Are low sales due to bad choices you impose on your customer?

In every customer experience, there are good parts and bad parts.  Sales, marketing, servicing, technical, distribution, compliance, legal and finance departments all conspire to make the customer experience into a complicated and tangled web, leaving the customer confused, frustrated and ultimately failing to engage in your customer experience.  As a customer experience practitioner, I’m constantly seeking to re-build experiences that let the customer form a habit with your business, and every now and them, something strikes me as worthy of sharing with my readers.  The other night, I lay awake, my mind churning – I realised, it’s all about choice!

Choice, for the customer, comes on multiple levels.  So this post focuses on the most common choices faced by a customer.

Firstly, a customer has a choice to even consider making a purchase.  We all think about things we need and want, but we don’t always move to the next stage in the customer journey.  What is it that makes us sometimes proceed, yet other times not?  This is where the brand perception and quality play a key role.  If a customer trusts your company, they’ll be much more inclined to move to the next step in your customer journey.

BRAND – How are you perceived by your customers and equally importantly, your prospective customers?!

Secondly, the customer has a choice to understand the products that meet their need.  Your customer won’t automatically be able to link their need with your solution.  This is the most problematic stage, where many, many industries fail to engage (think: financial services, for example.)  Education is essential to drive adoption.  Roger’s Adoption Curve applies to most, if not all products and services.  How do you help the vast majority of customers to move from curiosity to confidence when they are in purchasing mode?

EDUCATION – empower you customers to understand why they need your product, what your product can do for you, and even better, why your product is better than the competition!

Thirdly, the customer has a choice with regards comparison products and services, reviewing how closely they meet the expectations and needs.  Some businesses expend inordinate amounts of effort at this stage, gifting marketing with big budgets.  In reality, the previous stage has considerable influence on how well you compare.  If you built  credibility with the customer in informing them on why they need such a product, despite a competitor’s über cool marketing, you’re still more likely to keep the customer on your customer journey.  But this is the “tactical” stage, when the customer needs to feel like you “fit” with them and they “fit” with you.

ALIGNMENT – make it easy for a customer to see how your product and their style / culture / lifestyle are one and the same. Don’t leave room for doubt: you and the customer are cut from the same cloth.

Finally, the customer has the choice to complete the purchase with the product or service provider.  Even if it’s the perfect fit, at the right price point, we don’t always go through with the purchase.  It’s a perfect fit – what the customer wants, slick imagery, fair price – and yet your clunky online experience means that the customer ultimately goes for their second choice.  Technology matters, but more than than, making it super easy matter most.

SIMPLICITY – Make your journey so easy that even your grandmother could make the purchase!  Each step of the customer journey MUST lead the customer on to purchase.

So, whilst most business focus on how to get the customer from their first to the last choice stage with the least amount of effort, those who are wiser will find the most expedient route.  If a customer has not gone through the understanding and comparison stages, they are significantly less likely to proceed with a purchase.  It’s not rocket science, but as I always say, if each customer-impacting and customer-facing function does not collaborate in the customer experience, then your products and services will not the the customer’s number # 1 choice.

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