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Industry Insights

Stages of the Customer Journey: From Discovery to Purchase to Advocacy

By OSG Team on August 12, 2021

The customer journey describes the full experience, from beginning to end, that customers have with a specific product or service. Based on a given customer’s needs, they may start by searching based on a specific need, or they may start by looking into a product or business that they have heard of, to decide how to fulfill their current need. This journey, from exploration to eventual purchase to advocacy, comprises the full customer journey, but according to the Harvard Business Review, “There is no single right way to create a customer journey,” and we totally agree. It can be split in a variety of ways and is a powerful tool for understanding all opportunities for a business to engage with a potential or current customer. 

Five Stages to the Customer Journey 

1. Discovery 

In the modern business world, where customers can learn businesses online and in-person through various channels, as well as engage directly with businesses and products through digital and physical channels, discovery can take many shapes and forms. And a business’s reach might be much farther than anticipated, based on how news and information about it has spread. For example, while examining our own website traffic, we have found that there is one persistent backlink that always brings an occasional visitor or two to the OSG website from Quora. We cannot find where OSG Analytics is mentioned in Quora and we are not sure why this link has persisted over time, but nevertheless, we are somehow linked there. We hope that the odd visitor who comes here from the vast reaches of the internet finds useful information on our website. 

2. Research 

In terms of research, this stage comes when a customer knows what they want and are exploring the assorted options available to them before making a purchase. This can happen when making big or small purchases alike, because customers value distinct factors when it comes to committing to a purchase. With the power of the internet, visitors and potential customers can arrive at a business through a variety of routes, or through the numerous linkages that exist on the Internet. 

Once a visitor discovers a product or business that addresses a need they have been searching for, it may take little to no effort to get them to convert to purchase. On the other hand, they may discover a business but find some aspect lacking and continue their search after dismissing that business as an option. Creating a great first impression and building plenty of opportunities for potential customers to stumble upon or learn about your business is crucial for the customer journey to begin. 

3. Purchase 

Purchase itself is not always a simple decision or stage of the customer journey. With the variety of channels open for customers to purchase products and services by, making sure your business has a great face for each channel is vital to business growth. Whether they call, tweet, email, or walk in your doors, your business should be poised and ready for a purchase to happen, and actively nudge a potential customer to convert and make that final leap. This stage can be innovated by employees who have made the customer journey themselves, to understand what factors that preceded it drove them towards purchase. 

4. Usage 

Customer satisfaction with their purchased product or service paints their mental picture of how they remember the business they made the purchase from. The data from this stage can be crucial for product R&D and marketing departments, to show what is working well and what can be improved upon. And the community of customers who have purchased and experienced your business can help establish a connection and foster new customer relationships for your brand. Because everyone who talks to them about their purchase may have just started their own journey toward a purchase with your brand. And it would not have happened if the initial customer had not made a purchase and experienced your business. 

5. Advocacy 

Advocacy comes after a great customer experience. When a customer has such an impactful experience with a business and product that they become a vocal fan or advocate for the brand, you know you have succeeded as a business owner. These satisfied customers increase the number of potential customers who hear about your brand, starting the customer journey all over again with new visitors to your business. And customers who are so happy that they become your advocates usually end up becoming repeat customers for your brand, only building upon your bottom line. 

Applying Customer Journey Mapping to Your Business 

Customer Journey Mapping is the customer experience method of understanding and analyzing every step along the journey to find opportunities for growth, change, and innovation. A business can learn a great deal by understanding how and where potential or current customers come across their products. Identifying all touchpoints that customers have with the business and offerings allows the strategic minds at the brand to understand all possibilities for growth and expansion when it comes to building a customer base. 

How OSG Can Help You Connect to Customers 

Our entire business and methodology centers around our clients’ customers and understanding their needs, nowhere more than with our OSG o360 solution for customer journey mapping. By understanding the full picture of the customer journey, we can help our clients understand all opportunities for innovation and growth. This way, they can focus on dreaming big dreams and we can help back up their strategies and ideas with customer-centric data that shows the best decisions and directions to move in for the future. Understanding your historical and current data to make current plans is not enough. That data needs to help support decisions and planning for the future to best foster business growth.