No organisation ever converts all its prospects or retains all its customers.  We all lose business. The question is how much effort should we put into trying to win it back?  What actions should we take in rescuing customer journeys that are reaching a dead end?

I read a great blog post yesterday from Wootric on mapping customer journeys.  The post highlights the benefits of doing mapping. It also gives useful examples of different ways to map journeys: linearly, using charts, by department, by need and using emotions.

The one important element that was missing, especially from the emotion and need maps, was rescuing customer journeys that are leading nowhere.

Business can be lost at any stage during a customer journey, for example:

  • an interested contact gets distracted and goes cold
  • a hot lead prefers a competitive offer
  • problems with a product make a customer angry
  • at renewal time, a customer received a better offer for switching to another supplier.

So we need to map different paths for rescuing customer journeys as shown on the diagram below:

Diagram of an ideal customer journey and 3 paths rescuing customer journeys

The black line and crosses indicate an ideal journey.  This is a smooth progression of increasingly positive emotions.  The prospect starts with disinterest since she is not aware of our brand, then moves through interest and satisfaction to delight and trust as she gains experience of our products and services.

Of course, the normal journey rarely goes so smoothly and every map will include actions to avoid customers become stuck at a certain stage.  There will be actions to listen, entertain, inform, question and reassure and make offers as customer emotions wobble up and down.

But what if there is a dramatic change of emotion?  What happens if a contact become uninterested, a prospect favours a competitor or a customer becones angry or disillusioned?

The diagram shows three example paths for rescuing customer journey:

  1. The green path: the prospective customer loses interest.  The rescue action here might be to ask her what benefit she is looking for from a solution like ours, then to  direct her towards material such as testimonials demonstrating that this benefit can be achieved
  2. The purple path: here the customer is angry due to some fault with our product.  So the rescue action might be to assign a specific customer service agent to deal with them.  The agent needs to have the authority to solve the problems.  Note that a successful resolution can often make the customer more satisfied than she was before.  She now trusts that we will solve any future problems that occur.
  3. The red path:  a case might be where a renewal is due and the customer is no longer sure she needs the product.  A rescue action could investigate what use is being made of the product and provide help for using it more fully in future.

As the examples show, the dramatic change of emotion may require rescue actions that are costly and require significant effort;  Will they be worth it?

We have to decide on a case by case basis.  The analysis should always take into account the value built up in the customer journey.  Even in the early stages it can be more cost-effective to nurture a contact who has shown interest rather than try to identify a new one.  As the journey progresses, relationships and understanding develop between us and the customer, increasing the value.  If the journey progresses to a sale, then customer satisfaction has a huge value in terms of our reputation and our repeat business.