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From Like to Love: The Customer Journey

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 2

By Alessandra Ceresa

The competition is relentless out there. There are so many options for consumers to choose from, yet somehow, the majority of us choose a brand and if we’re satisfied, then we stick with it. Why is that? Because in our eyes it gets the job done, and we can trust the brand we choose. Am I right?

When shopping for a product or service, the consumer, both consciously and subconsciously, evaluates a number of different aspects of the business as well as the product or service. It is in this evaluation that the company has one chance to make a lasting impression. This ‘first impression,’ if executed properly, will guide the consumer down the path from like to love.

For more on how to connect with your customers, check out this blog post: How to Make your Customers Love You

To break it down, I wanted to outline the phases that a consumer goes though from the minute they first make contact with a brand, to the point of no return and ultimate brand loyalty. Once I find a brand that fulfills my needs and that I can trust, there is no switching. Consistent quality, messaging that resonates with me, and a mutual understanding is what keeps me coming back for more. Let’s explore.

 

Phase One: Shop ‘til they drop

Just like dating, you don’t just commit to the first person you meet. You play the field to really find out what you want. The same goes with the brands you choose. You want the brand to resonate with you and provide the quality that is promised.

At this point, the customer is perusing websites, reviews, comparisons, and any other collateral out there. This is when making a great first impression is critical.

The best way to ensure a lasting first impression is to follow the following tips:

  • Consistency: Keep your messaging, branding, colors, logo, etc consistent across all channels. Did you know that it takes a person seeing something 7 times for it to stick? The more they see your brand, the more likely your brand is to stay top of mind.
  • Illustrate benefits over features: Sure, your product or service does what it says it does, but when it comes down to it, you have to understand the motivation behind the purchase. Instead of focusing on what your product or service does, exhibit the benefits, how your company will positively affect the lives of your clients and customers. You are solving a problem for your customers, so show them how you will do exactly that.
  • Make yourself available: People want the information their searching for the minute they search for it. Whether they reach out via social, phone, live chat, or email, it is important to ensure that whatever the method, your leads and customers can engage with you quickly and easily. Regardless of this digital world we live in, people buy from businesses and people they like. By making yourself more accessible, you are giving yourself a chance to develop a more authentic relationship.

Read more about the customer experience in The Customer Experience Explained

Phase Two: Finding the one

After lots of time spent looking at the pros and cons of every option out there, the consumer finally comes to a point where they have chosen the company they want to do business with.

So now that you’ve made a good impression and passed all the tests, it is time to deliver on what you promised. Here are a few tips to start building a long-lasting relationship from the get-go:

  • Make it easy to purchase: If the customer wants to buy, let them, and make it easy. If they have to jump through hoops, they might very well change their mind, and even worse, do business with your competitor.
  • Immediately thank them for their purchase via an auto-responder or personalized email. People enjoy when they are appreciated, so show them.

 

Phase Three: Getting to know each other

The moment they purchase, they have made a commitment to you. They chose you. Now, don’t you think it is time to deliver? If you don’t, you will break their trust in you, and most likely will not keep them as a customer. If you concentrate on your customer retention rather than acquisition, then you build deeper relationships and eventually cultivate a tribe of brand advocates.

This is the time to show your commitment to the customer.

  • Show them that you are on their side: Send them relevant content via drip campaigns, email broadcasts, social media, personal emails, etc.
  • Provide them with solutions before they need them: As a sales or marketing executive, chances are you know a lot of the questions your new customer has before they even ask it. Instead of waiting for them to ask the question, send them valuable resources providing solutions for them. Believe me, this is mutually beneficial move right there.

 

Phase Four: In it to win it

Once you have surpassed the “getting to know each other” phase of the journey, you reach the point where the customer is either going to continue to do business with your brand, or hit the road. If you have properly nurtured your new customers, and illustrated that you are on their team, then, most likely, they will continue to do business with you.

It is in this stage that you want to remain in contact with your customer, but not overwhelm them with emails, follow up and check-ins.

Phase Five: Shout it to the world

More often than not, customers will talk about the negative over the positive. The trick is encouraging them to become part of your loyal tribe. Word of mouth is  the most effective and influential form of marketing—and the best part is that it occurs both online and offline. Essentially, word of mouth marketing is the best form of social media. Provide such an outstanding customer experience that your consumers want to tell all of their friends!

A Last Thought

How are your leads flowing through the sales journey? What sets you apart from your competition that makes your leads pick you over them? Form a statement that explains just that. Find the stage where your leads are leaving and make a change. Remember, your customer is your partner in business—work together to make that partnership last.

 

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