Buyers' Journey
Content Marketing, Customer Engagement, Human Centred Service Design, Service Design

Why is Your Influence on the Buyers’ Journey Matters?

When we go to a hill station, just before we enter the hill station, we start to the signboards of the hotels. The hotels know the journey their potential customers take to reach them. Knowing the journey make them act to influence the buyer’s decision.

Mussorie Euttaranchal

But this is just signboards. Imagine, if the hotel had a special booth for the travellers just before the hill station area starts, where they would give the hill station map with important destinations and welcome drink to all the travellers.

Would the chances of conversion of potential customers becoming actual customers increases?

Buyers journey starts much before they actually touch your premise or site.

Before any service is launched, the designing experience of the service is a very important stage of the business.

Railway service can’t be launched only with track and railway coaches.

Indian-Railways-Trakin

You need platforms, ticket booking counters, platforms need sitting arrangements, coach positions indicators, train indicators, the station needs vehicle parking arrangements for commuters and of course timetable.

Then comes in train experience. Quality of berths, food, toilets, bedrolls, staff, etc.

Hindustan Times

A patient’s journey in the medical ecosystem starts much before the patient is admitted to the hospital.

Pre-Service Stage:

He visited family doctor, local diagnostic and path lab, visited the doctor for the 2nd opinion, visited Google to know other case studies, review of the suggested hospital. After travelling this the patient comes to the hospital and his internal hospital journey begins.

Actual Service Stage:

He pays for the admission, meets the resident doctor, admitted to the relevant ward, hospital staff and facilities interacts with him, surgeon meets him, taken for surgery, surgery takes place in OT, taken to ICU post the surgery, visitors experience, taken back to the ward, dietician meets him, discharged, billing department.

Post Service Stage:

Goes back home, follow up procedures, writes an online review.

Now as a service provider, one can understand what is the importance of knowing the entire buyers’ journey.

Knowing buyers’ journey helps business in knowing every touch points the customers have travelled to avail the service and touch points within the service the customer is likely to encounter. This also makes them aware of the content required at each stage to help and influence the customer.

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“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world you are one.”  Robert Rose

The Moot Questions:

  1. Do you know the buyers’ journey your potential buyers are likely to take?
  2. Have you displayed buyers’ journey map in your office for everyone to know their role in the journey stages?
  3. How ready are you on the journey path to facilitate the buyers on their journey?
  4. How early in the journey can you join the buyers to hand hold and deliver expected or exceeding the expected experience?

KYC is not mere compliance. Knowing Your Customers and Potential Customers i.e. Target audience could be a powerful marketing strategy. Companies use the buyers’ persona and buyers’ journeys to know more about the customer segments and their unique requirements.

Machine learning is all about learning about customers from their past behaviours.

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A customer feels frustrated when the company is not serious about the experience they wish to provide. In order to be serious, the focus should shift from sales only to help and sale.

In order to help the target audience and therefore better the customer experience knowing buyers’ journey is critical.

There are three stages of buying anything. These three states are repeated twice in the journey.

Awareness:

Fuel-efficient cars are budget friendly

Consideration:

I am spending too much on commuting, I need to buy own vehicle. Shall I buy a car?

Decision:

I want to buy a car.

At each stage, relevant content can influence the buyers. This is an opportunity for content marketing.

After the decision stage, a new journey commences for getting an answer – which car to buy?

Awareness:

Asking Friends: Opinion – Go for Maruti its low on maintenance. Go for 2nd hand car.

Watching advertisement

Online Reviews: Self-research – Finds Hyundai also cost-effective and better-designed cars

Consideration:

Family Discussion: Daughter insists on a new car and Honda car.

Decision:

Considering all the above stages, buying a new Honda car.

Here again relevant content can influence the buyers. An opportunity for content marketing.

“Content marketing is about celebrating what makes your business unique. It is, inherently, about making the business more social and more human.” Robert Rose, Managing Content Marketing

Next comes the buying action stage.

There are two dealers. The decision is based on proximity and online service reviews.

After all these pre-research, the potential customer reaches the showroom.

The Showroom Experience:

  • Hardware: Location, ambiance, test drive of the car
  • Software: Grooming of the salesperson, hospitality, product knowledge, payment terms, documents required, loan facility, delivery schedule, car registration facility, divulging need to know the information.

Showroom A

What customers see: Signboard, seated security guard, silent in-store ambiance, display of cars, chit-chatting salespersons.

What Customer thinks: Everything is synchronized well but human touch lacks. A salesperson is lackluster.  

How Customer feels: My first car but no enthusiasm from the salesperson. Feels unsupported.

The processes at play: Welcome Policy, Inquiry Form Design, Staff Training, Payment Policy, Customer Support, and Customer Experience Policy.

The customer family returns without booking the car.

Imagine after so much of pre-research this showroom was selected to buy the car and potential customer leaves without buying. (What is applicable to a store also applies to a website.)

Showroom B

What customers see: Signboard, another signboard with service centers around, another signboard for direction for existing customers and new inquiries, active security guard, light music and sweet smell in store ambiance, happy photos of existing customers with the car, display of cars with balloons, a poster of history of cars, salespersons ready to receive customers.

Carindia

What Customer thinks: Everything is synchronised well, Sales people are more than ready to help, taking interest in the family members, asks son his choice of car.   

How Customer feels: Positive vibration and happy feelings.

The processes at play: Welcome Policy, Inquiry Form Design, Staff Training, Payment Policy, Customer Support, and Customer Experience Policy.

Pays advance and booked the car.

Up till now, the customer has not experienced the real product. We are only on the buying journey experiences.

The Car Experience:

Finally comes the product experience which is a car. Its upholstery, engineering, fuel efficiency, design, etc.

After Sales Experience:

Service experience. How the company deals with postsales service and complaint issues of the product.

Imagine the overall customer experience if the company is only designing car experience and leaving everything else to chance assuming it not their area of concern?

Stephen Covey’s theory of area of concern and area of influence apply to service design and overall customer experience.

While designing a service, every touch point preceding the purchase by a potential customer and succeeding the sales are the area of concern for a service provider.

Whether a service provider is able to influence these touch points is a matter of efforts and ability.

Steps to a better customer experience design:

  • Map buyers’ journeys – Digital and physical
  • Know the buyers’ persona to know their expectation at the touch points on the journey
  • Generate content to help buyers at every touch point on the journey

Each touch point is an opportunity to influence the target audience with relevant and helpful content. Even customer review sites can be influenced by inviting existing customers to write reviews.

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The entire buyers’ journey and buying process are the areas of concern for the service providers. The stage at which the influence starts decides the fate of the deal.

Catch them young is applicable here, catch them earlier on the journey. This can be done in helping them in proper and objective navigation to arrive at the right decision.

If the focus of catching them early is merely sales, then chances are that potential customer will not get emotionally attached to the brand. Sales closure might be difficult in this case. No one likes push-marketing.

Help them on the journey and remain available to them whenever they need you.   This approach will pull them in to deal with your company.

The challenge is to expand the area of influence on the journey with the knowledge of the journey maps, creating relevant content to distribute across the journey, and designing effortless experience.

Customers are frustrated whenever the ease is missing from the experience.

Like the businesses demand ease of doing business policies from the Governments, customers are also demanding ease of doing business experience from their service providers.

Wow! is aspirational, ease is a necessity.

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