In a world where consumers are continuously bombarded with choice, companies must invest in finding out why they are losing sales and how they can plug the gaps, writes Mindi Chahal for Marketing Week.
Advertising might persuade a customer to consider your brand, but there are several more steps they have to take before they click ‘buy’ on your website or hand over their cash to a member of your in-store sales staff.
It is your job to guide consumers through each stage of this journey, and if you do it well, they will buy your product and return to buy more in the future.
Inevitably, despite your best efforts, some consumers will fall by the wayside. Don’t despair – act.
WHY DO CONSUMERS QUIT ON BRANDS?
It is vital that you invest in finding out precisely why, and when, these potential customers are being lost.
A recent survey of 18- to 34-year-olds (so-called “millennials”) commissioned by YouGov and cloud-based global commerce platform GT Nexus provides a valuable insight into why consumers in this age bracket have given up on brands in the last 12 months.
You might think that millennials would place a high value on a slick website, use of multiple social media platforms and a mobile app, but the survey showed that only 3% punished brands for the lack of a cool website, 5% for the lack of a strong social media presence and 4% for the lack of a mobile app.
What is important to millennials is the quality and availability of your product (41%), that you treat and pay your staff fairly (28%) and that your product is environmentally friendly (22%).
A survey of 2,827 UK consumers commissioned by consumer website Market Force Information suggests that customer service is of paramount importance, with seven out of ten consumers having dropped a brand due to a poor in-store experience in the last 12 months. Specific issues cited included: slow service (68%), unhelpful staff (65%), unavailable items (52%), unknowledgeable staff (50%), rude staff (38%), confusing shop layouts (32%) and overly attentive staff (27%).
HOW CAN I PERSUADE CONSUMERS TO STICK WITH MY BRAND?
A poor quality product, lack of availability and customer service are clearly key to winning over consumers, but building an army of loyal customers is not as simple as addressing these three areas. You must take a more holistic approach.
Here are three ways in which you can stop losing potential customers and win back those you have already lost:
1) Draw a map
Understand your customers’ journey by placing yourself in their shoes and creating a customer journey map highlighting all the points of interaction.
Japan’s Honda Motor Company enlisted the services of Experience Insight, a company that “uses science to understand and improve customer experience”. Experience Insight monitored customers going through the process of buying a Honda car, using neuroscience, psychology, physiology and behavioural economics to map the customer experience
Honda now offers its staff the opportunity to participate in a training programme informed by the lessons learned from Experience Insight’s findings. In July 2016, 600 Honda staff were participating in the training programme. On average, those 600 Honda staff achieved increased margins and unit sales of 23% above those not on the programme, and customer satisfaction scores 16% above those not on the programme.
2) Manage expectation
Don’t promise anything you are not going to deliver. “When expectation and reality don’t match up, that is when you can see the tripping points happen,” says Tim Routledge, chief experience officer at Experience Insight.
3) Share responsibility
The marketing department should take the lead on customer experience, but it is the responsibility of every member of staff to ensure the customer journey is as smooth as possible. “In the increasingly more customer-led world that we find ourselves in, it’s important that organisations as a whole are committed to the customer experience they are delivering,” says Maria Heckel, marketing director at the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
IT’S NOT THE DESTINATION BUT THE JOURNEY
Communicate with your customers, tell them what you are going to deliver and deliver it. Take care of the customer journey and more of them will stay onboard until the final destination.