Four ways to get more out of the consumer decision journey
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Four ways to get more out of the consumer decision journey

Wim Rampen
  • Wim Rampen
  • Director

In my last blogpost (a customer centric way out of the crisis) I focussed on positioning CX efforts more strategically by contributing to cost saving efforts that will be on the agenda of most organisations moving forward. This week I want to talk about that other key priority in times of crisis: generating more sales, or perhaps better framed, generating the most valuable sales.

CX often touts the need to focus on customer experience to retain clients. Although true the fact is that if you don’t want to shrink, you have to keep winning new customers. Despite that truth many CX efforts only start from the “onboarding journey”, after the customer has made a purchase. It is time to broaden the horizon and to foster a stronger collaboration between marketing and CX on the customer/consumer/client decision journey.

Everyone their own discipline

Nowadays there are many disciplines at work within marketing, all of which are targeting their own “customer”. The proposition marketer looks out for the right consumer group to target and hopes to grab “orientation attention”. Online marketers try to persuade them to visit the website into the funnel of consideration and CRO specialists search for ways to ways to convert the visitor to customer, whether or not helped by content and / or UX specialists. Everyone tries to optimise their specific part of the decision journey, also known as funnel. That sounds good, but could be better.

Four opportunity areas

In my experience, there are four areas where progress can be made: (1) an integrated design approach (2) focus on the most valuable customer, (3) treat the “decision journey” not as funnel but as a service, (4) smart analytics . I will explain them briefly below.

1. An integrated design approach

With an integrated design approach, I mean a few things. It starts with tackling the entire decision journey together as a team. So not every discipline purely has its own responsibility, but the team jointly take responsibility for the whole and work together on every challenge. This is important because through intense collaboration you get different perspectives on the same problem. This increases the chance of so-called “breakthrough insights” and innovative solutions. With intense collaboration I actually mean working together in a (virtual) room on the same problem, in a sprint-like fashion would be good. However you organise the work, please make sure you are not just handing over from one discipline to the other the old-fashioned way.

A second perspective on the integrated approach is that in analysing, designing and operating the decision journey you take into account all altitudes a customer can be. Marketers, CX and UX specialists need to acknowledge that there’s more than one customer. We are humans and we have different interests and needs in these four different roles we play in our life. See the image below for what I mean. If you only take the user-perspective you are likely to miss cues and opportunities the consumer provides in the interactions with your content. The same is of course true if you design a killer proposition but fail to offer it in such a way that it engages future customers.

 

There’s more to an integrated deign approach, but it goes beyond the purpose of this post to list all elements. Find here our “big 6” service design methods / working methods that further facilitate such an approach.

2. Focus on the most valuable Customer

If the market shrinks, you can continue to target everything that moves, but in my experience you may attract customers who cost you more than you earn. That looks nice for the sales numbers, but does not help your organisation, especially not in the longer term.

If you use online channels a lot, it can be useful to look carefully at which channels bring you the most valuable customers. Those are customers who stay long (or come back more often) and have a larger share of wallet. And it’s customers who recommend you.

Look around and you will see that there are channels that bring you a lot of sales, but yield little to nothing because the costs of acquisition are higher than the added value on the bottom line. Let alone lifetime value. These channels don’t bring you customers, they bring you waste that you should ignore because otherwise it will continue to eat your budget.

I know this sounds obvious and many believe that they already optimised channels, but specifically in organisations where primary marketing targets are sales-volume driven such a thought is at your own peril.

3. Your decision journey as a service

In my opinion this is the most important shift you need to make: do not approach the decision journey as a funnel, but as a service for potential customers.

As long as you approach the consumer decision journey purely as a funnel, I think you will miss your greatest opportunity for more sales that you create by approaching the decision journey as a service. A service that aims to help your (potential) customers with their needs during their journey from orientation to buying. This requires you not to think in terms what you need (sales) but what they need. An open door you may think, unfortunately one the customer gets slammed into her face often as well if you consider the drop-out rates in the various steps of “the funnel”.

If you take an outside -in perspective and seek to help your prospect you will find that an important feature of this journey is that it consists of many micro-decisions. The better you understand which decisions the customer’s journey is built from, the better you can offer help to the customer to make those decisions.

This means you need to engage with your customers not to be cool with the gang, but to understand their journey by identifying their goals, considerations, barriers, desired options and drivers behind choices.

Your decision journey should contain an overview of customer needs during each step, for each decision they need to make. Don’t be surprised if you identify 25 to 50 needs in this qualitative phase. With quantitative research you can determine which are most important and which are unfulfilled. Focus on those needs that are important and unfulfilled by designing new touchpoints and micro-journeys to help meet these needs. And focus your marketing on offering the target group the right touchpoint at the right time.

Which brings me to the last area.

4. Smart analytics

If you want to offer the right touchpoint at the right moment to the right prospect you need smart analytics. I consciously say “smart” because it is often thought that you should mainly collect as much data as possible to discover relationships in it.

That sounds great, but if you don’t think about which questions you want to answer and what information you actually need to make decisions, chances are you have a lot of data, but not the one you need to achieve your goal.

In short: in your design phase, think carefully about what you want to know about your potential customers and take care of it that you include obtaining that data in the design of your touchpoint / journey. This can also mean that you ask the customer an extra question to obtain missing data. Now you have data that you can make smart by analysing them and using the insights they deliver well.

Conclusion

Smart marketers adopt a service mindset and progressive CX-teams do not draw the line at the onboarding journey. Working together intensively, focussing on the right customers and channels, putting their needs first in each step of the decision journey and using data in a smart way, will open up new opportunities to create value for the customer and deliver highly valuable sales for your organisation.

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