Customer Service

5 Customer Journey Stages and How to Track Them

Jun 30, 2022

Tracking the customer journey provides a birds-eye view of customers’ interactions with your company. Follow our tips to improve customer experience and increase retention.

AvatarImg
Lauren SpillerSr Content Writer
5 Customer Journey Stages and How to Track Them

What we'll cover

If you lead your business’s branding or social media team, you might wish you were a mind reader. What’s keeping potential customers from making a purchase? If they’ve already made a purchase, will they make another? What do they like about you? What don’t they like?

While we can’t help you read minds, we will discuss ways you can track the customer journey, an important component of your customer service strategy. Tracking the customer journey is important because it provides a birds-eye view of customers’ experiences with your business. If you’re looking for opportunities to improve customer experience and increase retention, it’s necessary to track their journey from start to finish.

To get you started, the table below provides a quick overview of the five stages of the customer journey and what they look like in practice:

Customer journey stageDefinition and what it looks like
AwarenessThe awareness stage is where a prospective buyer becomes aware of your brand. They could find you through Google, see your ad on social media, or learn about you through a friend.
ConsiderationThe consideration stage is where a potential customer decides whether they want to give you their business. They might browse competitor sites, read reviews, compare price points, or sign up for a trial at this point.
PurchaseThe purchase stage is when a customer buys your product or signs up for your service.
RetentionThe retention stage involves everything you do to keep a customer shopping with your business. This could include implementing a customer loyalty or referral program, soliciting customer feedback through surveys, or revisiting your customer service strategy.
AdvocacyThe advocacy stage is when a customer continues to shop with you and spreads the word about your product or service, either via online reviews or to their friends through word of mouth.

How to track the customer journey

Now that we’ve covered what each stage of the customer journey entails, let’s discuss some ways to track your customers’ progress through the customer journey.

Tip #1: Define customer personas to predict customer behavior and expectations

Our first tip is a good preliminary step to take before you get into customer journey tracking. It calls for the creation of customer personas to predict customer behavior and expectations. A customer persona, also known as a buyer persona, allows you to split your customer base into subsets who share similar goals, needs, and motivation factors.

Personas are powerful tools that aid in marketing and customer experience planning, as they offer insight into what customers want and how they will engage. They can be used to design messaging, experiences, and product features to meet customer needs and expectations.

Customer journey mapping software can help you create personas, but you can get by without it for this step. Gartner recommends hosting workshops where you work with your team to brainstorm customer personas. Who are your most valuable customers? What are their wants, needs, goals, and mindsets? What does customer success look like to them? 

Then, you can create a customer journey map for that persona—more on that later.

Tip #2: Walk in your customers’ shoes to identify pain points and fix roadblocks

This tip is best suited for the consideration stage of the customer journey, and it involves some role-playing. Pretend you’re a customer of your own business, or better yet, enlist a secret shopper to avoid bias.

Ask your shopper to make note of all touchpoints and any inconveniences associated with them so they can share feedback with you later. Is it easy to find your website? Is the website easy to navigate? Is it a smooth process to add items to the shopping cart? Is it clear how to contact customer service, if needed? Is live chat only offered during certain hours, or 24/7?

Tracking the journey of your actual customers is the best way to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a customer of your own business, but this option is a viable shortcut if you want quick feedback. A similar option would be to survey your customers on their experience with your website, or any other customer touchpoint.

Tip #3: Create a customer journey map to visualize the entire customer journey

Our third tip is useful for tracking any and all of the customer journey stages. A customer journey map is a visual aid to help you better understand the customer journey. Customer journey mapping allows you to customize each customer’s experience across all channels.

Some businesses elect to use spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to track customer interactions, but if your leadership team is willing to invest in it, customer journey mapping software is preferable. It can track each customer touchpoint and automate marketing and communication tasks, such as in the example below.

NetCore

Image of journey mapping feature from NetCore

Tips for tracking the customer journey as you scale your business

If you’re ready for more advanced capabilities—or you’re trying to build a business case for tech adoption to improve customer experience—we recommend adopting customer journey mapping software. Some of its most useful features include:

  • Customer profiles, which record each customer interaction with your business.

  • Heatmaps, which allow you to see which parts of a page drive conversions and which serve as roadblocks.

  • Lead management which gives you the position of a lead in the sales cycle. 

  • And surveys, which give you an easy way to solicit feedback from customers.

Tip #4: Use a tool or metric to measure customer satisfaction

Like the previous tip, our fourth and final tip is more holistic in that it looks at the entire customer journey to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. We encourage you to try different tools and metrics that measure different aspects of the customer experience, as well as the value your business receives from each customer. 

Some tools and metrics you can use include:

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

CSAT is a customer satisfaction metric that measures how positive or negative a customer’s experience has been with your business. It’s calculated based on customer responses to the question (or a variant of the question), “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the service or product you received?” Your CSAT score represents the percentage of customers who choose positive responses over neutral or negative ones.

Net promoter score (NPS)

NPS helps measure a customer’s satisfaction level by looking at loyalty parameters. It’s calculated based on customer responses to the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend?” Based on responses, you can divide your customers into three groups: promoters, passives, and detractors. NPS is the difference between the percentage of your promoters and detractors.

Customer effort score (CES)

CES is based on a survey question that asks customers how difficult it was to get their query or complaint resolved. It’s different from the above two methods in that it uses a negative parameter to measure customer sentiments, “How hard did you have to work to get a problem fixed, a query answered, or a service rendered?” CES is calculated as the average of the scores given by all responding customers.

Enhance customer experience by tracking customer journey stages

Tracking the customer journey is essential to get that 360-degree view of your customer’s relationship with your business. You can use these tips to improve customer experience with or without dedicated software. You can also use them to build a case for tech adoption to present to your leadership team.

4-tips-for-tracking-the-customer-journey

Note

The applications referenced in this article are cited as examples to show a feature or function in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.

avatar
About the author

Lauren Spiller

Sr Content Writer
Lauren Spiller is a Sr Content Writer at GetApp covering customer service and customer experience with a focus on customer acquisition through SEO. She has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition from Texas State University and has presented her work at the European Writing Centers Association, Canadian Writing Centres Association, and the International Writing Centers Association conferences.

She is currently developing content for a workshop series on SEO writing.
Visit author's page

mentioned in this article