Customer Journey: The 6 Phases

Von Lynn
am 27.04.23
As a rule, a customer does not decide to make a purchase immediately. Rather, he embarks on a journey, the so-called customer journey. The customer journey forms an important basis for planning and implementing communication with potential and existing customers and is therefore a good starting point for building a customer-centric marketing strategy. This is exactly why we explain the 6 phases of a classic customer journey in more detail.

What is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey shows the journey of a (potential) customer. It consists of various phases, starting with the first contact and ending with a purchase or a comparable, predefined action (e.g., subscribing to a newsletter, registering on a customer portal, or filling out a form). Along the customer journey, all touchpoints between the customer and the company or brand are mapped. Depending on the customer, industry, or product, the journey can extend over a few hours, days, or even weeks.
The classic customer journey models consist of 5 to 6 phases and are mostly based on the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), which dates back to the early days of marketing. However, this model is based on the assumption that the journey is completed with the purchase (action). Today, however, there is widespread agreement that the journey continues after that. Ideally, it is even understood as a repeating cycle, in which the customer is not lost sight of beyond the conclusion of the purchase.
However, the classic models can also be expanded and individual phases can be broken down in even greater detail. For example, the customer journey model from Aufgesang consists of seven phases.

Customer Journey 6 phases:

  • Phase 1: Awareness
  • Phase 2: Consideration
  • Phase 3: Conversion
  • Phase 4: Onboarding
  • Phase 5: Retention
  • Phase 6: Advocacy

Phase 1: Awareness

The first phase of the Customer Journey is about raising awareness of a product or service and gaining the customer’s attention. A person perceives a need or a problem and goes in search of a solution. In the process, they encounter products or services for the first time that could be a solution for them. The search is usually conducted either on the Internet or by asking friends or acquaintances.

Possible touchpoints at this stage include:

  • Search engines
  • PR measures
  • Print media
  • Advertisements
  • Trade fairs
  • Word-of-mouth/recommendations

The aim of this phase is therefore primarily to attract the attention of potential customers. Online, for example, this means bringing potential customers to the landing page and generating leads. However, the main focus is not on making an immediate sale, but on providing potential customers with initial information.
It is important to refer to possible needs or problems of the customers and not to focus on the product or the solution. So you should also provide customers who are still in the initial phase with content that shows them their needs or pain points in the first place.

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Phase 2: Consideration

Now that a person is aware of his or her needs, he or she actively sets out to find a solution. Detailed information is needed for this. Research is conducted, offers are evaluated, compared and filtered, and a closer relationship to the brand is established. The focus on the solution is now more in-depth and no longer so broad.

Possible touchpoints at this stage include:

  • Own website
  • Forums and comparison portals
  • Social media
  • POS
  • Customer service
  • Trade magazine
For companies, it is important in this phase to strengthen interest. Customers must be accompanied on their way to a decision and provided with targeted information. Marketing automation can be used, for example, to provide the customer with the right content at the right time.

Phase 3: Conversion

The decision has been made. The prospect’s goal is now to obtain the selected product or service as easily as possible and at a good price. To do this, they look for detailed product information, price lists, dealer directories, opening hours or even personal advice. It is therefore important to provide detailed information. Test phases or demo versions can be particularly helpful here.
If this experience is positive, the conversion takes place and the prospect becomes a customer.

Eine verbesserte CX beeinflusst unter anderem die Kundenbindung, Preis- und Zahlungsbereitschaft, Cross- und Upselling und Empfehlungen positiv. Parallel dazu sinken die Abwanderungsrate und die Kundenservice-Kosten.

Possible touchpoints at this stage include:

  • Own website
  • E-mail
  • Online-Shop
  • App
  • Personal consultation/salesperson
  • POS

It is particularly important here to ensure simple purchase processing. The purchase must be executable with just a few clicks and possible barriers should be reduced to a minimum. For example, flawless payment processing including a wide range of payment options must be guaranteed.
Important: The journey is not over with the purchase!

Phase 4: Onboarding

Onboarding marks the beginning of a very important phase that is often neglected. In this phase, the power relationship between buyer and seller changes. The customer has made his decision and you, as the provider, must now show him that he has made the right decision. After the purchase has been made, the customer is most receptive to information. It is therefore a good idea to provide him with information about the product or its use. This phase is also ideal for cross-selling and/or upselling activities.

Possible touchpoints at this stage include:

  • Personal mail
  • Customer portal
  • Packaging
The goal is for the customer to be satisfied with their decision and to be delighted with the entire buying experience. If this is the case, the customer is more likely to recommend you to others. A well-organised and managed onboarding phase has been proven to increase customer satisfaction.

Phase 5: Retention

The customer has now received the product or service. The task now is to bind him to the brand and make him a returning customer. Individual follow-up and first-class customer service can help to meet or even exceed expectations. This allows a seamless transition to the loyalty phase.
In this phase, the customer therefore expects above all immediate and competent support in the event of questions or uncertainties.

Possible touchpoints at this stage include:

  • Customer service
  • Support/call center
  • Personal mail/call
Maintaining existing customer relationships is of great importance. Not least because acquiring new customers is usually much more difficult and, above all, more cost-intensive than retaining existing customers.

Phase 6: Advocacy

In the advocacy phase, the customer shares his experience with others. If he is convinced of his purchase, he is likely to buy again and there is also the possibility that he will give positive reviews or recommendations. The customer can thus become a kind of brand ambassador for the product or brand. User-generated content is one of the most effective online marketing measures. The recommendations in turn bring new potential customers into the journey. This is why it is particularly advisable to reward recommendations in this phase, for example with the help of a points system.
The ultimate goal is to turn the customer into a fan.

Possible touchpoints at this stage include:

  • Social media
  • Blog
  • Forums
  • Newsletter

The 6 phases of the Customer Journey: An example

To illustrate the phases and for better understanding, we will now show you a highly simplified example of a Customer Journey. The example is about a shoe purchase.

Phase 1: Awareness

Anna is a passionate runner and goes jogging at least twice a week. When she was jogging with a colleague the other day, she noticed that she had new running shoes with special cushioning. Since she herself has had problems with her joints for a long time, she asks her colleague about the quality and price of the shoes.

Phase 2: Consideration

Once home, Anna sits down at her laptop and does some research. Among other things, she comes across her colleague’s shoes. However, she also looks at other models and compares them with each other.

Phase 3: Conversion

She decides on a model – not the same as that of her colleague. After she has decided, she looks for a supplier who offers the shoes at a reasonable price. She decides to order the shoes online from a sports retailer. She decides to pay via invoice and enters her shipping address as well as the billing address.

Phase 4: Onboarding

Following the order, Anna receives a confirmation email. A few days later, she receives the latest newsletter, which contains information about jogging. Again, a few days later, the package with the shoes arrives at Anna’s home. In addition to the shoes, the elegant packaging also contains a sheet of vouchers for related product categories.

Phase 5: Retention

After receiving the package, Anna receives a personal email. In it, she is asked questions about the satisfaction of her recently purchased shoes. After completing them, she receives a 10% coupon for her next purchase.

Phase 6: Advocacy

The first few weeks with the new shoes have passed. Anna is very happy with her purchase. The running shoes are not only stylish, but also extremely comfortable and her joint complaints have decreased noticeably. So the purchase was a complete success. Because of this, Anna decides to leave a review on the sports retailer’s website. Anna has definitely become a fan of the brand and will certainly buy products from this brand again.

Beispiele für schlechte Customer Experience

Ganzheitliche Erfahrung

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Verstehen des großen Ganzen

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Beispiele für gute Customer Experience


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The classic customer journey consists of five to six phases. It begins with the awareness phase, in which the aim is to generate attention and make contact with potential customers for the first time. The focus here is not yet on direct sales. In the second phase, the Consideration phase, customers actively search for offers and evaluate them. It is therefore important to increase interest and support customers in the decision-making process. The decision is then made in the conversion phase. Now, it is important to make the purchase process as easy as possible and to reduce potential barriers to a minimum. But remember: the journey doesn’t end with the conclusion of the purchase! It continues with the onboarding phase, a very crucial phase for customer satisfaction. This is the phase between purchase and receipt. The aim here is to give customers the feeling that they have made the right decision. The retention phase is then about retaining customers and offering them support when needed. Finally, there is the advocacy phase, in which customers ideally become fans and make recommendations. The post-conversion phases are particularly important, as acquiring new customers is much more time-consuming and costly than retaining customers who have already been acquired.

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