In Part 1, I covered the first three stages of the customer journey. Now I will discuss the last three stages of the customer journey, which includes Pre-Purchase, Purchase, and Post-Purchase. A lot of you may wonder, what is the purpose of splitting up “Purchasing” into such granularity? Well, I’ll tell you why in this article and how it transforms the customer journey into a cyclical model.
For starters, let’s address the PRE-PURCHASE stage. As discussed in the previous article, the decision-making process incorporates a plethora of external information sources but this step points directly at the main corporate website. This is due to the fact that the decision has already been made, now the potential customer wants to know where he/she can purchase this particular product/service, find a store location nearby, check inventory, compare models, and identify options & accessories. Needless to say, all this information must be available and eloquently presented on the main website. Social media is elemental in this stage as well because people value a second opinion. Allowing the potential customer to seamlessly share the product/service within their circle of friends via social media and obtain real-time feedback plays a major role in facilitating the actual purchase of that item in consideration. Not only does this facilitate purchase, the potential customer advertises the product/service by sharing it through social media channels.
The PURCHASE stage is fairly straightforward. It’s all about the experience. Simply put, purchasing a product is a moment of satisfaction for many people and enhancing that experience leads to loyal/repeat customers. Additionally, people have a tendency to share negative experiences so that is something to avoid at all costs. This sharing mentality leads to my earlier ‘cyclical’ model comment but we will get back to that later. Another thing to note is the takeover of mobile devices, which I brought up in the previous article as well. Most folks are still reluctant to make important purchases on mobile devices. However, that notion is slowly but surely dissipating, especially amongst the younger generation. If a customer is unable to make a purchase through a smart phone due to the lack of responsive web design, that will equate to a bad purchasing experience. Or even worse! By disrupting that individual’s procurement process, he/she may decide to forego the purchase after all.
Last but not least comes the POST-PURCHASE stage. At this phase, the customer will be critiquing the product/service they have acquired. Some folks will be more vocal than others but every single customer will have an opinion. People are more likely to post a comment or review if they have a negative experience because to them, it’s a form of venting. People are also more prone to sharing opinions when they’ve had an extraordinarily positive experience. Now, in order to avoid an overabundance of negative remarks lurking on the World Wide Web, it is essential to place focus on aftercare. In our current world where everything is transparent, turning a negative into a positive is a requirement for an organization selling a product or service. For instance, a customer tweets that the item they purchased was damaged during transit. You can turn that into a positive by immediately addressing the complaint within twitter and resolving the issue on the very same platform. In addition to aftercare policies, providing an incentive for leaving comments and reviews is a must. A customer won’t be bothered to share their experience if it’s a good one because that is the expectation. However, if you provide a quantitative incentive for customers to share their opinions, it motivates them to take a few minutes out of their lives to leave a comment. There is a slew of ways in creating incentives to promote sharing but that will be another article themed around Digital Marketing campaigns.
Finally, I can dive into explaining the cyclical customer journey. All of the comments, reviews, ratings, bashings, and praises that are an outcome of the post-purchase stage become the source of information for the first three stages of the customer journey. What it comes down to is the ye olde saying, “No press is bad press.” The more a product/service is shared, the more the visibility and awareness. Product/service research and decision-making processes are based mainly on the feedback of previous customers.
I truly hope this two part article has been somewhat of an interesting and enlightening read for you. If you have anything to add, please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’m always interested in what others have to say. Remember, everybody has a voice that can reach the world now!