Business owner interacting with customer.

Understanding The Customer Journey and Why Its Important

Today marks the beginning of an insightful online web content series about business in Africa. In our first segment, we get to look at Customer Journey and why it’s important for any business or entrepreneur to grasp the meaning behind it and propel their businesses to greater heights.

Why am I starting at the customer journey? Simply put if you have no customer then close down your business and go find employment elsewhere. Working from the assumption that keeping your business doors open is a key concern of yours, I will take you through why the customer is not only king but needs to be understood.

Whether you are a Business to Business or Business to Customer inclined organization, this will apply to you. To every client I have worked with I always start by asking them to pick out one real customer they currently have and fill in a customer persona card. It is frustrating how many aren’t able to give me more than 50% of the information I need. Feel you can do better?

Use the image below to talk about your customer.

How confident are you about the information you have put down about your customer? If you are extremely confident then this section is not for you. Stop reading this now and go ace your business.

What I want the rest of us to do is be aware of why it is important to intimately know your customer. The best and biggest brands out there do this. Coca Cola, for example, spends a week in the lives of their customers, often sending employees to live with potential customers in rural areas for a day or two to understand them deeply. The information gathered allows them to model their products to individual needs.

Knowing the underlying need your customer is seeking as they consume your product/service will help you to model a product that addresses this need and will see you have a higher conversion rate within your customer target market.

We have already established the need to know your customer and customer segment and how this impacts your business, but how do we go about knowing and understanding our customer?  Please enter customer journey mapping. The customer journey is based on three key elements: Customer pains, jobs and gains.

The customer journey is based on three key elements: Customer pains, jobs and gains.

Two people having a hand shake.
Knowing the underlying need your customer is seeking as they consume your product/service will help you to model a product that addresses this need.

Look at me whenever I order a SafeBoda in Kampala and ask yourself what is the need I am trying to satisfy. I will order a SafeBoda because I am trying to get from point A to B. That is the job I am trying to accomplish at the end of the day.

However, in trying to get my job done (transportation), I face a number of pains. Look at pains as the risks, obstacles and costs I incur as I try to go from Point A to B. Some pains will include the inability to access public transportation, due to the remote location of my home, high cost of regular boda’s, recklessness of the average boda rider, unwillingness to negotiate and bargain for the “right price” et cetera.

We need to contrast this with my friend (let’s call him Moses) who uses Uber boda over SafeBoda more regularly.  Moses is trying to get the same job done as I was. He wants to move from point A to point B. The difference between us comes in our pains.

While most of the pains we incur are similar, to Moses the issue of safety on a boda doesn’t bother him as much. Hence Moses will choose Uber Boda over SafeBoda, knowing he will most likely not get a helmet and the riders aren’t as careful as SafeBoda riders. This does not concern him because his pains center around affordability, convenience and access while a critical concern for me is safety.

Remember at the beginning how we described the customer journey being based on jobs, pains and gains. We have covered the jobs and pains element but now want to understand the customer gains. Gains are benefits that a customer enjoys as they use your service/product. They may be expected or unexpected.

Often times we expect gains to have a direct relationship with customer pains but this is not always the case. Going back to our example, some gains I would get from Safeboda would be safety and affordability. I also get some unexpected gains like the accountability aspect should I have to claim for my transport expenses at work, or merely budget for my monthly income and expenses.

Key to note is while Safeboda proposes convenience as a possible gain, as a customer I often do not experience convenience. Every time I try to order a Safeboda and get the “no Safebodas available” message I am inconvenienced. This is, however, something I am confident the Safeboda team is aware of and continuously working to improve.

Now that we have a better understanding of the customer pains gains and jobs I would like for anyone reading this to take some time and ask themselves the tough questions about their customer.

I will stop at this point for now but join me next time to go even deeper in knowing your customer through a structured framework outside rambling about customer pains, gains and jobs.


About Michelle

Michelle is a freelance writer for Newslibre and is part of the Global Writer Initiative launched this year to help spread informative content across the globe. She has written once or twice for Newslibre but only recently decided to merge her skill set with her passion which is seeing African entrepreneurs rise to the top of the food chain. Welcome to the first of hopefully many sessions on tips you can use to grow your startup.

You can follow Michelle on Twitter @mishi254


Also read: SEO for Business: Why Local SEO Matters

Understanding The Customer Journey and Why Its Important 1

Author: Michelle Mboha

Michelle is an economist, early stage business adviser and a human rights advocate. She is also a guest writer for Newslibre.


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