The term “customer-centric approach” is certainly becoming a well-coined one; all kinds of businesses now know the importance of looking after their customer through every step of the journey – a journey that continues long after the actual purchase has been made.
As they, say your customers will become your best brand ambassadors – if you treat them right.
Luckily for us, there’s big data. Big data equips us with everything we need to understand the needs of the customer – as well as the potential barriers they face. A piece I read on Entrepreneur explains the basic stages nicely:
The customer becomes aware of your brand – either through some form of advertising or, more often than not (if its been a good experience), a recommendation from a colleague or friend. We know that especially in B2B that customers do their research on your product or service way before actually engaging with the brand, so the ability to analyse content uptake and other marketing strategies used means we can discover which channels are best at capturing their attention.
The customer has already started to do their homework; they are actively looking to learn about your brand, so now is the ideal moment to build trust and stand out from competitors. Customer personas come into their own here; because you know their goals, you know what information to provide them with to solve their issues – either through useful articles or guides that give them a clearer understanding of the product or service and how it may help them. It may also be time to get product descriptions, easy-to-access FAQ sections, live help or other services in front of them; through the analytics and use of data we can plan where and when to deliver these more in-depth pieces of information.
The end (although not actually the end)
This is the stage where the customer decides to go with your brand and commits to buy or get in touch. However, this is not really the end – regular communication and quality sales or customer service will ensure that you close the purchase with as much ease for the customer as possible. An aggressive sales person or unresponsive/unhelpful customer services person can ruin this critical stage.
Because customers are doing so much more of their decision-making and research before they engage with you, there will be a strong feeling that they have already invested in your brand with their time and efforts – so if it’s not dealt with well at this (almost) final stage, they will hold much more grievance than in the past. Once the deal is done it’s vital to keep communicating with help; on-boarding or related offers and communications. The smoothness and helpfulness of this closing stage is what will keep customers coming back again and again and, more importantly, if you’ve made it easy for them they are highly likely to recommend you to others.
Now, this is a pretty basic map of the customer journey – throughout these stages there are numerous other touchpoints. Mapping the journey comprehensively and understanding your customers on a deeper level is sure to give you the competitive edge – increasing retention, loyalty and profits. Now’s the time to roll out that red carpet…