digitalCustJIn the classical marketing model, marketing is deemed to a funnel: at the beginning of the process (in the "awareness" stage) there are many branches competing for the attention of the customer, and this number is reduced through the different purchasing stages. Marketing is an action of "pushing" the brand through few touch points (for example through TV ads).

Since the rise of the Internet and smartphone applications, there are many more touch points from new content serving platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.), individual online presences (such as websites, forums, blogs, etc.) and dedicated smartphone applications. As a result, this process has become a type of "journey".

In relation to customers and the channels which are associated with sales, these are multichannel in nature. Due to the growth and importance of social media and digital advancement, these aspects need to be understood by businesses to be successful in this era of customer journeys. With tools such as Facebook and Twitter having such prominence, there is a constant stream of data that needs to be analyzed to understand this journey. Business flexibility and responsiveness is vital in the ever-changing digital customer environment, as customers are constantly connected to businesses and their products. Customers are now instant product experts due to various digital outlets and form their own opinions on how and where to consume products and services. Businesses use customer values and create a plan to gain competitive advantages or use the knowledge of customers to guide the customer journey to their products and services.

Five years ago, there has been an obvious shift in customer experience, referring to three behaviors that show how decisions can be made in this digital journey:

1. The zero moment of truth (ZMOT) is the first interaction a customer has in connection with a service or product. This moment affects the consumer's choice to explore a product further or not at all. These moments can occur on any digital device.

2. Showrooming highlights how a consumer will view a product in a physical store but then decide to exit the store empty handed and buy online instead. This consumer decision may be due to the ability to compare multiple prices online.

3. On the opposing end of the spectrum is webrooming. Consumers will research about a product online regarding quality and price but then decide to purchase in store.

These three channels need to be understood by businesses because customers expect businesses to be readily available to cater to their specific customer needs and purchasing behaviors.

A customer journey map cam be used to show the story of the customer's experience. It not only identifies key interactions that the customer has with the organization, but it also brings user's feelings, motivations and questions for each of the touchpoints. Finally, a customer journey map has the objective of teaching organizations more about their customers. To map a customer journey is important to consider the company's customers (buyer persona), the customer journey's time frame, channels (telephone, email, in-app messages, social media, forums, recommendations), first actions (problem acknowledgement) and last actions (e.g. recommendations or subscription renewal.

Customer journey maps consider people's mental models (how things should behave), the flow of interactions and possible touch points. They may combine user profiles, scenarios, and user flows; and reflect the thought patterns, processes, considerations, paths, and experiences that people go through in their daily lives. (Source: Wikipedia)

By MediaBUZZ