Understanding Social Customer Experience Path to Purchase Behaviors

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Understanding Social Customer Experience Path to Purchase Behaviors

Understanding Social Customer Experience Path to Purchase Behaviors

One doesn’t have to look far to find data supporting the notion that the marketing landscape is undergoing rapid and significant change. The ubiquitous presence of mobile technology is at the epicenter of the empowered consumer groundswell.

This groundswell has significant implications for brands in general and marketers in particular.

Not the Same Old Funnel

The purchasing funnel has been the traditional model used by marketers. Essentially this model assumes customers would become aware of a brand, consider it, decide to try it and then become loyal to the brand.

McKinsey & Company conducted extensive research and discovered this model does not work well in the current marketing environment for a couple of reasons. The traditional model is wide at the beginning of the journey and narrow at the end. This means people are aware of a lot of brands and they narrow the list as they move through the funnel.

Secondly, the model is linear, it assumes consumers move through the awareness to loyalty journey sequentially.

Going in Circles

McKinsey discovered a very different model, one that is more circular. Instead of starting with a large number of brands to consider, consumers begin the journey with only a few and then add to the consideration set as they move along the path. Consumers are much more social, seeking advice from friends and even other consumers who are strangers.

In my last post I suggested mapping the buying process to help marketers understand this new behavior.

Mobile Shopping Life Cycle

Chuck Martin has studied the shopping patterns of the new empowered consumer and he believes the traditional purchasing or sales funnel has been replaced by the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle.

In his book, Mobile Influence, Martin identifies six phases that make up the new pattern. They are:

  • The Setup: This is the pre-buy early research process; often at home.
  • The Move: Here the consumer is on the move, could on the way to the store or running an errand.
  • The Push: Now the consumer is on location, perhaps in a brick and mortar location.
  • The Play: This is the actual selection process. Consumers are near the actual product they are considering.
  • The Wrap: The consumer has moved to the point of purchase.
  • The Takeaway: The consumer has purchased the product or service and is now sharing the experience, perhaps taking pictures or making comments on their social networks.

Marketing in the Mobile Life Cycle

Each of the steps outlined in the Mobile Life Cycle provide moments of opportunity for brands to sway consumers to consider, try, use, re-use or recommend their brand. Martin calls these Influence points.

Brands must now understand how consumers are moving through this shopping life cycle. More importantly, they must be prepared to engage consumers at each point along this new path.

Re-imagining Your Business Model

Understanding the movements of an empowered consumer starts with a customer-centric perspective. According to Strategy & PWC author’s human-centered design (HCD) is the term for reshaping your entire business around the customer or user experience.

Though challenging, this focus is based on empathy and it engages consumers across many different channels. Businesses embracing HCD look and operate more like start-ups than traditional organizations, displaying creativity, speed, flexibility, innovation, collaboration and a bias for getting things done.

The Stakes are High

Some studies show some sobering statistics:

  • As many as 89% of customers will leave after a bad customer experience
  • 64% of brands received an Ok, Poor or Very Poor rating from their customers
  • 63.9% of customers indicated customer service was more important than price when deciding to continue doing business with a company.

Increasingly social media is playing a significant role in helping brands improve the customer experience by responding to their complaints and concerns. Brands need to pay attention to the social conversation, especially to the platforms where they have a presence.

Often brands are intimidated by the prospect of addressing customer service issues on social media. My fellow contributor Sofie De Beule addresses 5 common misunderstandings about social customer service. By debunking these misunderstandings, brands can implement some basic processes that will help brands monitor and address customer concerns.

The Trust Factor

In the new circular path consumers trust each other, even complete strangers, more than they trust brands. Brands must work diligently to deliver on their promises, and operate with as much candor and transparency as possible.

Brands that communicate and behave responsibly, especially when there are difficulties, are typically rewarded with loyal customers. Today consumers have access to information from a wide array of sources, so the risk of not disclosing can be far greater then simply being candid.

Earning trust is challenging, keeping it is even more difficult. It requires vigilance at all levels within the organization.

Here are 6 practical tips for building relationships & establishing trust with social media.

How Do you Rate?

You may not be ready or able to re-imagine your business model, but that doesn’t prevent you from adapting to the new environment. You can begin the journey by soliciting feedback from your customers, employees and suppliers. Ask them questions like:

  • How can we improve?
  • Would you recommend our product or service to a friend?
  • What else would you like to see us provide?

Feedback can be an effective tool if one is prepared to deal with and fix problems and processes.

In addition to highlighting problems, feedback can be the source for new innovative ideas.

What’s Next?

In future posts I’ll examine each of the Influence points, suggesting ideas and best practices for each. Have you started the HCD re-imagination process? What about other techniques or approaches?

About the Author:

Joe Ruiz

This monthly Social Customer Experience Marketing column is contributed by Joseph Ruiz. Joseph is President of Strategic Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing and consulting firm specializing in web-based integrated Relationship Marketing. Joseph thrives on the ever-changing nature of marketing in the digital age, embracing interactive opportunities, while applying three decades of hands-on expertise in online and traditional marketing. When he’s not helping business-makers navigate through complex marketing challenges, Joseph enjoys reading, working out and traveling just about anywhere…anywhere you can get a digital signal, that is. +Joseph Ruiz

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