June 15, 2020

Moving from ‘there is nothing I need right now to make a purchase (online or offline) involves a journey. While that journey may vary from market to market, product to product, circumstance to circumstance and individual to individual, at least in so far as an initial purchase is concerned, it involves stages as follows:

  • Need (or want) recognition or desire.
  • Researching the options.
  • Evaluating the options.
  • Purchase decision.
  • Post purchase behaviour.

Together these stages highlight in the broadest of terms the journey the customer travels. It also suggests that there are numerous opportunities along the journey to influence the final decision of a potential customer. They can be influenced to recognise a need, consider information favourable to a brand, evaluate the options using favourable criteria, make the decision that favours a brand and then repeat purchase or refer. The points at which influence can be exerted are ‘tough points’ and it is not surprisingly important to understand these touchpoints and how best to leverage them.

Collectively these touchpoints might be considered – the ‘customer experience’. If common sense is not enough, research points to the importance of that customer experience:

  • 80% of businesses with an optimal customer experience outperform those without.
  • 84% of businesses improving the customer experience report increased revenue.
  • 74% of businesses with an above average customer experience perform better.

And from the customers perspective…….

  • 73% say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties.
  • 77% say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
  • 86% of customers say they will pay more for a good experience.

Very importantly, customer experience directly impacts referral rates with research finding that:

  • 62% of customers say they share bad experiences with other people.
  • 64 % of consumers are likely to recommend a brand with simpler experiences.
  • 71% of people recommend a product or service because they received a “great experience”.

The customer experience is equally important offline and online – and in the omnichannel experience. Some 90% of marketers in one study highlighted the importance of the customer experience across channels. So, what are the features of a good customer experience that can and will please customers and most importantly – influence them to purchase a brand? Here are some:

  • Demonstrating a clear understanding of the customer’s needs (with 76% of customers expecting brands to demonstrate an understanding of their needs)
  • Easy access to information across all platforms used by the consumer (but only 22% of consumers think mobile experience is good)
  • A high-quality personalised experience instore (while 53% of millennials feel that instore staff lack the tools they need)
  • A personalised experience when making telephone enquiries (67% of customers report hanging up on an automated system)
  • Creating a sense of customer connection and significance (with 84% of customers expecting to be treated like a person, not a number)
  • A real focus on building a relationship (with good customer experience providers devoting 36% more time to this issue)

There are many actions that businesses can take to ensure a high-quality customer experience that enables the business to influence the customer or potential customer at each touchpoint along the journey – and the benefits of doing so are plain to see. Before any thought is given to promotion, the focus needs to be on maximising the lifetime value of each customer and enquirer – and doing this requires an understanding of the customer journey, the various touchpoints along that journey – and how to influence the enquirer or customer positively at each touchpoint. The customer experience needs to be pleasant for the customer – but it must also be revenue-driving for the business.

Understand the journey your customer takes – online and offline and develop strategies that engage customers and potential customers while influencing them to purchase your brand. If you have any doubts about the merits of this approach, consider these research findings:

  • 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain – 91% will simply leave and never return.
  • 33% of Americans say they may switch brand after just a single instance of poor service.
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to compensate for one unresolved negative experience.

Now more than at any time in history, it is essential for businesses to get closer to the customer, understand and then leverage their online and offline journey.

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