When does the Customer Journey Begin?

By: Kate Zimmerman

May 18, 2016

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Customer experience management
programs have proven most successful when they are organization-wide initiatives. Every department from marketing to finance to sales to customer service needs to be driven towards delivering a better customer experience.

However, when we take a step back and look at a typical customer journey map, it often begins with or after the purchase of a product or service. This is shortsighted, though, and does not give you a full picture of your customer’s journey with your company.

The customer journey really begins when the customer first realizes a need for a product or service. You could even argue that it begins when a customer first becomes aware of a brand, since oftentimes brands are able to create a need. Given this, your journey map should actually begin with touchpoints initiated by your marketing team.

Since this is the case, it’s even more important than ever for each department within your organization to break down the silos and work together. For example, if marketing decides to come up with a fun gimmick to promote a new product or service, your sales team needs to make sure that they can deliver on this deal. And, your services or delivery departments need to make sure that this delivery is even possible or profitable.

Further down the line, the entire sales cycle needs to be part of your customer journey. If your sales team is pushy or unresponsive, they’re going to create a preconceived notion for the customer before they’ve even become a customer. The sales team needs to understand the customer beyond just a dollar amount. They need to be trained to accurately reflect the company and its values.

Once you’ve acquired this new customer, the journey can sometimes loop back to marketing. If your marketing team is blasting a new customer with the same “buy now” emails that they received as a prospect, you’re quickly going to find yourself with a very frustrated customer. Make sure that the customer’s record changes in your CRM system and that the messages they are receiving from your brand are around learning the product and updates to the product.

The focus on customer experience has driven home the idea that your business is no longer just about a product. It’s about the experience that that product creates. Your journey map needs to accurately reflect this and encompass every single interaction that each customer has with your brand—even before he or she is officially a customer. This will ensure your customers have smooth, consistent experiences with your brand throughout their entire lifecycle.

For more insights into using a journey map, download The Ultimate Guide to Customer Journey Mapping using the form on this page.


Kate Zimmerman is a Content Marketing Specialist at Clarabridge. Kate focuses on building content that supports CX efforts, product marketing, analyst relations, and has become an industry expert in Customer Experience Management. Kate holds a B.A in Politics from the University of Virginia and can be found on Twitter at @kmzimm.