Regardless of the item or service you are purchasing, your emotions can have an impact. If shopping for jewelry or clothing, even a special memory raises nostalgic vibes. 

When picking a home or vehicle or other big ticket item, thoughts about your childhood can sway your decision.

In a similar vein, if you’re shopping for a business service, the experiences you receive will help drive your decisions. These experiences can start even before you speak to someone on a website and continue to grow over time.

Understanding a customer’s journey is not a simple task. Measurements are needed at all of the physical and digital touchpoints of their transactions. 

That task has become even more complex in 2020. Throughout this year, the way we live, work, eat, play, and shop have all been impacted in different ways. These changes, while instigated by the pandemic, are going to stay with us for years to come.

With many businesses having to go in and out of lock downs throughout the course of the year, the corporate mindset has had to adapt.

This year, organizations have had to embrace remote working as a new normal amongst other challenges. Fortunately, many businesses have stepped up to the plate and reorganized the way they support customers.

Understanding customer value optimization

When it comes to growing a business, there are three key methods that can be used.

  1. Grow the total number of customers.
  2. Grow the average value of the transactions these customers make.
  3. Increase the quantity of transactions made per customer.

These are all fairly straightforward and common business practices. The requirements can be broken down into a formula to better enable analysis and tracking.

For an eCommerce organization, the formula for customer value optimization (CVO) is as follows:

G = T x CR x AOV

In this case, G (growth) is impacted by T (Traffic), CR (Conversion Rate) and AOV (Average Order Value). 

This formula is very useful in understanding your starting pain point, but do not make the mistake of assuming that an increase in “T” alone equates to an increase in loyalty or growth.

Customer behavior is not static — it is constantly changing and evolving. Companies that want to drive customer loyalty understand this and know they need to change also.

COVID impacted many businesses that lost significant customer revenue and sales over the course of 2020. However, while some businesses were negatively impacted, others had an uptick in their business prospects.

One area that has seen growth is credit repair. The best credit repair companies are seeing a surge in demand as the pandemic has impacted many individuals and their ability to make payments. 

Understanding these changing business conditions and rolling with them can rapidly propel a company to new levels.

Smart companies understand that acquisition is only one part of the equation. If they want to continue growing, they need to retain the customers they have. 

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Customers are looking for a personalized service that caters to their needs. With access to the internet and the ability to make purchases from around the world, businesses need to ensure they are giving enough weight to customer experience.

For companies, this means that they need to look at the entire customer journey and not just the acquisition stage. They need to consider how to improve every stage to ensure that new customers come and existing customers stay. 

The customer journey in 2020

Finding your customers in 2020 and beyond

The earliest step in the customer journey map is the discovery stage. This is a client’s first encounter with your brand and your first encounter with a new prospect.

The pandemic impacted many businesses around the world in different ways. Many organizations lost customers, making the acquisition of new prospects even more important.

Gaining new clients is an essential requirement for growth. It is during the discovery stage that you have the opportunity to make an excellent first impression. Hopefully, one that will stick with them for years to come. 

Consumers today use the internet more than any other tool in their research. In fact, 97% of users look online when trying to find out information about local businesses. By taking this into account, you can accelerate your growth.

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By focusing on local SEO, you can better enable your potential clients to find your business.

Consider the fact that the pandemic has impacted businesses around the world. If you think about how many times a company has needed to update their website with regards to operating hours alone, you’ll have some idea of the work.

While this is an effort, companies that fail to do it are providing a disservice to their clients. Customers depend on online information when planning their days.

By ensuring your information is accurate, relevant and useful, you’re helping to create that exceptional first experience. 

Improve customer engagement with your brand

Once your customers know who you are and what you do, you need to make sure that you’re interacting with them in a way that they appreciate. 

When building that seamless customer journey mapping template, there are some basic questions you should consider:

  1. What makes you better than your competition?
  2. What can you do to make the purchasing and CX process even smoother?
  3. What are the different pain points that you’ve identified?
  4. What are the different channels you offer for support and service?

These questions are a prerequisite, but as your customer continues to explore your services, they will also dig into review and social media channels.

Websites that specialize in reviewing services, like inVPN, which helps you choose the best VPN for your needs, are essentials for your brand when talking about online reviews. It is a product comparison that will help customers make the right choice. They are resources for consumers that you cannot put on the side. As a brand, you have to be careful of those specialists and make sure the reviews are in your favor. 

Right now, social media is a key resource for consumers in their research. Businesses are starting to embrace these channels also as a means of interacting with their clients. Companies with a powerful social media presence can help drive a greater degree of brand awareness.

Some companies have incorporated social media directly on their website through tools like chatbots

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The GoAura chatbot is an excellent example of this. By using actual employee social media profiles, customers feel that they are speaking to a person and not a robot. 

Want to build more trust? In your chat, explain that they’ll talk to a real person, like Florin Roebig:

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You could also engage customers and enrich their experience by offering free services to your prospects that show off the value of your service. 

The folks over at Wall Street Zen have included a free stock analysis tool for consumers to use on their website.  

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Including a service like this on your website will act like a magnet, pulling prospects in and encouraging them to engage with your brand. 

What does the purchase process look like in 2020?

Improving customer engagement and helping people find you is really all about one thing: getting them to make a purchase.

2020 has turned that process completely on its head with contactless delivery, curbside pickups, online ordering, and other ways of shopping that didn’t exist in years prior.

Companies that understand this changing paradigm, like True Blue Life Insurance, are ahead of the curve. By focusing only on online sales, they can immediately negate the need for in-person communication. With health concerns top of mind for everyone, life insurance sales are doing very well in 2020. 

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For businesses with multiple communication channels, one way of streamlining the process is through omnichannel. Omnichannel customer experience attempts to bring conversations from different channels your customers use into a single, unified whole.

With omnichannel in place, it doesn’t matter if your customers are using chat, social media, your website, or a call center. Regardless of the channel they use, they will obtain the same experience and have the same information.

Put customer experience at the heart of your operation

Getting a customer is important, but keeping them matters also, as we’ve already discussed. One way of ensuring that you keep them is by providing an exceptional customer experience.

To understand the value of the service you are providing, consider surveying your customers. Customer surveys are a useful method of measurement and can help identify areas of concern. 

Surveys are a great way of obtaining feedback and improving retention. By demonstrating to your customers that you are listening to their concerns, it shows that you value them and their opinion.

However, survey responses are only useful when the sample size is large. Consider different methods to incentivise your customers to respond.

In addition to surveys — which are internal tools — look at user reviews as another method of understanding your customers. 

Reviews — especially those on social media — need to be actioned in a timely manner, and with the right response. If your customers have had a poor experience, try to understand why and do what you can to rectify the issues. 

By showing that you care about your customers and that you are willing to work with them, you create a positive impression of your brand that other customers will notice. 

With the impact of the pandemic, normal in-person channels of communication are no-longer available. Make sure that you offer customers alternatives through chat, email, social media, and phone. 

It doesn’t matter how your customers choose to reach out to you. Regardless of the channel used, you need to offer them exceptional service that they will remember. 

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Build rabid fans through customer engagement

Growing your business through the acquisition of new customers and retention of existing ones is essential. Businesses with rabid fans, however, have the ability to combine these two activities to grow even faster.

Companies with customer brand advocates have customers that recommend the product or service to others. These customer advocates do not occur naturally.

Companies that wish to grow this type of relationship need to be continually engaging with their customers. This is an important activity in normal business times and even more important during the pandemic. 

By establishing a meaningful relationship with clients, they will feel closer to your business. This closeness will directly translate to increased business opportunities as your customers come to trust you even more.  

To increase customer engagement, consider incentivizing your customers with loyalty programs, discounts, and rewards. Personalized gifts are a great method of rewarding customers with something meaningful.

Consider the creation of user groups to further build relationships with your customers and create a deeper sense of community. 

Understanding the impact of 2020 on the customer journey

Businesses around the world are looking for ways to navigate through this crisis so that they can not only survive, but thrive. 

The expectations of customers today are higher than they’ve ever been before. While 2020 has changed the way companies and customers interact, it has not changed this fact.

As the decade progresses, customers will only become more empowered. This will only increase the value of customer experience to the business. 

Customer experience is an area that needs regular care and attention. Companies that ignore it are at significant risk. Organizations that give it the attention it deserves will not only see growth, but an increase in customer loyalty and retention.

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