factor, if your competitor’s price points are similar, there will likely be other things that set you apart. This is where your understanding of the customer’s journey can help. Intuitiveness, usability, and accessibility are all experiential factors that can sway them in your direction. 

5. Final Choice & Purchase 

This is a crucial stage in this customer journey map. The customer put a lot of work into determining which service and brand are right for them. 

So, go through the five questions to ensure you land the deal. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What will customers do to make their final selection and purchase? 
  • How will they feel about this or during this process? 
  • How will they complete this experience? 
  • What are the risks associated with the final selection and purchase?
  • What opportunities exist once it’s done?

6. The User Experience Stage

After the sale completion comes the user experience. Establishing a rapport of continuous customer support immediately after the sale can go a long way toward maintaining an engaged customer.  

You can pivot the questions and determine more based on doing, feeling experience, and risk. Here are some to get you started: 

  • What does the user experience do for the customer? 
  • What is the user experience like from their perspective? 
  • What are the risks involved in the user experience? For example, does the user experience leave customers feeling confused?
  • What opportunities exist in the user experience stage?

Learn More About Customer and Sales Enablement

Discovering more about sales enablement can only help improve and grow your customer interactions and business. We have so much more to share, check out our series of blogs on sales enablement. 

Defining a Sales Enablement Program

Read About Sales Enablement

Read About B2B Sales Operations

What is Customer Success?

 

Excited to begin? For your free consultation, contact us to get started today. 

 

AUTHOR

Jake Fisher

Jake Fisher, is President and Co-Founder of Bridges. He helps Bridges’ clients with their revenue and growth goals by providing better strategies, better processes, and better technology. He also makes videos and written content to help entrepreneurs, business owners, and managers achieve their own revenue goals. And, he talks to business and industry leaders at conferences and association events.

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