What a customer journey is, why it’s important, how to create a map and use it

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Coffee shop window

In Kamila Sitwell’s soon to be published ‘Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation’ she discusses how you can use the idea of the customer journey to create personalised experiences for every individual.

Mapping your customers’ journey

‘A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated – but necessary – such a map becomes.’ —Harvard Business Review (November, 2010)

Getting your customer journey right across all key touchpoints is vital. Since experience is everything in hospitality, you need to design bespoke approaches at every stage.

Kamila Sitwell Customer Journey Flow Chart

Mapping your customers’ journey needn’t involve sophisticated software or skills. You can begin by asking questions in relation to the various touchpoints they interact with, as shown in the diagram. This figure is a simple representation of your guests’ journey before, during and after their visit. While there might be some sector variations at different stages (eg, with a coffee outlet, its location will be the first consumer consideration), overall, the process and touchpoints remain the same.

If customer journey mapping isn’t a process you’ve carried out before, I highly recommend that you do so. It will offer you valuable insights, and you may even discover things about the journey that you don’t like yourself, but you’ve never paid enough attention to them before. If that’s the case, you can’t expect your customers to like them, either. Guest journey mapping isn’t a one-off exercise; it needs to become part of your standard practice because, like your customers, it’s a living, evolving thing that’s affected by mood, personality and the world in general. Adjust your customer journey maps on a monthly, or at the very least a quarterly, basis in order to answer the questions:

·         How can we add more value to our customers at each step of this journey?

·         How can we help customers at each stage achieve their goals more easily?

The customers’ path to purchase is formed of:

·         How they behave, pre and post visit

·         Where they go

·         How they socialise

·         What other places they considered prior to choosing your venue

This path presents valuable opportunities for a restaurant or hotel. Mapping the consumers’ journey in this way will help you understand the key moments that influence their decision making. Although it can be a lengthy process, it’s worth taking the time and effort to get it right before you define the paths that different types of customers can take to spend their money with you. Once you have your customers’ journey mapped, the next step is to identify their highs and lows at each interaction with your brand. Knowing this will clearly demonstrate where you need to improve.

The above is an extract from Kamila Sitwell’s upcoming book “Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation”.  For more analysis and insights on how to respond in the competitive, changing world of hospitality by creating experiences,  Bespoke will help raise the restaurateur’s  game providing fresh insights needed to steer a course to customer delight, loyalty and ultimately business success.