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Understanding the Buyer’s Journey


The digitization, the Internet, and social media platforms have transformed the search behavior and purchasing processes of customers. Today, customer obsession is a must. The future of marketing will therefore be based on both the touchpoints and on the customer journey. They represent the prototypical journey of a customer through the corporate landscape.

Touchpoints come into play wherever a (potential) customer comes into contact with a company and its employees, products, services, platforms, and brands. Both online and offline touchpoints, such as the “Moment of Truth” show what the advertising promises of a provider are actually good for.

The term “customer journey” originally comes from e-commerce. It describes the path taken by the user when surfing the web via views and clicks to make a purchase. When considering this, it is often forgotten that a potential customer not only jumps back and forth on the web but rather merges virtual with physical touchpoints.

Rarely does the customer follow the channels planned by the provider, which act in isolation and uncoordinated, and often even compete with one another.

The actual, customer-specific journey and its consistently positive course must rather be the linchpin of all company activities. And everything that the provider promises via advertising must not only be adhered to, but ideally even be outbid.

Why Customer Touchpoints are so Important

Great companies deliver the best experience to their customers at all touchpoints, across the entire customer journey. If you look at this from the customer’s point of view, it quickly becomes clear which touchpoints are missing from the customer’s point of view, which are highly relevant, and which are completely irrelevant.

Unnecessary touchpoints can be excluded or deactivated in order to save costs. From the customer’s point of view, supposedly small touchpoints can be major pain points. These must be found and eradicated as quickly as possible.

Touchpoints, on the other hand, have to be strengthened and pampered. Once the contact options have been brought into a customer-logical sequence, their interaction can now be synchronized, optimized, and made more customer-friendly.

However, anyone who interacts with a company as a customer can quickly get annoyed by uncoordinated processes. The reasons for this are silo structures, isolated departmental goals, and the associated self-interest.

All of this is also fueled by incorrectly set up bonus systems. In addition, the companies are usually on the market at two speeds. For example, the target group has long since received information about a new service via the specialist press, while the sales department still hasn’t.

Thus, the employees were not even informed about the new commercial that is already on the radio. Such gaps in coordination also exist internally, of course. Different data exist in several places about the same customer.

How to Develop Prototypical Customer Journeys

In theory, there could be an infinite number of different journeys. Because every customer reacts a little differently on each of his sales trips. In order not to get bogged down, it is best to first concentrate on a journey that is critical to success as a prototype. The question here: which scenario do we want to investigate for each type of customer?

To do this, it’s best to use experience mapping and define personas in advance. These are prototypical representatives of a customer group who combine their characteristic properties, expectations, and procedures. This includes demographic data as well as the pain points of the desired customer.

You have to depict the individual phases of a prototypical customer journey: research phase, presales phase, purchase phase, loyalty phase, and influencer phase. Then look at the individual touchpoints, i.e. the points of contact between provider and customer that belong to a prototype journey. Buying journeys for complex offerings require a lot of experience to be mapped properly.

Human Touchpoints are Often Decisive

Especially with service providers, the total of the touchpoints can be subdivided and structured as follows in order to focus on the individual facets from the customer’s point of view:

  • Human touchpoints;
  • Process touchpoints;
  • Product touchpoints;
  • Document touchpoints;
  • Location touchpoints.

Let’s take the hotel as an example. The employees with whom you come into contact at many points are the human touchpoints. Processes such as the check-in or check-out process are process touchpoints. Room furnishings are product touchpoints. The information material in the room or the menu is document touchpoint. The parking lot or the wellness zone is location touchpoint. And at all touchpoints, there is something to optimize from the customer’s point of view.

Usually, the human touch plays a decisive role. In the automotive trade, for example, a customer may remain loyal to his car brand, but leave the traditional dealer because his long-term advisor moves to another car dealership. And it can also happen that the seller’s loyalty painstakingly built up is destroyed in a few moments by poor customer service.

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