Today’s customer is more educated and connected than ever before. With seemingly endless choices, and unfettered access to information from peers and other sources – standing out in the market is harder than ever. And lowering prices is not always a winning strategy. So, how can you attract and retain more customers in this new world of business? By focusing on creating an extraordinary customer relationshipis a very powerful alternative This works only, if you design and live this relationship.
Studies show that customers who experience consistently positive interactions with a supplier are likely to buy from that company again and again. For example, a recent McKinsey report states that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. And, 55% of customers would pay extra to companies to guarantee better service, according to Defaqto Research. Conversely, a customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than it is price or product-related(1).
So, what can you do in order to create and live a mutually beneficial and long – lasting customer relationship?
The answer is „Customer Journey“:
„Customer Journey“ describes each phase oft he customer’s decision – making process. A complete journey starts long before the customer has developped a need. It exceeds the purchase and the use of a product or a service, because the customer usually shares his experiences with the supplier with others or wants to contact you when troubles appear.
It’s the Touchpoints that are important. Touchpoints are all those moments, when a customer has contact with a supplier and/or a product or service. They are all the direct contacts, like physical points of sale, face-to-face sales/service calls and all digital ones, like Websites, online shops, e – mails videos and shard contributions in social networks.
Looking at Customer Journey from a stategic point of view it is essential to have a broad overview of all your customer’s possible contactpoints in order to understand the network of all the touchpoints so that you can design a solution. It is your top priority to offer your customer an easy trip without obstacles to make a decision – and beyond.
Most industries are confronted with a multitude of competitors with exchangeable products/services. In this world Customer Experience may turn out to be the most effective differentiator. If two touchpoints (like the informations on your website and the behavior of your sales rep) do not match then you may have a breakdown of he journey, at the worst case resulting in change of supplier.
The 6 phases of the Customer Journey
There are 6 phases in the Customer’s Journey. Three take place before the decision is made; three afterwards.
There is yet no decision to buy. Instead, so-called „trigger events“ (like new technologies or changes in the market) send signals tot he customer that there may be something „in the bush“. These events can be a threat or an opportunity.
The customer formulates a vague need. He will pay more attention to possible alternatives and collect information actively.
The customer wants (needs) to buy. He will develop priorities and check information actively
The customer makes a decision: he buys, he signs a contract or he uses your services.
Having made a decision the customer wants to check whether it was the right one. Usually this happens by using your product/service.
While the Use – phase is rather passiv the final phase sees a more active customer. He interacts with your company and/or others more frequently, no matter whether he has had a positive or a negative experience. This ist he time when invoices for services get paid.
The single phases in this process are not linear. Learning takes place. So there may be loops. At the same time, the phases are not equally long. Some may last years, some tenths of a second. Some may even be left out. In a B2B environment it is usual that there is a buying team where each person runs or walks through the process at different times with different speed. Anyway, your contemplation oft he Customer Journey will always be tot he maximum extent in order to cover all possible steps oft he customer.