The sales funnel is dead, and customer experience now reigns.
Focusing on the customer experience, defined as the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company, requires a shift in mindset. Consider this: According to Forrester, 59 percent of buyers would prefer not to interact with a sales rep as their primary source of information. Consumers are now making purchases through more channels than ever, and there is no guarantee marketers will be able to engage their customers as they have in the past. Given this reality, providing an unforgettable digital experience to your customers has never been more critical than now.
As you begin setting goals for 2016, make a resolution to deliver unforgettable customer experiences. The tips below, highlighted at this fall’s Forrester Digital Business 2015 forum, should help. Consider integrating these into your organization’s marketing strategy.
1. Understand the Buyer Journey
In 2016, it’s no longer about filling the top of the sales funnel and waiting for revenue to drip onto your bottom line. To drive customer loyalty, you must meet customers where they are, with the information they need. The first step is understanding your customers’ perspectives. To do that, Forrester recommends researching your buyers’ role within their organization to understand the complexity of their purchase decisions and the outcome they expect.
For instance, among the four buyer archetypes discussed in the image below, the Procurer archetype is primarily sensitive to budget demands. Often, they have already done their research, and simply need a solution that fits their budget allocation. This role contrasts against the Transformer archetype. Transformers are usually executives who are looking to radically change the way their business operates. They are often sensitive to a solution’s flexibility in dealing with complex problems.
Once you understand your different buyers’ perspectives, create a map that details their expected journey from initial trigger to post-purchase. By understanding the buyer journey, you will better understand the motivation behind your buyers’ purchase decisions, and what content will attract the buyers as well as the right channels for delivery.
2. Be Authentic and Consistent
2016 is the year to offer shoppers unforgettable experiences through relationship marketing. As Forrester described throughout the event, there are more channels than ever to connect with customers. Another goal for marketers in 2016 is to focus on building brand loyalty and long term customer engagement, rather than quick, short term customer acquisition.
Forrester noted that 55 percent of US retail customers agree that they shop more with retailers who offer a consistent customer service experience online and offline. Be sure you offer consistent product and price information across all channels, and deliver on your brand’s promises — consumers will respect this. Most importantly, put the customer first. Offer some control over how and when customers can expect to engage with your brand, and use messaging that centers on the outcome they can expect.
3. Accelerate Adoption (And Your Response)
Keeping pace with consumers will make all the difference to their experience in 2016. Consumers are more willing to try new things now than ever before, adopting technologies at an ever increasing speed; a process called hyperadoption. It is important to clarify that customers do not adopt devices at breakneck speeds. Rather, consumers hyperadopt outcomes.
A great example of a hyperadopted outcome is WhatsApp, a popular messaging app. By offering the service for free, WhatsApp reduced the risk of testing it out. And when you reduce the risk of new behaviors, you lose less with a negative outcome and gain more from a positive outcome. This process, in turn, increases customer interest and adoption, creating a network effect. The question you need to ask yourself is: How can you increase the adoption of your products and services? First, anticipate the outcomes customers can expect, and then be hyperresponsive to invite your customers to experience these new outcomes through digital channels. These outcomes will resonate with users and they will embrace your brand.
4. Embody Customer Obsession
Consumers expect brands to use a customer-experience-first approach and personalize their efforts. They are well aware that brands collect data on their interactions and expect what’s learned to be put into practice. Omnishoppers want it all: They expect to easily find product information, access to loyalty information and no-hassle returns. It may be a challenge for brands to meet the omnishoppers’ expectations in bigger and better ways, but the good news is that customers reward brands for unforgettable customer experiences.
With these considerations for 2016 in mind, where should your company invest? The forum highlighted customer insights, predictive analytics, targeted interactions, scaling platforms and solutions that can be easily configured (compared with a one-off customization) as areas on which to focus.
As we head into the holidays and you anticipate launching your marketing strategy for 2016, take a few minutes to conduct a self-assessment. Ensure that your marketing and sales strategies are set to deliver a seamless customer experience. Brands that prioritize understanding their buyer and building meaningful relationships based on customers’ desired outcomes will be rewarded.
Get inside the heads of your B2B customers with our helpful guide, 5 Things Your B2B Customers Need You To Know.