By Kathi Kruse
When does customer experience actually begin? Certainly, it’s in full force during the purchase transaction, but what many companies don’t realize is that customer experience begins in the weeks or months leading up to the first time they you.
Social media has opened the gates to information about your business. Consumers ask friends and family for facts (like they’ve always done) and social media provides an easy way to communicate. Consider this quote:
“Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.” — Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad and Best Buy.
Remarkable customer experience excels beyond …
- Expensive marketing initiatives
- Super Bowl-sized ad campaigns
- Rebranding efforts
- Sales production
Why does this matter?
Being a brand with consistently great customer experience means your company can focus on keeping current customers — and not solely on acquiring new customers. Why? Assuming a current customer loves you, has had nothing but great experiences, and is a true fan — an advocate — they will work for you.
There’s no need to spend massive amounts on advertising and marketing; the experience speaks for itself and your customers will do the talking.
And you’ll benefit from some other cost efficiencies, too.
The economics of loyalty
Your most loyal customers (your Raving Fans) …
- Are less price sensitive
- Will pay a premium for a better experience
- Stay longer, spend more, churn less
- Expand their purchases/relationships to other/new products or services you offer
- May overlook product shortcomings
- Are more likely to forgive occasional/infrequent service shortcomings (just make it right, though!)
- Cost less (in marketing, advertising, promotions)
- Have fewer complaints
- Provide back and want to help you improve and succeed
- Become technical support for you by helping other customers (answer questions, solve problems)
- Will evangelize the brand for you
All of this adds up to a strong case for focusing on customer experience, not only as part of your culture but as key to cultivating your online reputation, upon which many buying decisions are made.
By providing solid, original, high-quality content and concentrating efforts to attract and engage prospective buyers prior to sale, you create an experience that keeps your sales pipeline full.
Raving fans tell stories about how wonderful you are.
Your content bolsters those stories and solidifies trust and credibility.
By the time a prospective buyer makes the first with you, they’ve already had a genuinely great customer experience!
What influences buyers?
The following is a list of the top five influences on customer purchase journey behaviors. Leveraging these will help you create a stellar customer experience prior to sale.
1. Social media. Buyer confidence and satisfaction are influenced by a company’s social presence and responsiveness.
2. Online reviews. Genuine customer back, and the internal company process that supports it, helps buyers learn more from those they perceive as, “people like me.”
3. Quality content. Save buyers’ time and money by providing useful information and answers to frequently asked questions. Engage prospective buyers so that they are able to make informed decisions about your brand, your products and services.
4. Mobile. Help buyers make purchase decisions anywhere, anytime.
5. Video. Provide buyers with a rich, “show me” environment for researching products and services.
Over two years ago, Steve Cannon, then president/CEO of Mercedes-Benz, said this about customer experience:
“Customer experience is the new marketing. If you don’t have a passionate, committed executive leadership team … you won’t get out of the gate. It’s the most important thing we do. We have the most demanding customers on the planet. Customer experience better be at the top of your list when it comes to priorities in your organization.”
These words are truer and even more important today … no matter what industry you’re in.
What steps are you willing to take in your company to greet the customer online, before they visit your store or website, and position yourself to win the sale?
The opportunity is there to develop a stellar customer experience prior to sale and for it to become one of the main selling points in the transaction.
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