Customer Journey vs. Customer Experience: Key Differences

Bishakh Dutta

Jayadeep Subhashis

June 13, 202411 min read

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The terms 'customer journey' and 'customer experience' are often used interchangeably in the customer service landscape. Yet beneath the apparent similarity lies a crucial distinction with significant implications for a company's profitability and reputation.   

In this blog, customer journey vs. customer experience, learn the subtle disparity between the two and the symbiotic relationship. Discover strategies to integrate them seamlessly for optimal customer engagement and business success. 

Table of Contents

Customer journey: Meaning and stages 

A customer journey is the series of interactions between customers and businesses, mapping the various customer touchpoints of their engagement. Think of it as a roadmap. It outlines a customer's steps or interactions when engaging with your brand. These include:  

Step 1: Awareness 

In the awareness phase, the customer identifies a problem and seeks a solution. On the other hand, you focus on gathering information and building trust rather than hard selling during this stage. The objective is to answer customers' questions and gain their trust. You can gather information such as: 

  • Customer demography: Collect details like name, age and location. 
     

  • Source of awareness: Determine how the customer learned about your brand. Was it through family and friends, word-of-mouth, social networks or advertising campaigns

  • Pain points and challenges: Identify the specific problems and challenges the customer is facing. 
     

  • Content and engagement: Identify the content that best engages the audience and the best platforms for sharing it. 

Step 2: Contemplation 

At this stage, customers know they need or desire something but have not yet decided. They actively research, read reviews, compare pricing and evaluate different options, including your products/services and competitors. This is the ideal stage to position yourself as the better alternative. 

Highlight your product or service's unique features and benefits, demonstrating why it's the best choice. Equally important is to address customer concerns and provide relevant information, as this builds trust and guides them to choose your brand over competitors. Utilize testimonials, detailed comparisons and value propositions to showcase why your solution is exceptional. 

Step 3: Decision 

In this stage, you must communicate with customers proactively to reinforce their decisions. It includes sending reminders, sharing positive reviews from other customers via email or WhatsApp or providing additional information to support their choice. This can help your customers feel confident in their decision, reaffirming their choice and strengthening their commitment to your product or service. 

Step 4: Purchase 

At this stage, you must focus on understanding customers' behavior and preferences. During the purchase process, consider your client's preferred purchasing channel (online, in-store or via mobile app), payment preferences (credit/debit card, mobile payment solutions) and customer support expectations (prompt assistance, omnichannel customer service, shipping information, etc.).  

It is important to have all this information at your fingertips. It gives you an idea of your customers' preferred mode of purchase and lets you personalize customer experiences when they make a repeat purchase. 

Step 5: Onboarding 

It is important to provide personalized experiences during onboarding by customizing it to meet each customer's needs. This may involve offering tutorials, walkthroughs or one-on-one sessions to help customers effectively use your products.  

During this stage, you can actively request feedback on the purchasing experience through customer surveys, follow-up emails or in-app prompts. Additionally, you can provide proactive customer service and guidance throughout the onboarding process by offering resources such as FAQs, troubleshooting guides or dedicated customer service channels to assist them if they encounter any challenges. 

Step 6: Post-purchase experience 

Beyond purchasing, you should prioritize ongoing support and feedback to nurture lasting relationships. You can offer accessible help desks and deploy contact centers to address inquiries promptly.    

To enhance customer experience and loyalty, you can empower customers with tools and resources, such as user guides and online forums. You can also actively seek feedback through surveys and social channels to demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement. This can help strengthen your customer relationships. 

Step 7: Retention 

Retaining customers is crucial as satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat buyers, driving long-term revenue and profitability. Besides, acquiring a new client costs 5 to 6 times more than reactivating an existing one.    

To encourage customer loyalty you can offer loyalty programs and incentives for repeat purchases and create a knowledge base for ongoing support.  

You can also build customer retention strategies and offer proactive customer care to maximize the customer lifetime value and ensure sustainable business growth. 

Step 8: Advocacy 

Customers evolve into powerful brand advocates in the advocacy stage, actively promoting your business to others. Leveraging these advocates enhances your brand's reach and attracts new customers through authentic recommendations.    

You can nurture advocacy by expressing appreciation for loyal customers, fostering a sense of community and actively engaging with them on social platforms. Building strong relationships with brand advocates can build brand loyalty and create a network of enthusiastic promoters for your business. 

Deep Dive: Listen, Learn, Love: Steps to Driving Customer Advocacy 

Importance of customer journey 

Understanding how customers interact with a brand isn't always straightforward — it's often a complex, non-linear process. That's why customer journey mapping is crucial. It lets you capture every interaction, spot process gaps and improve customer satisfaction.  

By meticulously charting the customer journey, you gain consumer insights that can help enhance customer experiences and address service bottlenecks. This, in turn, boosts satisfaction and offers your brand a competitive edge in the market.  

With a clear understanding of customer behavior and preferences, you can create customer service strategies and experiences that set you apart from competitors. By continuously tracking and refining the customer journey, your brand stays in tune with evolving customer needs and preferences, driving long-term success.  

What is customer experience? 

Customer experience (CX) encompasses every customer interaction with a company, from initial awareness and engagement to post-purchase support and beyond. It encapsulates your customers' perceptions, feelings and attitudes throughout their journey with your brand.  

The comprehensive perspective considers direct end-user engagements, such as customers browsing your website or contacting a contact center agent. It also includes broader factors such as your brand's reputation, product quality and ability to deliver consistent customer communication across all touchpoints. 

Must Read: 7 Customer Experience Trends for Businesses in 2024 

Importance of customer experience 

The evolution of customer experience (CX) as a key differentiator today has been propelled by several factors, notably the digital revolution and the rise of social media.  

With the advent of the internet and mobile technologies, customers have unprecedented access to information and choices, making switching brands easier. Social media amplifies the voice of the customer, where positive or negative experiences can reach thousands instantly.  

Additionally, heightened competition and globalization have pushed companies to differentiate themselves beyond product features and pricing. As a result, delivering exceptional CX has become essential for building loyalty, fostering positive word-of-mouth and sustaining a competitive edge in today's fast-paced, customer-centric market.  

Customer journey vs. Customer experience: 10 key differences 

It's important to distinguish between customer journey and experience, as understanding can empower you to strategically improve satisfaction trends and optimize experience throughout the customer lifecycle. 

Aspect 

Customer journey 

Customer experience 

Definition 

The entire sequence of customer interactions with a brand, from awareness to advocacy 

The customer's overall perception and feelings towards a brand after all interactions. 

Focus 

The series of steps and interactions a customer goes through 

The emotional and psychological outcomes of those interactions 

Scope 

Broad, covering each phase of the customer's engagement with the brand 

Deep, focusing on the conversation quality and customer sentiment 

Measurement 

Quantifiable customer engagement metrics such as conversion rates, time spent and engagement levels 

Qualitative assessments like customer satisfaction, net promoter score and sentiment analysis

Objective 

To map and understand the path customers take with a brand 

To gauge and improve how customers feel about their interactions with the brand 

Control 

Brands have direct control over designing and optimizing the journey 

Brands influence but cannot control customer perceptions and feelings 

Management 

Involves operational planning and execution to streamline processes 

Requires strategic efforts to evoke positive emotions and satisfaction 

Improvement focus 

Enhancing touchpoints and interactions to make the journey seamless 

Elevating the emotional connection and satisfaction with the brand  

Desired outcome 

A well-designed journey leads to efficient and effective customer engagement 

A positive experience results in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty 

Feedback 

Obtained through customer service analytics and behavioral data to refine the journey 

Gathered directly from customers through surveys and feedback channels to understand their experience 

How to integrate customer journey and customer experience 

Integrating the customer journey with customer experience (CX) is crucial for companies aiming to provide seamless, end-to-end interactions that delight customers and drive business success. Here’s how to achieve this integration effectively:  

Align customer journeys with personas 

To begin with, you need to identify different customer personas and create a detailed customer journey map. This map should outline every touchpoint each persona has with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase support. The importance of a comprehensive map cannot be overstated; it illuminates the critical moments of truth where customer experience can be enhanced or potential pitfalls may occur.  

For instance, mapping the journey allows a retail company to identify that customers often abandon their online shopping carts due to a complicated checkout process. Recognizing this, the company can streamline checkout, reduce steps and improve the overall experience. Sharing this map across all departments ensures a unified approach, making everyone aware of their role in delivering a superior CX. This alignment fosters collaboration and ensures that efforts to improve the customer experience are consistent and comprehensive. 

Spotify Customer journey map

💡 Pro Tip: Regularly update your buyer personas and customer journey maps to reflect evolving customer behaviors and preferences. Use customer interaction analytics, feedback and market research to ensure your marketing efforts and experiences remain relevant and impactful for each persona. 

Understand the unspoken 

Customers don't just buy products or services; they seek solutions to their immediate needs. However, as a brand, it is important to discern the underlying pain points or motivations that drive customer behavior. Understanding these unspoken aspects allows you to tailor your offerings to meet customer expectations and enhance satisfaction.   

For instance, when purchasing an OTT subscription, customers might seek more than just access to OTT content. They may seek high-quality content, flexible viewing options and ad-free viewing experiences. You must try to go beyond customers' immediate requirements, delve into the underlying pain points and needs and tailor offerings accordingly. 

💡 Pro Tip: Leverage advanced social listening tools that allow you to uncover unspoken customer needs by diving deep into online reviews, social media conversations and customer support interactions. This wealth of information can be consistently analyzed to fine-tune your offerings, keeping you informed and equipped to better align with customer preferences. 

Break down silos 

Cross-functional collaboration is essential for integrating customer journey and CX. Promoting regular interdepartmental meetings where marketing, sales, customer service and product teams discuss customer insights and pain points can significantly enhance the customer experience.  

For example, when the sales team shares common customer objections with the product development team, it can lead to product improvements that address these concerns, thereby enhancing satisfaction. 

Breaking down silos ensures a cohesive strategy where every team understands their role in delivering a superior CX. This unified approach creates a seamless experience for customers, ensuring that their interactions with different departments feel connected and coherent. When departments work in isolation, the customer journey can become fragmented, leading to inconsistent experiences that may frustrate customers and undermine brand loyalty. 

Audit customer service workflow 

Auditing the customer service workflow involves examining the processes and systems that support end-to-end customer journeys. It includes assessing the efficiency of your customer service channels, the responsiveness of support teams and the effectiveness of problem resolution processes. By identifying bottlenecks, inefficiencies and pain points in the customer service workflow, you can enhance the overall customer experience. 

Leverage technology and data 

By utilizing advanced contact center analytics, you can gather and analyze customer data and gain real-time insights into customer behavior and preferences.   

Similarly, a contact center CRM system that tracks customer interactions across multiple contact center channels can help identify patterns and predict future behaviors, enabling more personalized and timely engagement. These data-driven insights enable personalized experiences and proactive customer support.  

Imagine a scenario where you identify a drop in engagement from a previously loyal customer. This triggers a personalized offer or a check-in call from customer service, addressing potential issues before they escalate. Turning raw data into actionable strategies enhances every stage of the customer journey, ensuring customers feel understood and valued. 

Establish a feedback loop 

Implementing a feedback loop involves actively soliciting customer feedback at various touchpoints throughout their journey. This feedback helps you make informed decisions and improve processes. By gathering conversational intelligence, you can identify areas for improvement and take proactive steps to address them.   

For example, after a customer interacts with a support agent, they may receive a follow-up email or survey asking about their experience. Analyzing this feedback allows you to identify areas for improvement, address concerns and measure the impact of changes over time. 

😊 Good to know  

Today, you can track customer feedback across conversations on over 30 digital and social channels — including voice — and enhance customer service with AI-powered CSAT predictions.  
 
Plus, you can automatically convert survey questions into conversations executed by chatbots, asking relevant questions to gather valuable feedback. Cool, right? 

Want to dive deeper? Learn more about our AI-powered omnichannel survey software that makes it all possible. 

Conversational survey with Sprinklr omnichannel survey software

Leverage customer emotional curve 

The customer emotional curve refers to the range of emotions customers experience at different stages of their journey with a brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase support. Mapping the emotional journey gives you deeper insights into customer sentiment. It lets you know how your clients feel and react at each stage — allowing you to tailor customer interactions accordingly. 

Consider the onboarding stage, where personalized welcome messages or tutorials can be sent to new customers. This approach not only helps them get started but also alleviates any anxiety or uncertainty they may have, thereby enhancing their overall experience. 


Good Read:
Understanding the Science of Emotions Can Make You Better at Customer Experience  


How boAt integrated customer journey and customer experience with Sprinklr 

 

In 2021, boAt, a leading audio and tech wearable brand in India, embarked on a digital transformation journey to enhance its customer journey and experience by implementing Sprinklr. With a mission to make consumer electronics fashionable and affordable, boAt placed customers at the center of its strategy.  

Sprinklr's unified platform enabled boAt to listen and engage in brand-relevant conversations, streamline customer service operations and create a holistic, end-to-end customer journey. By leveraging Sprinklr Insights and Sprinklr Service, boAt improved the quality and speed of customer interactions. Sprinklr’s AI-powered tools provided real-time insights and workflow transparency, allowing the customer experience team to identify and resolve issues efficiently across all touchpoints.

Unify customer journeys and deliver superior CX with Sprinklr Service 

Bridging the gap between understanding detailed customer interactions and rolling out holistic strategies has always been a tough nut to crack for businesses. The main hurdles? Siloed data, antiquated systems and lack of a unified platform.  

Enter Sprinklr Service. Built on the world’s only Unified-CXM platform, it brings all interactions into one place for a 360-degree view of your customers. It speeds up issue resolution and eliminates the need for multiple-point solutions.  

Plus, with Sprinklr, you can optimize customer journeys with data-driven insights and enhance customer experiences to boost loyalty. Sprinklr AI+ and real-time analytics help you understand and anticipate customer needs, ensuring every interaction is smooth and satisfying.  

Sign up for a demo of Sprinklr Unified-CXM today and discover new ways to elevate your brand’s customer journey and experience.  


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