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Today, when each one of us has access to buy anything from anywhere and at any time, companies are finding ways to highlight their products and services and reaching the right audience. The digital boom has transformed the customer buying journey process. It has shrunken the process by modifying or eliminating various stages that existed otherwise. For example, customers no longer want to stand in long queues. Instead, they can order things online and pay a meager shipping fee.
Secondly, in a price-sensitive economy, such as India, discounts and coupons play a crucial role. Online retailers like food parlors and garment manufacturers regularly come up with various schemes and coupon codes to entice customers. Such programs positively impact revenue growth, increase customer loyalty, and spread good word-of-mouth.
Marketers and data analysts always study changing customer behavior to unravel the hidden secrets of the customer buying journey. They try finding ways of entering and fixing their place along the buying trajectory of customers. They try anticipating the customer’s next move and formulate strategies accordingly.
The customer buying journey has recently undergone a massive change. Until a few years ago, companies followed customers along their buying journeys and were employing tactics to gain their attention. But with the arrival of advanced technologies, better organizational structures, developed sales funnel stages, and competent marketers, companies, have seen success in restoring the balance of power. Today, they manage customer buying journeys, which has become central to a customer’s experience of a brand.
The following example of Sungevity, a solar power provider, will help you understand how companies can effectively manage the customer buying journey. This Oakland based company measures the solar energy requirement of residential homes and manages the end-to-end process of sales and custom installation — including finance, supply, installation, and servicing the panels. The customer buying journey is entirely digital. The company has top-notch customer relationship management personnel that do an excellent job of building and retaining clients.
The customer buying journey of Sungevity starts with an email that tells you how much you can save on energy costs with solar panels. It also provides a Google Earth image of your house with solar panels atop the roof. Then, it does energy-to-cost calculations by computing the presence of trees in your area, your rooftop angle, and the amount of sunlight that falls on the roof.
The sales funnel stages of the company are fully digital. While the prospect is on the website, they can connect with a live sales rep at the click of a button. Sales reps are experts who provide useful information about solar panel installations and encourage the prospect to go through the buying journey. They send contact details of their existing users who act as references. It allows prospects to receive first-hand customer reviews that lower their risk and builds trust in the brand. The sales reps also explain the economics of buying versus leasing in detail and tell what will suit the customer according to their needs. Later, the customer receives video links that show how the installation is done.
When the prospect returns to the website after checking the references, the sales rep knows in what sales funnel stage the prospect currently is. The sales rep immediately tailors a contract, emails it to the prospect, and helps them walk through it. This new Sungevity customer receives daily updates on their energy conservation and savings.
One may wonder how is Sungevity growing at an extraordinarily high rate? In 2014, the company broke its sales targets by registering a revenue growth of more than $65 billion. It happened because Sungevity made the customer buying journey very easy — by delivering only one brand, streamlining the evaluation phase, and imparting world-class customer relationship management training to their team.
Don’t miss: Optimize your Sales Funnel with CRM
In the digital age, we live in, consumers first consider a product, then purchase it, and finally develop a bond with it. And this is entirely valid for every product, right from expensive ones like an Apple laptop to daily-use products such as a body lotion. Sophisticated companies are finding ways to optimize individual touchpoints in the customer buying journey. In some cases, they are reinventing the wheel. They are moving from being reactive to being proactive by identifying customer’s pain points and fixing them.
Gone are the days when companies used coercive strategies to keep customers. Today, companies focus more on designing customized experiences that customers find irresistible. They are permanently engaged because they gain value out of the journey itself.
As explained above, companies are reinventing the customer buying journey. There are four key features of this transformation: digitization, individual customer journey, interacting as per the context, and journey innovation. These capabilities allow companies to draw in more customers effectively. Let’s study them one by one.
The first step is digitization. It refers to automatizing manual processes to make them fast and efficient. If customers can complete operations at the click of a button without having to move out of their house, consider how robust and dynamic the customer buying journey will become. It will exponentially increase customer satisfaction and thereby improve customer loyalty.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example. Imagine a bank that launches an app that allows customers to deposit checks by scanning and uploading the pictures without having to visit the bank premises? Or if a retailer enables customers to buy garments through AR (Augmented Reality), MR (Mixed Reality), and VR (Virtual Reality) technologies where they can try the garments from their home without visiting the brick and mortar store? Even governments can significantly benefit from digitization by enabling public welfare schemes such as better infrastructure planning and inclusiveness in financial dealings.
Every customer is different. They have varying needs, wants, and buying behavior. Companies need to keep a tab on each customer’s buying journey to devise personalized marketing strategies. They can do this in two ways. First, by gathering information from the events attended, activities performed, and actions taken by the customer in the past. And second, by forecasting the customer’s next move. This is where CRM software enters the picture. It collects customer data from various touch points, including call and browsing history, emails, social media, customer reviews, product usage, etc.
Then it prepares customer profiles that can be edited/updated at any time and from any place. Upon careful analysis of the profile, the CRM software algorithms suggest what action the customer might take in the near future. It keeps a vigilant eye upon the sales funnel stages and allows companies to influence the customer buying journey.
This step is crucial because it enables the company to know where the customer currently lies in the customer buying journey and how to draw them towards the next interaction the company wants them to pursue. This process is executed in two ways, first, through physical means such as visiting the retail store. Second, through online methods such as reading product reviews. For example, airline apps can send boarding passes to fliers as soon as they enter the airport. Or online retail stores like Amazon can show past purchase invoices or current delivery status when the customer lands on its website.
Another example can be seen in the hotel industry that is using apps in more ways than one. Customers receive room numbers on their apps when they enter the hotel’s premises. Also, the check-in process has been simplified as customers can provide thumbprints through the app itself. Further, upon reaching their room, the app turns the customer’s smartphone into a virtual key that unlocks the door. Moreover, the app delivers personalized recommendations and alerts for dining and entertainment. Such steps have made the customer’s life easy and have resulted in exponential revenue growth for the hotel industry.
This step focuses on discovering new avenues of the relationship between the customer and the company. It requires analysis of existing pain points and constant innovation to spot opportunities and act for both parties.
One of the significant components of journey innovation is A/B testing. Marketers and data analysts prepare alternate versions of the same message copy and send it to varying customers. They keenly observe their responses and categorize them accordingly. Once they know what strategy is effective on a particular set of customers, they use it for executing distinct marketing strategies. This step enables companies to put different features into the existing customer buying journey and improve it further.
Consider the following example to understand this effectively. Online retail store Amazon has successfully partnered with local brick and mortar retail stores such as Big Bazaar for delivering food staples to people. Customers can order vegetables and fruits from Big Bazaar through the Amazon app and get it delivered on their door-step within 2 hours. Customers can edit/update their orders and ask for speedy delivery by paying a small extra fee. This example illustrates how two companies can work together to make the customer buying journey more beneficial for all the parties involved.
With the arrival of digital tools, the customer buying journey is undergoing a massive transformation. Unlike previous generations, today’s customers are more aware, understand the value of time, and are too specific about their needs and wants. If companies don’t deliver on both these fronts, they are destined to lose customers to their competitors.
CRM software comes as a rescue. It provides instant access to customer-specific information, thereby speeding up tasks and enabling marketers to make decisions based on data. Such decisions provide pin-point solutions to the customer’s specific challenges allowing companies to take control of the customer buying journey, thereby increasing their revenue growth.
Further, CRM software also manages the sales funnel stages — awareness, consideration, and decision — effectively. It collects customer feedback from different touchpoints and gives automatic replies to trivial questions through its chatbot feature.
Are you searching for a marketing automation software —such as a CRM system — to better deal with your customers? We can help you. At Sage Software Solutions (P) Ltd., we are home to world-class CRM software that will solidify your business tech support fundamentals and help you build a customer-centric organization. To know more about it, SMS SAGE to 56767. You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: All the information, views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and their respective web sources and in no way reflect the principles, views or objectives of Sage Software Solutions (P) Ltd.
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