Successful enterprises understand that positive customer experiences are crucial to the success of their business. The way they think about their customer experience profoundly impacts how they enhance their product and service portfolios, retention rate, and ROI.
However, a poor experience is the greatest dissuasion for any customer, leading to decreased customer loyalty and higher customer churn. According to Salesforce research on the state of customer experience, 62% of customers say they share bad experiences with others. That same study also showed that 72% of customers create brand advocacy by sharing their positive experiences.
It is crucial to get your CX journey right the first time. To understand what a good customer experience entails, let’s look under the hood of customer journey stages and why they are critical to your bottom line.
A customer journey pertains to the steps taken and emotions felt by a customer as they move towards purchasing your product or service. During the customer journey, customers have goals, expect outcomes, and should develop an emotional response from those outcomes.
For example, if the product or service does not align with their goals, they may not embark on the customer journey that you worked so hard to establish. Where the outcome differs from what is expected, they may feel betrayed or at the very least dissatisfied.
A comprehensive solution proposition is the best indicator to customers as far as whether it will meet their goals or not. Similarly, the solution should have a real-world representation rather than exaggerated claims, so that it meets customer expectations across every touchpoint.
Balancing these aspects will increase the likelihood of a positive and repeatable customer buying experience. To see how each customer journey stage presents an opportunity to provide better service to your customers, here is an example of a San Francisco apartment leasing journey:
There are distinct stages in which your potential customer needs to be guided through to increase the likelihood they buy into your product or service. Let’s explore the five main stages of the customer journey and the questions that may arise:
Stage 1: Moment of Awareness
We start with the awareness stage. Here, the customer does not yet know that your company or product exists. This is where first impressions are key to creating a positive and lasting effect on the customer. This should be the primary goal of your marketing efforts.
During the awareness stage, be sure the following questions are clearly defined:
What is the product?
What does it do?
What else does your company do?
Is your company trustworthy?
These are all questions potential customers ask themselves — either consciously or unconsciously — that contribute to the development of brand awareness. The best option here is creating a buyer persona to help you to relate to and understand your ideal customers.
Once buyer personas are established, it will be easier to create specialized marketing collaterals in the form of:
Offering Fact Sheets / Brochures
Blog Posts / White Papers
PR / Media Articles
Drip EDM Content
Stage 2: Time for Consideration
In the consideration stage, the customer already knows your company and product. If there is customer interest, this is where you demonstrate the value of the product or service and demonstrate why your solution is better than the competition.
In the consideration stage, customers may ask themselves:
Can this solution improve my life in some way?
Will I get more work done faster using this solution?
Do I really need this solution?
Do I already have something similar?
During the consideration stage, marketers can provide educational content to demonstrate knowledge and expertise and convince customers towards commitment. Educational content may consist of the following:
Offering FAQ / Pricing Sheet
Success Cases / Case Studies
Testimonials / Endorsements
Webinar / Webcast / Demo Video
Stage 3: Committing to a Purchase
Your prospects are now aware of your product and have deemed it valuable. Now, they are ready to commit to making a purchase. All the previous marketing promises, sales rep rapport, and satisfaction with the journey will dictate whether they follow through.
In the commitment stage, customers may ask themselves:
Is this really the right product?
Should I check competitors to see if there is a better deal?
The price is a little higher than I’d like, should I wait for a discount?
This is where brand trust breaks and doubt creeps in. Nudging new customers to commit to a purchase is an important part of the customer journey. Organizations should provide answers to these questions in the form of price matching and price and quality guarantees to minimize purchase hesitation.
Stage 4: Keep Them Around with Customer Retention
You have the customer, now you must have a plan to keep the customer. This is called retention. Perhaps the customer slowly stops logging into a web app, before cancelling their subscription. How do you keep this customer engaged and subscribed?
Customer retention requires frequent engagement via email or other social media channels, as well as maintenance of product or service value over time. Product value can ebb and flow with market forces, such as when the competition releases a better product, reducing the relative value of your own. Customer needs can also change, meaning a product that was once valuable to them no longer is.
The best way to drive customer retention is continuous service improvement, regular engagement with customers, and responsive customer support. This creates a good user experience that consumers will want to return to.
Stage 5: Great Journeys Lead to Advocacy
You got the customer, and you managed to keep them happy and engaged over time. This may lead to a final stage called customer advocacy, whereby the customer talks positively about your product or service to their friends, family, and co-workers.
An excellent customer journey can lead to free marketing via word of mouth. Advocacy is much more powerful than marketing advertisements due to interpersonal trust.
Another way to drive advocacy is through affiliate schemes. Better known as paid advocacy, this leads to referrals from people in return for a reward. However, organic advocacy is still the best end state, as these customers require no engagement to share your product or service, and their words are genuine.
Also Read: Salesforce Integrations
Trianz offers dedicated CX journey mapping services to visualize and clarify your customer journey. Our customer journey mapping strategists can help you build positive opinions, understand customer perceptions, and target the right areas of the CX journey to accelerate business growth. The result is up to 25 times more customer lifetime value, bolstering your bottom line in the long term.
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