By Matt Greener
The customer journey is no longer what it used to be. Fundamental changes in how we live and communicate have helped develop self-educating buyers who do much of the preliminary purchase research themselves.
According to a 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, B2B buyers visit a vendor website multiple times during this research phase. This follows the trend in a 2014 survey wherein 37 percent of respondents said they would visit a site of interest 3-5 times, and 33 percent responded they do this to research third-party references. We should now ask ourselves:
How far along are prospects in the customer journey?
Many times today, prospective buyers already know the basics before engaging with your company and contact you only as a last resort, for example when they become overwhelmed or need to get answers about the product or service that are not available online. Businesses need to be ready to address these later stage customer journey questions in initial communications with prospects. Small businesses are under heavy pressure to connect with prospects and retain customers in a highly competitive marketplace. Take note of a few powerful customer journey lessons to expand on how to engage your consumer.
1. Focus on the Customer Experience
The Customer Experience (CX) is key to sustaining long-term success. Customer Experience is commonly defined as:
“The feelings and perceptions of customers that are caused by interactions with your business.”
Small businesses have a smaller team that can craft an excellent customer experience. Sales transactions, service, support, training are a few ways that companies can engage prospects and exceed expectations. With many small businesses having limited resources, it is a priority to design and manage a team and process that makes the Customer Experience a priority. Consider the Customer Experience to be composed of many customer journeys. Each journey is an opportunity to help customers solve a particular problem or need.
Consider a few of the major points of interaction:
- Initial purchase
- Support or service
- Returning Customers
- Billing or Administration
- Training or Instruction
How can your business improve upon them? Create a consistent framework so that your team can assist customers experience positive feelings and true value from your company’s engagement.
As customers educate and self-qualify, the approach of business changes accordingly to address different needs. It is imperative for small businesses to learn how best to communicate with their intended audience & work together to deliver a customer experience that exceeds expectations.
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon.
The work that you put into the process and your communications will pay off in customer retention and additional referrals. Businesses should continually strive to understand their customers and their needs.
2. Understand the Need for Mobile
Mobile is shifting the way customers search and buy. Prospects are at work, walking their dog, enjoying a leisurely day at the park, or have only a few minutes to find a restaurant for their upcoming date. People use mobile to search. In fact there are more searches on mobile than on any other device. Google’s new changes support websites and content that are fully optimized for use on mobile.
Content and formatting needs to be comfortable for customers to read from their smartphones and other mobile devices. Your small business needs to bring information to prospects fast and EASY. This translates to:
- Website content that all fits on the screen.
- Bulleted content.
- Easy check-out.
- Optimization for local search.
- Fast loading times.
Your small business needs their content and contact information to be easy to access and read. It’s as simple as that. Customers will not be able to continue to research or make inquiries with poorly formatted materials online that annoy them and deter them from moving forward. This is an essential step to take for small businesses. Brick and mortar businesses need to optimize their content for local search. Learn more about what mobile means to Google and your customers here.
3. Improve Your Message and Development with Feedback
Use customer feedback to tailor strategy, communicate with prospects and improve processes. These days, consumers are empowered to share their opinion across the many review sites available. Provide them with opportunities to tell you what they think. Make them part of the next product or service to be developed. People want to matter. Use that to connect with them and grow your business.
When businesses care, people experience a pleasurable customer journey and become part of a loyal following. Get the tools and resources to create real value for the customer.
Share your insights. What successes and challenges have you had with prospects along the customer journey?
Matt Greener is a marketing, digital and SEO leader. He currently heads marketing at App Data Room, a mobile sales enablement platform. He has spent over 15 years as a B2B marketing executive and consultant to businesses and entrepreneurs.