When Do Your Customer Journeys Actually Begin?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on August 24, 2023

I have two friends who have walked the Camino del Santiago. The friends are Peter Schwartz, who is my business coach, and Gordon Bernhardt, a member of my CEO peer group. Both of them did the French route, which takes you from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. It’s a 500-mile journey that you do on foot over 30 to 35 days.

My friend Gordon’s journey began when he walked out of his hotel room in France and started his Camino journey. He said something really interesting to me when I was talking to him about the Camino. He said, “Joanna, back in the day, if you were a pilgrim a couple of hundred years ago, your journey actually began when you walked out of your house in Germany or some other part of Europe, wherever you might have been.”

Joanna Pineda and Gordon Bernhardt
Joanna with Gordon and his book, Buen Camino

This comment from Gordon got me thinking. I am in the business of helping associations and nonprofits create amazing member journeys. My company creates online shopping carts, online meeting registration forms, resource centers, etc. All of my clients are concerned with creating seamless and effective customer journeys so that their members and non-members find what they’re looking for, purchase the items they’re looking for from the store, or register to attend a conference or seminar.

The question is: when do these customer journeys begin? Do they begin with the customer at the point of registering for a meeting or at the point of adding something to the shopping cart? Or do they begin when the customer starts with a Google search, clicks on a link in an email, or has a conversation with a friend about something that they might need?

I believe that we all need to think of these customer journeys as starting much, much earlier. When a person ultimately registers for a conference, that attendee journey probably started days, weeks, or even months before the actual registration. It started when they had a conversation with their boss, did a Google search, or visited the website.

When thinking about your customer journeys, ask yourself and your web team: 

And even though you may not have complete control over the platforms they start their journey on – Google, email, social media, etc. – there are things you can do to make those touch points better. For example, to improve the journey from search to your store you can: 

When we do these things, we make it easier for Google to find our products and also make it easier for the site search to find products.

The next time you’re thinking about a product or service that your organization has to offer, think about the customer journey and when exactly those journeys begin. 

Chances are you need to go much, much earlier in the process to make that journey better for your customers.

Need help rethinking and retooling your member journeys? Let’s talk! We’d love to help.

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