Itâs a great time to be a customer. There are so many ways purchaseâwhether itâs a researching new smartphone or planning a big vacation, the process of making a decision offers a huge variety of optionsÂ to consumers.
Usually, the customer journeyÂ starts with online research. This is where customersÂ brush up on information about the product or service they wish to buy: Is that smartphoneâs camera high-grade? Does theÂ hotel offer free wi-fi?
From there, they can narrow down their search. Reviews are read on social media and on forums, simple questions can be answered byÂ chatbots. Purchasing can be done easily online. For more tactile retail goods, visits to bricks-and-mortar stores come into play as well.
But while itâs simple to describe in these terms, theÂ customer experience is rarely simple and straightforwardÂ throughout the journey. Of course,Â as a business you want it be easy at every stage. You want to support and help customersÂ choose your product or service as much as possible.
Johann Wrede, global vice president of audience, brand, and content marketing for SAP Hybris, explains thatÂ the most common pitfalls companies make are inÂ the customer experience.Â Many people think the buying journey stops once the customer has made a purchase, but the reality is the longer part of the customer journey is what happens after the purchase.
Studying and recognizing the gaps between the various stages of a customer journey shouldnât be overlooked. âThe most fragile moment is when the customer transitions,â he says.Â âIf that gap isnât seamless â if the experiences before and after the gap arenât the same â you break the customerâs journey.â
Here are four examples of where to bridge the gap:
1.Â âI want to buy it before I hold it.â
Does the retail experience match the online one? Will a customer walk into a store after checking online for stock, only to be disappointed that itâs not available? Will the staff be as helpful as the online experience?
To achieve a frictionless experience for your customer, departments must work together. E-commerce needs to talk to retail, and vice versa, to ensure that bothÂ are meeting customersâ expectations.
2.Â âIâd like to get more information.â
This is about making sure leads get to your salespeople so they canÂ provide a quick response. If leads are getting lost in the process, or are taking too long to get a response, you will lose that customer.
Provide salespeople with context for the callback as well. Which offerÂ is the customer responding to? What product page were they on? By transferring the intelligence, the responding salesperson can have a conversation that will add value to the caller.
3.Â âI need help.â
Does your customerâs experience match the experience of their purchase?
The longest phase of the customer journey is the use phase.Â A good example is buying a car. The purchase will most likely last for years, so theyâll be interacting regularly with you. When they service the car, make it seamless and easy. Does post-sales service match the great sales service they received when they test-drove the car, or when they purchased it?
Itâs important for information captured from the marketing process and the sales process to feed into customer service. ThatÂ way, when a customer calls for help, customer service will know what they bought and why theyâre calling. This saves time and frustration, while also adding value.
âMarketing should care as much about what customer service is saying to your customers as you do about whatâs going into an outbound email,â Wrede says. âIf that experience is different and disconnected from what you say across marketing and sales, it will break that customer journey. You will never bring that customer to the final phase of advocacy.â
4. âHelp me share my experience.â
You want your customers to become your advocates, and to share their fantastic, seamless, and positive experience with everyone they know.
âIf you donât bridge that gap to go from use to advocacy, youâre damaging your business,â Wrede says. âHow does your organisation work to cross that big divide from saying Â âI bought itâ to âI love it.â?â
Respond quickly to customer feedback and reviews. Have systems in place that flag both positive and negative feedback. Train your customer service to recogniseÂ and fosterÂ potentialÂ advocates.
Overall, itâs about minding the gaps and looking into your businessânot just in your department, but across the whole organisation. Go beyond marketing, sales, and customer service. Understand what the gap looks like from the customerâs perspective, and base your solution around that.
For more brand advocate strategies that get results, see In 2017, Customer Experience Management Should Be Your First Priority.Comments