Want More Buyers? Revisit the Customer Acquisition Journey
If you put stock in one HBR thought piece, the future will be an ongoing customer acquisition cycle. Customer retention and loyalty will remain important, but only through the lens of a procurement mindset. Though we don’t anticipate a full-stop shift from retention to acquisition, we do suggest that businesses begin to revisit their approach to the customer acquisition journey if they hope to continue to generate new revenue. Here’s what you need to consider during each stage of the buyer journey.
The Awareness Stage
Consumers discern their goals and challenges before you enter the equation, right? Not necessarily. Consider the impact of group influence. A potential buyer might be unaware of specific needs or goals until a peer introduces the idea. Before the car became the American mode of transition, who knew slow travel times were such an issue? Until the iPhone went mainstream and GPS was eventually added, who recognized just how often they needed real-time directions? Both were novel concepts and depended in part on word of mouth to catch on.
Word of mouth from friends influences 81% of consumers, a group that has expanded across online communities and social media channels. Rave reviews from peers about new products or services can shape consumers’ ideas about what they need. With first-hand accounts playing a significant part in the formation of consumer beliefs, your business needs to prioritize exceptional customer care and outbound sales interactions or risk losing brand evangelists who can plant the seed for potential consumers.
In fact, your customer care and sales etiquette can bind the consumers’ goal and your solution in the same breath to improve acquisition in the long run. How do you know it is working? Though the impact is difficult to directly measure, monitoring customer service metrics like CSAT and Net Promoter Score (NPS) can indicate how effective word of mouth will be for your business. In this instance, working with an outsourced customer care partner can improve your brand loyalty and your ability to direct leads into the sales funnel.
The Consideration Stage
In our digital world, consumers are now researchers. As many as 88% of consumers conduct preliminary research, using online channels to inform their decisions. With limited direct interaction between your prospects and sales people, your organization needs to work smarter to maintain control over the customer acquisition journey, particularly at this consideration stage.
For example, self-service channels provide a great opportunity to reach potential customers in new ways. As consumers visit your website to research your products or services, live chat or chat bots can offer them a direct channel to ask questions they can’t quickly answer. In fact, 35% of people say they would use chat bots to get detailed answers or explanations. These channels help your business to guide the buyer journey in a direction that makes it easier to earn the “yes” down the road. And by outsourcing aspects of live chat, you can implement efficient processes from the start, positively representing your brand and identifying promising leads.
There’s also significant value in providing prospects with helpful information and insight via a company’s website or social channels that simultaneously captures leads. Think downloadable pieces or guides that buyers can review, in exchange for contact information, as they consider their options. From there, your outbound sales support team can follow up, building connections with prospects until they are ready to make their final decision.
The Purchase Stage
When buyers are ready to make the purchase, there’s no time to waste. A sale with your competitor is just a click away. Equip both inbound and outbound sales support teams with the means to lock down your customer the moment the decision is made.
On the inbound side, that constitutes a smooth sales process. An easy ecommerce portal or efficient inbound sales staff are key to this process. If the sales process is difficult to navigate or there are hiccups along the way, there will be greater customer falloff. Moreover, you want to build trust, conveying the buyer is in good hands. To achieve that end, inbound agents need to be PCI-DSS compliant, protecting consumers’ credit card information with payment processing best practices.
Good outbound sales requires a number of customer acquisition strategies to be in place. Reinforcing your differentiators, identifying any upselling opportunities, preparing buyers for any post-sale events, and processing the sale itself all need to go smoothly if you’re going to keep the buyer interested. With personalization a growing priority, customers need to feel like any follow up is individualized, not some mass-produced message.
The Whole Customer Acquisition Journey
What’s the common thread? In the end, it’s providing consumers with as many touch points as possible to sustain their journey and earn a “yes”. Greater connections through word of mouth about your exceptional service, live chat interactions, and a smooth buying process will help increase customer acquisition. Though it can be difficult to fine-tune these processes on your own, companies that remain relevant and continue to generate revenue will need to stay attuned to the buying cycle.
Want to improve your results (and revenue) through the customer acquisition journey? Read our case study “How a Media Giant Doubled Outbound Sales Acquisitions in One Year.”
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