A Simple Approach to The Customer Journey

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, David Smith – Enjoy!

customer journey

Photo Credit: OneDollarPhoto, gustavofrazao

If you are a small business owner, you instinctively know it’s a wonderful thing when a customer receives value AND has a very positive experience when they deal with your business.

If the journey is hard and the experience is on par with your peers, or worse, unpleasant, you’ll have no chance of building a lasting relationship (loyalty) with the customer. You’ll miss out on the repeat business and referrals that delighted customers bring.

Plainly speaking: The better the experience with your business, the more opportunity you will have with the customer.

That is why Customer Experience (CX) has become a much talked about element for building a successful business.

The major consultancies (Gartner, Forrester, etc.) define Customer Experience in a common way: customer feelings and perceptions caused by interactions with your business. Large companies are advised to have coordinated and consistent experiences across their multiple channels and business units. Many large organizations have an entire department focused on nothing but Customer Experience.

If you are a small business, the complexities of multiple business units may not exist. Your sales transaction, support, service, training, and other opportunities to craft customer experiences go through a small set of people and systems within your business. With limited resources, effectively designing and managing the Customer Experience can become overwhelming to a small business.

By taking a simple approach, a small business can achieve the same results as a large organization that has a Customer Experience Officer or Department.

Using a small business perspective may be the best way for you to think, plan, and implement interactions that achieve positive feelings about your business.

Instead of thinking Customer Experience (macro) think Customer Journey (micro).

Simply put – break it down.

Practically speaking, the Customer Experience is made up of many Customer Journeys. The Customer Journey is the path customers take to solve a particular problem or need. In some cases, the journey results in a transaction for a good or service, which is why the Customer Journey is sometimes also called the Buyer’s Journey.

Customer Journeys are repeated for every instance where the consumer is purposely engaged and looking to achieve a value outcome. The cumulative effect of these interactions creates the Customer Experience.

By breaking it down, moving from the macro view of Experience to the micro view of Journeys, you can begin to simplify and design the interactions of your customers one at a time. The Journeys are simply the interactions and opportunities you have to deliver value and build positive feelings in your customer.

There are potentially dozens of major points of interaction within a small business. Examples include interactions from:

  • the initial purchase
  • returning customers
  • support or service
  • training or instruction
  • billing or administration

If you use a consistent framework, such as the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™, you can define the customer progression toward value and positive feelings. The Hourglass will allow you to map the progress the customer takes from discovering they Know, Like, and Trust your business, into the conversion phase of the Hourglass, Try and Buy.

The Customer Journey doesn’t have to be complicated. Breaking it down into small parts allows you to successfully build systems that deliver value and create positive interaction.

David Smith Valens PointDavid knows first hand the strains of expanding a small business while continually delivering optimal customer and financial results. He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and understands the ability to gain additional customers and revenue has proven to be the critical element of small business. David helps customers install effective sales and marketing programs via his firm ValensPoint. He earned a degree in Business Administration from Faulkner University (Montgomery, AL). He resides near Anniston, AL.

6 Ways to Develop Repeat Customers

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing’s own Kala Linck – Enjoy!

You may have heard us talk about the Marketing Hourglass. The Marketing Hourglass refers to the entire customer journey, from when they first hear about your brand, to when they decide to purchase from your brand, to when they become a loyal customer and refer your brand to other potential customers. This technique, we’ve found, is the best way to find and secure business.

The bottom of the hourglass (“Repeat” and “Refer”) can be neglected when so much energy is going into finding and converting new clients and customers. Now that you’ve secured the business or converted the lead, you’re celebrating! Plus, you’re exhausted from all of the work it takes to make a sale or gain a customer. Today, I’m going to help you make sure that your clients are repeating. It’s vital that your customers return to your business a second and third time. When they become repeat customers, you rely less on the energy for new customers because

a) you’ve got customers coming back, and

b) those customers can refer you to new customers.

Products and services are different, which is why I put together three tips for each on things you can do to ensure you keep those customers coming back for more.


Photo via PhotoPIn

Photo via PhotoPIn

Let’s start with services. There is a lot of pressure on the service industry to provide continuous support. Just one bad experience can turn a customer against you, and these things can help prevent that from happening and keep them coming back for more. The key is to be the most convenient offering of your particular service. You can do this by:

  1. Offer packages. If you offer packages, you’ll provide an immediate reason for a customer to keep coming back to you – at least until their package is over – giving you plenty of time to provide great customer service. By the end of their package, they won’t want to go anywhere else! A great example of this is something I recently experienced when I needed an eye exam. It’s necessary that each time I go in for an exam, I purchase contacts. So, by purchasing one eye exam and getting the next two free, my eye doctor is guaranteeing that I will make my next two contact purchases from them.
  2. Send reminders. One reason that I keep going back to my dentist is because every six months, they call to remind me that it’s time for a regular cleaning. When they call me, we schedule my appointment. Now, remembering to go to the dentist is one less thing that I need to do, and it’s that convenience that makes me a repeat customer.
  3. Offer an unexpected bonus. Many times, what we pay for is what we get. We can pay to get our yard mowed from seven different lawn companies, and when we get home we see that our lawn has, indeed, been mowed. Stand out from the other lawn companies by spending an additional half hour edging the sidewalk for a client. They will see the difference, and it will help them to remember to call you when they need lawn care again.


Photo via PhotoPin

Photo via PhotoPin

What about products? All products, but especially if you’ve got a lot of competitors, need to ensure customers get value out of your product so that they will continue to make purchases. With products, you’ve got a margin to contend to. What are some subtle differences that you can offer without diminishing that margin? Here are three ideas that can help you maintain your customer base:

  1. Provide fast shipping. I don’t think I’m the only one that gets thrilled when something I ordered gets to me at the low end of the projected shipping timeline. Three days is certainly better than five! There is minimal that you can do when the package leaves your warehouse to head to your customer, but what can you do on the front end to speed up your process? Knowing how long packages take to get to your customers is the first step. Make sure your projections are accurate, under promise and over deliver, and if necessary, make some changes in your process to get your customers what they purchased faster.
  2. Offer points. Credit card companies have been doing this for years, but now products are starting to see the benefits of offering a points system. Much like the rewards program at your favorite lunch spot that you keep going back to because you’re SO close to that free lunch, rewards programs are a great way to stay in touch with customers and build loyal fans.
  3. Use special packaging. When packaging is personal or nicer than your average crushed box, customers are more likely to buy again. Most everyone wants to feel special. Whether it’s putting your product in a decorative paper bag with crepe paper before they walk out the door or adding a special customer note in their package when you ship it, that little touch of something extra will help your customer remember you for their next purchase.

There are many ways that your can make your customers feel like they are spending their money in the right place, and these are just a few that I have found to keep me coming back for more. You’ve probably been thinking about your product or service throughout this post. Have you come up with any ideas to implement into your customer journey? Or is there something that you already do that is effective? If so, please share below!

IMG_2750Kala is the Community Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. She’s a specialist in digital marketing, who loves nothing more than picking up a newspaper and tuning into the local stations. She’s worked with clients spanning a variety of industries and knows that people are the heart of a successful business. She loves to travel and try new foods, and documents her travels in her blog. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.


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