The customer journey in your creative business: 6 main steps to get right

Designing your business systems can give you clarity in many areas and identify what steps you are missing or need to improve. The key is to keep things simple. The core of your business is your customer journey, so that’s what you should focus on. You and your team may have many ideas on new ways to improve the journey, but it is important to look at the following six main steps when shaping it.

Be open minded and don’t rush into the common thinking that your business is different, so these steps don’t apply. Yes, you have your unique selling points, but all businesses are the same at the core.

Step 1: Capture

This refers to the different ways you capture a prospective customer’s attention and data. How do people contact you? Can they find your number easily? Do you have it on banners, catalogues, cards, your website, etc?

There are several ways for prospects to contact you nowadays and this step is about identifying these ways. Is it by phone, email or contact form? If you are local, you might even have people showing up at your factory or shop.

From the moment a customer has contacted you, they can be divided into two categories: ready to buy and leads (which can be further divided into warm/ cold leads). The journey for these two types of customers is different and it’s crucial to understand which category each customer falls into.

Step 2: Sales

You are now visible to your customer. Pat yourself on the back as this is good news. Ready-to-buy customers take direct action to contact you with specific questions and start your sales journey.

Depending on how a customer contacts you initially, you generally respond through the same channel. Each channel will collect some details, but ultimately, the sales process will lead to a discovery call where the customer will go over the worries or needs they have (their pain points). You then prepare a proposal and a quote, if you can offer a viable solution or direct them to your website. Finally, you prepare an invoice and organise a payment transaction with the customer.

Step 3: Production

This is the fun part where your team needs to be tuned in and ready to deliver a quality product. Depending on your brand, this may involve an artwork studio, sourcing, cutting, sewing, folding or any other kind of producing. Identify your production areas and group them depending on your teams of employees.

Step 4: Delivery

Making the delivery of your product a world-class experience deserves its own step. You could deliver it in person, by mail, digitally or by customer collection. In each of these instances, make the experience as wonderful and painless as possible.

Step 5: After sales

You have made a sale, but this is not the end of the journey. There may be returns (depending on your business’s services) due to faults or unhappy customers. There may be issues with the delivery or the product itself. Hopefully, in most cases, the sale will be successful, and you will receive a shining review from the customer.

Step 6: Follow up

This final step on the customer journey is often left out, but it is crucial to your business. After the sale, nurture the client and work towards a repeat order. If you don’t have this step in your business yet, then this is something that can be implemented through the right marketing strategy.

The importance of having a system

Processes, procedures or systems: they go by many names, but at their core is a series of simple steps that you and your employees follow to get a predictable outcome with no fail. We all use systems in our daily lives and our businesses, even if we are not aware of them.

Whether it’s the system you use to hire new staff or the way your employees request stock, do not underestimate the importance of consistency. Your customers expect the same steps, service and quality every time. Imagine going to your favourite restaurant where the service is usually next to perfection, but this time it is poor. This would likely leave you with a negative emotional connection to the experience that will prevent you from rushing back. No matter how connected you are to a brand, one bad experience can be all it takes to put you off.

You can only improve what you can measure, so to improve performance and achieve extraordinary results, you need to equip yourself and your team with reliable systems. Systems will allow your business to not only improve your customer journey, but also achieve sustainable growth and become scalable, and something a lot of entrepreneurs miss is that systems also make your company saleable.

This is an adapted extract from Design & Grow by Artemis Doupa.