As curated on PeteDeutschman.com
Successful brands may “win” at being part of the shopping experience up until they get buyers into stores and, ultimately, in line at the cash register. But many assume — incorrectly — that their job ends once a purchase transaction takes place considering this the job of support.
With online sales representing such a large (and growing) part of the customer experience, the customer experience post purchase is broken in the eyes of the customer. I buy on Amazon (or Best Buy or ….) and then I am expected to have a relationship with the manufacturer. This process repeats for each product I purchase.
The customer journey does not stop with the buy. By neglecting the post purchase experience, marketers are missing out on some pretty special moments and product affinity. Today’s consumers are mindful of experience’s value over product, this could become the demise of healthy products incapable of evolving along side of the customer.
It has been said that Brands’ and marketers’ mindsets must shift away from treating a purchase as a “final destination,” and instead focus on continuous interactions with consumers, even when those consumers leave the store for home or other locations. Today, there are tools available to drive engagement at each step of the customer journey —too many tools perhaps– mastering the post sale experience is paramount.
Whether the destination is a brick-and-mortar store or an online marketplace, many of today’s consumers expect shopping to be an experience. Even in our increasingly digital world, the concept of the consumer journey is alive, well and critically important.
This is because the shopping experience is driven by its primary component: a consumer’s intent to purchase
Alongside the intent to purchase is the moment of brand discovery. Given the ubiquity of smartphones today, this defining moment has become a more immediate and common part of the process. This is because, regardless of location, a consumer can instantly access information about a product, such as who makes it, where it can be bought and for how much. This is the setup for future customer interactions.
Consumers seek personalized experiences. A meal out is oftentimes more about the experience than the meal itself — the location, mood and fellow diners all factor into the decision to dine at a particular restaurant. The same philosophy applies to the goods they purchase. Consumers want to try out the product, interact with it, or otherwise, have an experience that makes their shopping trip even more enjoyable. The process is all about earning trust, something that is very difficult to do online in a world of paid reviews, influencers and paid publisher content.
The purchase is no longer the objective
Regardless of how much creativity goes into an in-store moment to make a shopping trip more enjoyable, an item’s purchase traditionally marks the end of the brand’s involvement in the consumer journey. Despite what a brand represents, there’s an instinct to treat the whole process like a transaction. Once the purchase has been made, you have what you need from a customer, and the conversation is complete.
But transaction-based thinking doesn’t fully value the rapport built during the brand discovery phase and undermines what brands are at their core. Strong and successful brands are built on relationships with consumers — pre- and post-purchase — that inform customers, educate and inspire them. If a brand’s interaction with the consumer ends at the point of purchase, it’s a substantial opportunity lost.
Be the exception by being R.E.A.L
At The Buddy Group, we have development a model based on the acronym, R.E.A.L.
The 2017 Getting Serious About Omni-channel Experience study by Huawei, the Customer Experience Board, and the CMO Council, found 60 percent of surveyed marketers altered their content strategy by offering more content types and formats for potential buyers to consume. This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. According to the same study, only 38 percent of marketers have turned consumer engagement into a 24/7 opportunity to connect with customers, proving that creating pre-sales content without actively engaging consumers with R.E.A.L post-sale content is like bringing your kids pancakes without syrup.
Going the distance
In essence, turning consumer engagement into an around-the-clock operation is synonymous with accompanying a buyer on each step of their shopping journey, as both embrace the idea of extending the dialogue well beyond the moment of purchase.
Major analyst firms such as Gartner also recognize the importance of this kind of brand-to-consumer engagement, citing its positive impact on customer retention. In fact, the Gartner 2017-2018 CMO Spend Survey found that CMOs are spending twice as much on customer retention as on customer acquisition.
As Gartner notes, marketers and brands will need to focus on capturing lifetime value or, simply put, keeping customers for life. Once brands know how to keep customers, they’ll also be able to better understand how to gain them.
The good news is, there’s never been a better opportunity to start engaging with consumers at home, particularly when smart or connected products enable access to custom video content or other unique digital experiences such as voice search, image recognition or up-to-date access to evolving content. Access to videos or tutorials on how to use the product with other products in their ecosystem or addressing common issues caused when using the product with others generate positive outcomes and deep customer trust that your brand will support the ongoing evolution and relationship.
Since consumers already treat shopping like it’s a journey, brands should be treating it the same way. The “final destination” no longer exists in the consumer shopping experience. A purchase transaction is just the start, and it can be the beginning of a conversation that fuels business growth, drives additional sales and creates ultra-loyal and satisfied customers.