When I was a child, if we wanted to buy something new then we would:
- Go shopping down the local high street and ask the shop-keepers for advice;
- Speak to a door-to-door salesman;
- We would look in one of the catalogues that my Mum used to get; or
- We would ask family and friends.
Back then, that was the start of our customer journey.
Now, before we do anything we, more often than not, ‘Google’ what we are looking for. That is the start of our new customer journey.
In doing so, what we look for is signs of trust, quality, price, reputation, recommendations, information, reports and other signs that will help us make up our minds about who to talk to next.
The signs are similar to what we used to look for, it’s just the way that we are accessing them and spreading news, information and feedback has changed and is being accelerated by social media and other tools.
These changes are presenting challenges for many businesses.
Recently, I’ve come across this as I have been doing quite a bit of work with companies on their strategy and growth plans.
Our discussions usually start with their understanding about how they do things, how things are changing and the challenges that they face. Challenges like:
- Traditional marketing, advertising and media methods are becoming more and more difficult to make work
- Customers have a voice and brands live or die by their reputation
- Internet advertising spend has overtaken TV, radio and print advertising spend
- Customers have greater choice and tools with which to make informed decisions
- Customers are sharing memories and viewpoints more easily than before
- Google and other search engines are the new high street and your location and ranking will be driven by your reputation
Whilst this changing reality is not a shock to many businesses, it can present some challenges as it doesn’t fit with their models of how they do things.
What I am finding is that many companies that are quite a few years old can get stuck in a certain way of doing things as it has worked for them for many years and they are only just starting to see the need to change.
These challenges are common and businesses that don’t respond can lose business or miss out on opportunities because of a mismatch between what they do, what they deliver to a customer and what that new and potential customer is now looking for.
To grow we have to be adaptable, we have to change, we have to be aware and respond to the changing needs and habits of our customers.
It’s not an excuse to say that lack of skills in blogging or twittering or being on Linked In or of the use of video or customer service or whatever is holding you back. All of those skills are available and can be hired, outsourced or bought on a project basis. What is key is that you need to start to think of these skills as elements in your marketing mix, these are elements that will help build that ‘Google’ trust, that will help build a better customer experience and match the experience that we deliver as businesses to our customers journey.
If you are finding that your market place is changing and that you need to respond to the changing needs of your customers, below is a simple process and a few questions that will help you deliver a customer experience that matches your customers journey:
- What experience do we want to deliver now and in the future?
- What are we delivering today?
- Where are the gaps and what needs to change to create the desired experience?
- How will we test the changes and measure customer reaction?
- What training and collateral needs to be created to facilitate the change?
Would you add any other steps into this process?
Thanks to rAmmoRRison for the image.