A customer life cycle, or journey, is a term used to describe the movement of steps, or stages, a customer goes through when considering a purchase or ongoing use of a product, service or solution. The stages of the customer journey are outlined differently by many organizations coming from various industry backgrounds; however, they all basically have the same end goal in mind.
A recent Econsultancy report found that 64% of companies rate customer experience as the best tactic for improving customer lifetime value (CLV), followed by better use of data and personalization.
Companies today strive to gain new customers, retain them, and turn them in to loyal advocates. In order to do this, companies need to differentiate themselves on the basis of customer experience and the vital touchpoints in their customers’ journey. What steps do organizations need to take to provide a higher level of customer experience?
The relevant message to the right person, at the right time, equates to a better customer experience.
The focus that is being stressed by professionals is the need to keep customers informed through their journey. Proactively reaching out to the customer before they call in with a complaint or question will earn a company brownie points. Dedicate a team to be proactive and keep these tips in mind:
- Let’s start with Awareness & Reach: Any business has to define their target customer. Start by creating a profile of your ideal customer, plan out how you’re going to make them aware, and then determine how they can reach you. Do you want to drive traffic to your website, do you need to create a call to action, and will you provide an incentive for them to take that next step?
- Acquisition & Conversion: Then comes acquisition, and considering what your ideal customers’ desires, wants and needs are. What strategy needs to be put in to place to acquire this new customer? Create an incentive for them to convert, and ensure that the transition into becoming a new customer is one that they can rave about. This is where engagement and a great experience comes in to play - where a prospect turns in to a customer – so, make the shift to selling the relationship, not only the product.
- Purchase & Onboarding: Once you have gained that new customer, whether they are a one-time purchaser or an ongoing customer, you need to build a relationship immediately. Proper onboarding best practices are a must. Send a welcome to all customers and provide options on their communication preferences. Find out what they are interested in, and keep in touch with relevant information through their communication method of choice. Keep track of every touchpoint they make with you, and make sure they have all the tools to contact you quickly and efficiently, should they need to.
- Customer Experience & Feedback: Keeping that customer delighted means going above and beyond on satisfying them. Ask for feedback when it counts - through surveys, and after a transaction or action taken by the customer. Ask for their opinion, but most importantly, do something with their feedback.
- Retention and Loyalty: Without customer engagement activity and good retention practices, you’ll fail and lose your customer. You’ll need to keep your customers coming back and engaged with something desired by them or they will leave. So, make sure you continually improve your customers’ experience by improving on something they mentioned in a survey, or simply adding some additional value to them by sending relevant communications.
- Advocacy and Word of Mouth: You can turn your customers to advocates by truly demonstrating you care. Show them what you can do for them, like adding a discount to their next purchase or sending them a thank-you gift. Advocates will share their happiness with their friends, family and colleagues, and, in turn, get you referrals through word of mouth.
We all know the devastating effects of bad word of mouth. Research finds that customers who have a positive experience are nearly twice as likely to make a referral and much more likely to make additional purchases. On the other hand, we’ve seen that a bad customer experience can be damaging to the reputation of an organization.
Now, more than ever, companies are under pressure to not only grow their customer base, but to keep the base they have. Not allowing the churn numbers to climb, to maintain loyalty, increase profits and increase the value per customer. It is essential to communicate with your customer at the right moment - to encourage activity and engagement with your brand. This boosts their lifetime value and increases profitability. Adopting a consumer-centric lifecycle strategy, and optimizing your customers’ journey, will help engage prospects and customers throughout their relationship with you - from acquisition to advocating.
Further Reading & Viewing…
If you’re looking to continue this train of thought, here are some links you may enjoy:
- 50 Important Customer Experience Stats for Business Leaders - eye opening stats on churn, surveys, mobile and engagement.
- Customer journey done right, for an Insurance customer - where every touchpoint is essential to a strong long-term relationship.