How to improve your customer buying experience, build loyalty and drive organic growth
Written by Spencer Cowley, Copywriter at DeckLinks
One of the most important relationships that a company can foster is the one with its customers. Long-term success arises not only from making the initial sale, but also from establishing the kind of brand loyalty that breeds organic growth. That can only be accomplished when buyers are beyond satisfied with their purchasing experience and their ongoing experience as a customer.
The customer buying experience relies on a variety of factors that can impact the customer’s mindset in different ways. For the brand, the customer buying experience is the culmination of marketing’s intrigue, the payoff of a well-designed user experience, and the lasting reward of a meaningful customer success strategy. For buyers, this experience is, essentially, what it feels like to hang out and do business with a brand.
What is customer buying experience?
The customer buying experience tracks the entire lifecycle of a customer interacting with a brand. This experience is fundamental to the success of any business, as it embodies the way that a brand relates to and interacts with their potential and existing buyers. The customer buying experience also includes the stage following a first purchase (also referred to as just the customer experience), which involves the interactions based around customer retention, repeat purchases and continued satisfaction.
The phases of the customer buying experience typically look like this:
- Awareness: When a consumer becomes aware of your brand through any means (e.g. word of mouth, digital marketing). This phase not only encompasses the period of time in which a consumer first becomes aware, but also when they are re-encountering your brand in the world, before they are in an evaluating or purchasing mindset.
- Evaluation: When the consumer is evaluating their purchasing options for a specific product or service. This is when the customer will weigh your brand against your competitors.
- Purchase: When the consumer makes a purchasing decision on what and where to buy and becomes a customer of your brand.
- Post-Purchase: When the customer is using the product or service they purchased from your brand and considering whether or not it meets or exceeds their expectations for a positive experience.
- Repeat Purchase: When the customer is making the decision to buy your product or service again, try out a new version or renew a subscription. Depending on the purchase, this can be a good signal that brand loyalty has been established with the customer
Building Blocks of the Customer Buying Experience
While buyer experiences can vary slightly from customer to customer due to personal preferences, a solid marketing and user experience (UX) strategy should ensure that, no matter who you’re selling to, your customers feel good about following through on their purchases.
To better understand what sort of output creates the ideal customer buying experience, let’s break it down by each of the 5 phases. Both marketing and sales follow this timeline, so sales teams can take note of these strategies, too.
This is the meet-cute between your brand and your new customer — treat it as such. Make the moment memorable with an eye-catching digital marketing creative, a share-worthy blog post, or some other snackable content that engages and draws the customer to learn more. Suddenly, a random consumer becomes a potential customer who knows your brand’s name.
Example strategies and areas to focus on: Digital ads, social media posts, press releases/news features, content marketing, cold calling, competitor positioning.
This is when the conversation gets serious — the customer is interested in making a purchase soon. If they met your brand in the previous stage, this is when these customers interact with your brand more deliberately. It’s likely that they will visit your website or storefront to test the waters, explore your offerings and learn more about the brand. They may also be searching online for other reviews and information.
Example strategies and areas to focus on: SEO/SEM, website customer reviews and ratings, ecommerce functionality, lead follow-ups, sales decks, product discounts and special offers, time-based sales.
This is when the customer is ready to make a buying decision and chooses your brand — make it feel right. Remove any pain points that could lead to a poor buying process and help the purchase go off without a hitch. If this is a direct sale, make the lead-up to the purchase feel personal and easy while you assess buyer needs in the context of this specific purchase interaction. In some B2B contexts, ensure that the purchasing agent or manager is engaged and involved if the buyer utilizes them.
Example strategies and areas to focus on: Personalized social media ads, ecommerce functionality, lead follow-ups, sales decks, purchasing agent and purchasing manager engagement, customer community activation (welcome new buyers to existing community).
This is when, after customers buy your product or service, customer service and customer satisfaction take the spotlight — make sure they’re feeling good about their purchase. Check in with them to see how they like the product, gently ask for a review and make them feel like a valuable member of your wider customer community. Did they pick your brand’s product or service for a unique buying reason? We all see personalized advertising these days, but personalized customer retention starts here and is just as crucial, while being far less common.
Example strategies and areas to focus on: Cold check-ins, email marketing, review solicitation, customer community engagement, referral rewards, feedback systems for UX improvement.
5. Repeat Purchase
This is when the customer is ready to buy from your brand again — reward them for their loyalty.
Example strategies and areas to focus on: Cold check-ins, email marketing, continued customer community engagement, customer rewards including upgrades and discounts, referral rewards, feedback systems for UX improvement, personalized social media ads.
How can the customer buying experience be improved?
If you want your sales and customer buying experience to improve, consider examining the strategies and areas of focus outlined above for each phase of the customer experience. Humanizing the whole process should be a core focus as you work to improve your customer experience, because there is so much noise to cut through these days. It’s the more genuine, relatable voices that succeed in doing that.
Whether you are in direct B2B sales, an ecommerce seller or a small brick and mortar shop owner, keeping track of and more personally engaging with your buyers individually will provide much more value to every buyer. If done well, this can lead to much stronger brand loyalty, because your customers will feel satisfied and understood. Even if customers have a poor product experience, effective communication and retention strategies can save the relationship — especially if they have already had many positive customer buying experiences before one sour moment. When you do establish that kind of brand loyalty, organic growth is sure to follow, as your customers are more likely to refer their friends and family, brag about you, and continue to be your adjunct sales rep in the real world.
Deliver a more personal buying experience with DeckLinks
One way you can start to humanize and improve your sales and purchasing experience is to improve the way you communicate and analyze buyer responses. DeckLinks lets you create and share personalized client portals and presentations with a single link, and use video narration to add a personal touch — even from the other side of the globe. Plus, you can track the way that your buyers engage with your presentations so you can continue to improve your efforts and reengage more effectively in the future.
Ready to give DeckLinks a try? Learn more on our home page and start making your customer buying experience more human today