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  • Writer's pictureAnpar Research

5 Stages Of The Customer Journey You Should Know

Updated: Feb 23

Two wooden blocks showing the words "customer journey" and some symbols highlighting a couple of the stages of the customer journey like awareness

Learn the 5 stages of the customer journey in detail with some examples of awareness, consideration, purchase decision, retention and advocacy. Before we get started with the 5 stages, the following is an explanation of what the customer journey is for those of you who are new to the subject.

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey is the direct end to end route of various points in which a person interacts with a brand’s services or products to fulfil their needs or wants such as considering which mobile provider to use to recommending a provider to friends following positive previous experiences.

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Below is a comprehensive explanation of the 5 stages of the customer journey to be aware of.

Stage 1: Awareness - Known brands to fulfil a want or need

Individual level

An individual may have an issue to resolve or an objective to achieve in which a product or service can help to accomplish such as a faster broadband provider. This is where the individual may know of some brands top of mind that provide the service but will investigate and seek more information in order to make an informed decision.

So, through this educational process via a combination of online searches, comparison sites, reviews and personal recommendations they become aware of other brands that could help them reach their target.

Business level

On the business side, you will need to first identify who your target audience is and how to reach them, which you can source via market research like secondary research (online sources, published market reports, internal business records) or segmentation studies as well as digital analytics such as social media listening. This will capture information like demographics, behaviour, attitudes and what media channels they use and how often.

The customer journey funnel illustrating the 5 stage of the customer journey from the pre-sale phase of awareness and consideration to the purchase decision and the final stages of the post purchase phase of retention and advocacy
Customer journey funnel of the 5 stages

Following on from that, you will then look to make more of your target audience aware of your brand using the channels they tend to use via marketing and PR campaigns, so dependent on your budget this could range from online advertising (websites and social media) to television advertising with the pure aim of increasing awareness of the brand by highlighting the benefits of the product or service in fulfilling the audience’s want or need. This could be for either a new product or an existing brand looking to boost awareness.

The ideal level of awareness of a brand would be top of mind in people’s minds rather than them being prompted. So, for example, if I ask you to think of a soft drink, Coca Cola is most likely to be one of the brands that springs to mind straight away.

Stage 2: Consideration – Shortlist of respected brands to choose from

During pre-sale phase, the consideration stage is where the individual will compare your brand with competitor brands in deciding which one to use based on the features, benefits, limitations and cost. Therefore, it is vital that your brand at this point have positive perceptions amongst potential customers so moving away from just being aware of the brand to becoming part of their consideration set.

Portraying the values of the brand are a key component of that in which your target audience may also share such as Body Shop who actively promote against animal testing of cosmetic products.

For the business there are two main ways to improve consideration of your brand – marketing and word of mouth. Firstly, with marketing the message in the advertising and PR campaigns will need to change by highlighting the product features, values of the brand and benefits in addressing issues of your target audience to help build brand perceptions. However, what is more valuable is personal recommendations from friends and family so getting your brand to become part of the conversation is important.

Utilising and promoting testimonials from customers and using influencers as well as helpful informational content like product reviews and guides will all help to create positive perceptions and move your brand into the consideration set and beyond.

Stage 3: Purchase decision - Decided on the preferred brand and action taken

Following on from the pre-sale area of awareness and consideration, the individual has made a decision from a shortlist on which brand to use to achieve their target and has either purchased the product or is looking to.

There are a number things to keep in mind that could turn customers away from making a purchase at this late stage such as hidden costs, complexity in making a purchase, or level of customer service such as a sales rep not being available to talk to on the shop floor at a large electrical retailer.

Therefore, it’s important to be transparent about additional costs and making the purchase process as easy as possible along with encouraging the person to buy by providing coupons with time limited offers, discounts for their next purchase and providing great customer service including after sales care. Also conducting customer reviews is key to ensure they are happy with their purchase and tackle any issues early on.

This is a crucial period that will impact whether or not the customer will move onto the next stage of the customer journey, so it’s vital to get it right and bring value straight away.

Stage 4: Retention – Repeat business for the brand as they become a regular customer

Following a sale, it is vital at the beginning of the post purchase phase not to forget that the job is not done and is relayed to all those involved in the sales process, which can often get lost such as only contacting a customer when a renewal date is coming up for a subscription service is not good enough. The aim should be encouraging repeat business.

Regular communication particularly straight after the sale is important in enabling your brand to build a rapport with customers in providing great after sales service in checking with the customer all is well with their purchase, resolving order or product issues early on, being a guide in how to get the best out of the product, helpful tips and tricks to fix common customer issues and promoting new product features. This all brings value to the customer experience (CX).

Plus, customer loyalty programs can be setup to further enhance that experience in educating customers and adding value with special discounts and offers that is exclusive to members of the program to promote regular purchases.

For example, popular supermarket chains use this extensively with coupon offers or allow customers to use the points with coalition partners like British Airways or Virgin Atlantic in exchange for airmiles.

Retaining customers with repeat purchases of your brand’s products by encouraging brand loyalty amongst your customer base is the goal that a business should seek to do as it is easier to retain existing customers than getting new customers. Plus, the additional benefit of these customers moving onto the next stage by recommending your brand to others or even giving testimonials.

Stage 5: Advocacy – Become an ambassador for the brand

The final stage of the customer journey is advocacy providing that your customers have had a great customer experience on a regular basis then these customers are likely to spread word of your brand in a positive context. So, the more people they tell the more potential revenue that your brand could receive especially as personal recommendations influence purchase decisions. This is a goal that all businesses should seek to achieve from their customer base.

The ways of providing great customer experience in order to achieve customer advocacy is through:

Regular communication

Regular communication with your customers with informative content such as product guides, tips and tricks and related news as well as promotions and offers.

Running a customer loyalty program

Running a customer loyalty program with exclusive offers in terms of discounts and early sales windows for members only, for example Amazon prime members were able to shop a day earlier than the sale on their site.

Providing a high level of customer service at all times

Deliver a high level of customer service on a regular basis whether that’s on the shop floor, on the telephone or email during all points of the customer journey such as processing a new order, delivery, resolving any issues with the product as well as customer feedback questions. Therefore, you need to ensure that everyone involved in your business understands this and conduct themselves accordingly in providing a great service at all times.

Monitor positive and negative comments online

Track positive and negative reactions towards your brand online and on social media through social media monitoring, which will allow your brand to act early and respond to negative comments or reviews on social media before they go viral and makes your brand look responsive and values the opinions of their customers.

As for positive mentions your brand can reward customers who leave favourable reviews on social media and look to get influencers related to the topic area to give their impressions of the brand.

One way to help track advocacy is conducting customer satisfaction (CSAT) and brand surveys with NPS (Net Promoter Score) to see how likely customers are to recommend the brand to friends and family. This will enable your brand to ascertain the proportion of promoters of the brand against the number of detractors and asking follow-up questions for reasons why to get a better understanding of customer nuances and dislikes to help you improve elements of your service.

Key take outs

Stages of customer journey

All 5 stages are very important as your clients move along the customer journey, so it’s best to understand their needs, wants and key pain points. There are obviously challenges along the way that your brand will need to address. The main challenges in the customer journey tend to be around authenticity, personalisation, expectations and changes in technology that impact our everyday life, for example, the ever-increasing number of purchases made on mobile devices.

In order to gain a better understanding of the whole journey a valuable method called customer journey mapping will allow you to see the whole process through the eyes of your customers for a better perspective of their viewpoints, so any necessary strategic business decisions can be made to make improvements and enhance customer experiences. See these examples of customer journey mapping.



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