How The Customer Journey Has Shifted

The Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to operate in a different way, whilst some places were forced to shut, changed the customer journey indefinitely. Customer behaviours changed and e-commerce businesses began to reap the rewards of increased online activity. 

However, the change in customer journeys has been underway for some time; with customers now in charge of their own journeys. From the products that are purchased, to the way they are purchased, the customer journey has changed from what it once was. 

Customers can now decide how they want to interact, explore and choose a brand. Consumers are still seeking the best deals, but they are also seeking a more somewhat complex and exciting experience.  As a result in a shift in consumer behaviour, the need to create a realised end-to-end customer journey was born. 

As we’ve seen an increase the number of e-commerce websites over the past year, we have also seen the increase in attempt to implement high-quality personalised experiences. Building brand loyalty is the end goal when strategizing the customer journey. Brands are personalising their content, but what separates the best from the rest is: how well you’re doing it. The reliance on digital is now huge. 

The traditional customer journey 

Brand-name familiarity was the main element with the traditional customer journey. The customer would begin with a range of options; and would then arrive at their final choice by a process of elimination. 

As explained using the Traditional Decision Funnel (Credit: McKinsey & Co.), it’s a direct step from deciding which brand you’re familiar with to considering possible options and then purchasing the product. With this particular model, the competition was narrowed down by popularity. 

Introducing a more ‘complex’ customer journey  

Explained using The New Customer Decision Journey (Credit: McKinsey & Co.), there is a loop which is triggered by their final purchase. Consumers are now conducting their own research and asking for referrals, rather than relying on marketing messages to persuade them to buy. 

The main difference between the Traditional Decision Funnel and the new Customer Decision Journey is that there is no longer a process of success with the new model. Once the consumer purchases a product, the loop restarts. Someone may purchase a pair of trainers, but that will not stop them from looking at alternatives and reviews. The reason why carts are abandoned at the last minute is because consumers begin Googling alternatives and discard their initial purchase. 

Clare Dorrian, CMO at SugarCRM, believes that there will be a permanent shift in the way consumers shop, highlighting personalisation as a key factor. 

“The customer journey has changed dramatically, most notably with longer sales cycles and an increased reliance on digital. 

"These changes mark a permanent shift that makes empathy and personalization the hallmarks of the new customer experience.” 

Consistent messaging throughout the pandemic, with email marketing being targeted as a main communication channel, is set to continue. 

“Customers expect brands to be consistent in their actions and authentic in their intentions. The current environment increases the expectation for empathy and authenticity, and when brands get it right and stay true to themselves, customers respond with increased loyalty,” Clare Dorrian said.