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When Does Your Audience’s Customer Experience Begin?

When Does Your Audience’s Customer Experience Begin?

Do you consider each department within your business to be part of the customer experience?

In 2007, Harvard Business Review said, “Customer experience is the internal and subjective response customers have to any direct or indirect contact with a company. Direct contact generally occurs in the course of purchase, use, and service and is usually initiated by the customer. Indirect contact most often involves unplanned encounters with representations of a company’s products, services, or brands and takes the form of word-of-mouth recommendations or criticisms, advertising, news reports, reviews, and so forth.”

Since 2007, businesses have seen a shift in marketing trends, like content marketing, that would require an update to this definition.

What is customer experience in 2020?

Customer Experience is the sum of all contact points a person has with a brand, both disruptive and engaging. With marketing trends shifting towards content marketing, what was considered “Indirect” would now be called “Disruptive,” and “Direct” is now “Engaging.”

Content marketing offers brands the ability to turn marketing campaigns from being considered indirect, or disruptive, to engaging content that potential buyers seek and follow on platforms like Instagram and Youtube.

Understanding your audience’s customer experience

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. The Follow-up
  5. Advocacy
  6. Emotional Value
The 3 Stages In The Buyers Journey Customer Experience

Awareness

Very rarely does a person purchase your product immediately after learning about your brand on their own, with a few exceptions like trade shows, food truck festivals, shopping malls, and when on vacation.

Your brand discovery presentation, regardless of the medium, will determine if your audience forms a positive enough opinion of your brand to move into the Consideration Stage of the Buyer’s Journey.

Sarah’s Customer Journey

Sarah’s looking for a new face wash, and decides to search online for the “Top face washes for women.” Google’s top result is a blog article titled “Top 7 women’s face washes of 2020.” Sarah looks through that list and clicks on the brand at the top of the list. Their website takes too long to load, so she backs out and clicks on another brand from the list.

Unlike the top-rated brand, this website instantly loads, catching her attention and engaging her with relatable content. Sarah visits the products page and sees 5-star reviews for a face wash. After clicking on the product for the face wash, she decides to find the brand on Instagram to look at their content.

Sarah enjoyed the content they put out and decided to give them a follow, but shortly after, she was distracted by other content on social media and failed to complete the purchase.

The Website

A properly built website acts as the foundation for your digital marketing presence. Your potential audience should be able to quickly understand who you are, what you offer, and why your brand matters, and when I say quickly, I mean in 3-5 seconds. In Sarah’s case, a slow load time created too much friction between her and a brand.

1 Second Delay In Page Load Time Customer Experience

Image Source: Business2community

Reviews/Testimonials

“93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions.” (Podium)

Testimonials are more valuable than gold for businesses. If your brand works to create a unique experience for customers at each point of contact along the journey, you will receive the benefit of impactful testimonials. Sarah saw a high number of 5-star reviews and immediately trusted the quality of the face wash, and she isn’t the only one to do this. Think about the last time you searched for a product on Amazon, did you purchase after looking at reviews?

Social media

Providing content of value on social media will show that your brand is an authority in the industry, and you care about connecting with your audience. Sarah was able to find enough value in this brand’s content to want regular updates from them.

Review Testimonials In Social Media To Know Your Customers Experience
Answer these questions before continuing:
  • What first impression does your website leave? Can visitors get to the desired location in under three clicks?
  • What value are you giving customers to share with their friends?
  • What value does your brand currently provide on Social Media?

Consideration

Your brand isn’t just facing the obstacle of positioning above the competition; you’re working to stay “top of mind” in a society inundated with devices and distractions. While a buyer may be interested in your product, understand that they need your product, and spend time thinking about the problem they are working to solve with your product, it is up to you to continue the customer experience by sending them valuable content consistently.

“In 2018, 74.58 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned, i.e., not converted into a purchase.” (Statista)

Sarah’s Customer Journey

A week later, Sarah was an avid follower of the videos this brand published to Youtube. With a combination of their Youtube and Instagram account, Sarah was building familiarity with the brand and learned to anticipate the content they released. She even began sharing the brand’s videos with her friends to get their opinions.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an opportunity to shift your brand from creating unwanted, disruptive ads, to a brand that builds authority and awareness through educational and informational content.

Youtube Channel

Youtube is an inbound marketing platform that is known to create raving fans. Content built around the viewer, not your business, will guide your team to create content that relates to the viewer’s needs and drives sales.

Email Campaign

Automated email campaigns designed to drive conversions will provide the value and social proof needed to break down any objections. Below is an example of an automated email campaign designed to induce conversion for a service-based business.

Answer these questions before continuing:
  • Are you marketing based on your customer’s needs or your brand’s needs for sales.
  • Does your brand have automated processes in place to communicate with potential customers?
  • Do you have clear KPIs defined to measure your audience’s engagement on these platforms?

Purchase

A combination of high media output, shrinking attention spans, and declining brand loyalty has created an economic environment placing priority on reducing friction between your buyers and the conversion process. Not only does the product and offer need to provide value, but the delivery should also make converting seamless.

Sarah’s Customer Journey

While scrolling through Instagram, Sarah’s shown a paid ad from the skincare brand she followed. The advertisement shared a limited time offer for the exact face wash she’d looked at on their website. She clicked on the ad, which directed her to the product page.

After adding the product to her cart, she received a pop-up offer to combine a moisturizer to the order at an additional discounted rate. Trusting in the brand’s authority, she added the item and completed her purchase.

Reducing Friction

With eCommerce, things like low brand trust, poor website design, and unsecured payment systems are three of numerous friction points that will stop a customer from completing a purchase. A/B testing is something eCommerce brands should run year-round to address bottlenecks and optimize their user’s shopping experience.

Quality Product/Service

You can have the lowest price, but if your product or service doesn’t meet expectations, people will avoid your brand. How will they know of the poor quality? Reviews, reviews, reviews. While this article is to share the viewpoint that the customer experience also exists outside of the product or service, lacking quality here will drive your business in the ground.

Value-Based Upselling

You can’t assume people know your brand as well as you do. Proactive marketing plans with cross-promotions or upsells are a great way to provide your buyers with a value that they were not aware of.

Answer these questions before continuing:
  • Does your company have a proactive plan for monthly sales or cross-promotional upselling?
  • Are you actively collecting data on your conversion rate, using Google Analytics on your website, or through Facebook Pixel to understand where drop-offs are occurring. In your marketing process?

Follow-up

Can you think of a time you spent hours on hold with customer service waiting to speak with an actual person? Did you think about leaving a raving review or complaint after this?

A customer’s value doesn’t end when they complete a purchase, and the quality of their experience during the follow-up can impact the opinion of your brand they share with others.

A proactive company can use the follow-up, days, and weeks after a purchase, to turn a happy customer into a raving fan. On the contrary, poor customer service and a lack of automated communication can drive a customer to do business with competitors.

Sarah’s Customer Journey

Sarah was raving about the face wash but noticed a break-out with the moisturizer. At this point, she was still happy with the brand but wanted to exchange that product. Sarah spent thirty minutes online looking for a customer support number. Frustration began to set in.

She decided to send them an email instead of continuing to waste time looking for the phone number. Saran sent a detailed email with her order number and waited. A week later, she received a vague response asking for more details. At this point, she’d given up on the exchange, and just wanted her money back to purchase from a competitor.

Customer Support

“Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor customer service experience, versus the 11 people they tell about a good experience.” (Helpscout)

Companies that provide poor customer service like home utilities can get away with lower quality customer service because you have little ability to leave for another provider. For any other company, you should take pride in the service and support you provide to your customers.

Loyalty Rewards

Loyalty rewards programs and monthly special offers are two ways to engage with your existing client base and raise their lifetime value.

“Did you know it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one?” (Invespcro)

Answer these questions before continuing:
  • Does your company have expectations and procedures in place for customer service requests?
  • Do you have automated email campaigns implemented to engage existing customers and raise lifetime value?

Advocacy

“72% of consumers say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business.” (BigCommerce)

As discussed in the Awareness Stage of the journey, testimonials and reviews are equivalent to gold for businesses. Having your customers share their reviews online and with their friends is when the customer experience becomes a marketing tool.

Sarah’s Customer Journey

Sarah went from a raving fan in the making to buying from a competitor all in one step of the Buyer Experience. The poor customer service took away all value provided in the other levels, and she made sure to leave a review sharing her experience.

Answer these questions before continuing:
  • Is your brand actively requesting reviews through automated follow-ups with discount offers?
  • Are you leveraging your testimonials by incorporating them on your website and within your social media content

Emotional Value

Your brand story, or brand purpose, can be the critical value that sets your business apart and catalyzes the Customer Experience from discovery to transaction, and ultimately raving fans.

I use the phrase “can be,” and saved this part for last because not all brands have a clear cause or purpose that they share, yet. The ones that already do include it in every step of the customer experience, adding a sentimental value that creates a personal connection between the buyer and the brand, raising brand trust and loyalty.

“86% of consumers believe that companies should take a stand for social issues and 64% of those who said it’s ‘extremely important’ for a company to take a stand on a social issue said they were ‘very likely’ to purchase a product based on that commitment.” (Engage for good)

Not every brand can be Toms Shoes, but every brand can find a cause that aligns with their core values and incorporate mutually beneficial Cause Marketing into their business model.

Answer these questions before continuing:
  • Does your company support a cause that aligns with your core values?
  • Are you actively sharing your cause initiative and incorporating it into your offer?

Wrapping up

A company using a proactive approach in creating a customer experience at every stage of their business can nurture potential customers into raving fans that draw in new business through word-of-mouth.

You now have a better understanding of what the customer experience is, when it begins, and how your brand can add value at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Time to crush it!

Guest author: Colby Flood is the owner of Brighter Click, a digital marketing agency based out of Burlington, NC. Through his tested marketing methods and client-friendly tools, he works to make digital marketing transparent and effective for local business owners. 

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