The ubiquity of the internet has given consumers more options than ever before. Shoppers were once funnelled toward a set number of products, but the internet has changed the manner in which people examine, consider and decide on a service or product. Luckily, the new customer journey is trackable and understandable. With the help of technology, here’s a look at how consumers have changed the game.
The limited choices consumers had before the internet was a tool many companies used to their advantage — and eliminating competitors from the market was a priority of many companies. The classic consumer journey once began with a consideration, followed by an evaluation of the products on the market. If a company could limit the availability of competitor products, the more likely there were to make the sale.
In this old journey, a consumer would often bond with a particular service or product before a purchase was made; from there, the shopper would understand the utility of the product, or see the type of lifestyle it would allow them. Only after this would a consumer make a purchase, leading to the experience of the product and, if it met expectations, advocacy for the company.
However, the internet has rearranged this journey. With automated services like digital checkout and one-touch purchases consumers typically spend less time showrooming (looking at products in store) and more time on product research via customer and expert reviews.
Automation gives autonomy to customers, but it also creates a barrier at times. With so many products on the market, brand loyalty, or the bond, consumers have with most companies boil down to human connections.
What services, in other words, can a business provide their customers on a human level. Automation can make your customer service division more efficient with interactive voice response, which uses prerecorded questions to compile data about a customer complaint before a ticket is opened.
Once a customer has started a ticket, use a customer service workflow app. Programs like these let representatives address multiple issues within a single ticket and share tickets seamlessly. Many cloud call-centers provide these services and automatically collect customer data you can use for business forecasts in the future.
Loyalty is not dependant on repeat business. There are a collection of reasons a customer may continue to buy a product or service without true loyalty. Maybe competitors are more expensive, or they have a contractual obligation, etc. Loyalty is when a customer believes your product and service is the best on the market.
The loyalty cycle starts with the first interaction a customer has with your business, which may be in-person or on a website. They can see how your product or service helps them solve a problem or change their life in a positive way. The customer care they get not only reaffirms their belief in your product, but also shows that they’re valued.
Quantity discounts and reward systems that gives loyal customers first access to specific products or services make dedicated patrons feel special and part of the company itself; after all, loyal customers have personal and economic interests in your company, too.
A landscape in flux
The consumer landscape has changed over the last decade and technology will make products more available as time goes on. Look for instant purchase options to further change the way people shop, buy and consume products in the future. With technology easily forging pathways to purchase, the human element of the customer journey will be paramount in retaining customers and promoting loyalty for a brand.
Photograph by RawPixel