The Customer Experience has always been significant, but as the differences between the products offered by competitors become more and more similar, the one meaningful way that a business can set itself apart is through the experience their customers have in the interactions with the business. Here we will dissect what makes up the Customer Experience and how your business can make it better to help differentiate yourself from your competitors.
The Customer Journey
When looking at the full Customer Experience, what many businesses try to do is look at all of the experiences a customer goes through in the interactions with your business. This is often referred to as the customer journey. This has been researched a lot, and from that research the customer journey has been broken down into four phases that can be explored and understood. With understanding these phases comes the ability to affect each phase in a positive way, thus leading to an enhanced customer journey, which means a better Customer Experience.
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The Consider Phase
In this phase, a person goes from being just a passive observer of your ad or other brand exposure to a potential customer. This is an important key shift, as it has been shown that when a brand or company moves in the consideration phase, they are three times more likely to experience a purchase versus brands that have not been included in the consideration phase.
Branding is a major point in the consideration phase, as people will make decisions based on very little information from outside sources. As you might imagine, a well-known brand will perform better in the consideration phase because potential customers will have heard about it from others and not just the brand’s marketing efforts. But regardless of your brand standing, getting your message across early is very important.
The Evaluation Phase
Once enough information has been gathering in the consideration phase, people move to the evaluation phase. In this phase, they start researching, or evaluating, the marketplace. Interestingly, in this phase, it is possible that brands that were not in the consideration phase actually get a second chance in the evaluation phase. As the research goes on, brands that were initially considered can be dropped, and other brands that were not considered can be added.
This is an important aspect of the Customer Experience because it means that just because your brand wasn’t included in the consideration phase doesn’t mean that you have no chance. By the same token, even if you were included in the consideration phase, you aren’t immune to being dropped. Your work on the Customer Experience is never done.
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The Buy Phase
By far the most attention-focused phase. This is the phase where you A/B test certain aspects of the offer. Such as, placement of the “buy” button, color choices, and other aspects. With all of this attention, you would think that this phase has an excessive amount of influence on the Customer Experience, right? In truth, that is not correct.
Research has confirmed that “the closer” is the most influential touch point in less than half of all purchases. Whether that be a physical person, an email, a store, or other mechanism. This means that many other aspects are prominent in whether a person buys from your business or not. All of these different aspects are part of the Customer Experience and need your attention.
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The Enjoy, Advocate, and Bond Phase
Once a customer has purchased from you, the Customer Experience doesn’t end. Ideally, this customer would become a loyal, repeat buyer and, hopefully, a vocal advocate for your brand. But in reality, there are, on average, six times as many passive consumers of brands than active loyalists. This means that the passive consumers are still in the consideration and evaluation phases of your competitor’s products.
Post-purchase customer engagement is also critical in the Customer Experience. If done effectively, you could have another vocal advocate for your brand. However, if done poorly, you could turn off a consumer to your brand. While pushing them to consider and evaluate your competitor more highly.
More On The Customer Journey
It is vital that businesses not confuse the customer journey with the conversion funnel. The conversion funnel focuses solely on the purchase flow. Where the customer journey deals with the behavior changes in the customer. Another thing to note is that the customer journey is rarely even, and may not follow a sequential order. A customer might entirely skip the evaluation phase in their journey or spend a long time in the consideration phase.
Look at the customer journey holistically. Businesses need to fight against the temptation to compartmentalize each phase. You can easily do this by assigning a particular group in the business to handle a particular phase of the journey. There are many overlapping points and interconnectedness with the phases that require all aspects of a business to discuss the entire customer journey and understand how an impact on one aspect affects all other aspects. Overall, keep in mind that the customer journey is a long-term project. It’s not something that can be finished up in a quarter.
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You Need to Focus on the Customer Experience
As you can see, the Customer Experience is a huge aspect that a business needs to spend time on. While aspects of CX can be worked on, other aspects must be held to standards without slipping. Otherwise the Customer Experience will never advance. You should also remember that the Customer Experience is a long-term prospect. And what happens during each customer journey that leads to a purchase influences future behavior. Past experiences factor into future decisions, and it takes a while to overcome bad past experiences. Always look at the customer journey from the perspective of the customer and not the business. Otherwise, you will miss important aspects and think that the Customer Experience is just fine when it is not.
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