The Altered Customer Journey

The Altered Customer Journey

Understand Your Customer’s Evolving Needs

You want to be the brand that customers think about when it comes to a making potential purchase. Are you familiar with the journey your customers take to saying “yes” to your product or service? Several contributing factors lead your customer down the sales funnel, as well as cause them to abandon it.

Let’s dive into the effects COVID-19 has had on the customer journey and what your brand can do to adapt. The goal is to continue serving customers by communicating with empathy and keeping sales channels available to maintain your brand’s presence during uncertain times.

Before entering the altered customer journey, ask yourself this question:

How do I better support my customers in a meaningful and relevant way?

Once you have the answer to that, you will come into the customer journey with a clear idea of what you can do to build a stronger connection and create a positive experience with your brand. The face-to-face element of the customer experience is out of the equation as more customers are self-isolating in their homes. It’s about understanding how you can still provide a great experience amidst these changes.

Customer Journey Infographic

1. Awareness:

The awareness stage is when customers first realize they have a problem or an opportunity. Typically, they begin by researching solutions to their problem/opportunity until they identify what they need.
Advertising plays a significant role in this stage as it could intrigue the customer to look into that specific brand name.

What has changed?

  • Customers are opting to use only online stores and resources to seek out their wants or needs, as all physical locations are closed.
  • Customers are seeking out businesses that support them by offering extended return policies or free trials, providing tutorials on how to use their product, or communicating how else the company is helping during COVID-19.
  • When face-to-face interaction isn’t possible, shifting the business to embed more human touch-points online will increase customer satisfaction.

2. Consideration:

The consideration stage involves comparing and evaluating a series of products or services in the same category to determine which one best suit their needs.

Most buyers will be at this stage if they’ve committed to addressing the need or want for the product/service.

What has changed?

  • Customers are carrying out research and compare products from multiple retailers’ side-by-side, as there is no option to interact with the product physically.
  • The ease of the online buying process is essential by ensuring all website pages are functioning correctly and quickly, optimized for mobile use, and offer online features like direct chat or an FAQ.
  • Provide valuable content on your website through a blog, a video series, or digital tools enabling businesses to showcase how they are helping their community and supporting their customers.

3. Decision:

The decision stage is when customers are fully committed to one product or service from a specific brand, and they have decided to add it to their cart and follow through with buying it.

Most buyers at this stage have evaluated all aspects of the product and service in terms of price, features, and available customer support.

What has changed?

  • Customers are looking to know exactly how and when they will receive their products and services due to social distancing practices and the increase in sales volumes online.
  • Businesses need to have their payment systems and checkouts running optimally amidst the high traffic online.
  • Showing your appreciation to the customer by adding a gift or a donation to their order is especially meaningful during these times.

4. Delivery & Use:

Delivery and use are when customers receive and enjoy their product or service after waiting for it to be delivered.

Most buyers either obtain the product or service through a courier or pick up their items themselves at a retail location.

What has changed?

  • Customers are expecting the handling of their products to be done with extra care in terms of sanitation levels and delivery methods available.
  • Customer service teams need to have adequate staff and training to support buyers in the best way possible through product issues, returns, and waiting times.
  • Cut shipping costs to address the rise of unemployment can help individuals who are trying to stay afloat.

5. Loyalty & Advocacy:

Loyalty and advocacy occur when customers receive a pleasant experience with the brand. A positive experience increases the likelihood that they will be a returning customer to buy more in terms of frequency and order value.

It will also encourage them to share their feelings via online reviews and social media, which helps build up brand credibility.

What has changed?

  • Serve loyal customers with special digital services or incentives to keep their experience positive and satisfying.
  • Customers want to hear of any updates in terms of operations, supply and demand, and how they can receive help during this crisis.
  • Follow up surveys or phone calls are necessary to ensure customers are satisfied with the products and to receive feedback on the service.

Key Takeaway

Now that you have a stronger idea of the evolving and impacted landscape, you can begin finding ways to further improve your customer experience. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and tailor your business to their needs, while keeping in your important business goals.

How has your customer journey altered in the wake of this crisis? What have you done to address the changes?

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