The customer experience consists of three unique yet interconnected phases: self-service, sales and post-purchase. To deliver a superior customer experience, CMOs must tell an engaging story that stays connected throughout all three phases. Let’s look at each phase a little closer.
This phase of the customer experience is increasing in importance every day. The self-service phase is where prospects and customers are engaging with your corporate story without any human interaction from your organization. This is where they are learning more about your business, people, products and services predominantly online, consuming content and messages through a wide-range of digital channels. The self-service phase of the customer experience is critical to the buying and repeat-buying experience. In fact, according to research conducted by Kapost, a content management software company, “75 percent of the B2B buying process now takes place online and more than 60 percent of decision makers start this buying journey with informal research, using search engines and business blogs to research products, problems, and solutions.” To reap the greatest value in this phase of the customer experience you must cultivate engagement and trust. This is accomplished by delivering a consistent message across critical touchpoints in the self-service journey.
The buying journey is a critical aspect of the customer experience and consists of two distinct, yet highly connected processes: self-service and sales. The self-service phase, as we have discussed, takes place when prospects conduct independent research and consume your corporate messaging and content without contacting anyone at your organization. This is the stage when they evaluate if they want to engage in more detailed sales conversations. If they like your story, content and point of view, they will engage with a sales person. Your goal in the sales phase is to ensure sales professionals are well positioned to connect with, extend and add to the story consumed during the self-service phase. However, if marketing and sales are not working from the same sheet of music, the self-service and sales experience can break down because of inconsistent and disjointed messaging. That’s why it’s imperative that marketing and sales are working from a common Corporate Messaging Platform, and why sales enablement tools and selling conversations must be infused with strategic messages from this shared platform. Companies that connect the self-service and sales phase of the customer experience with a consistent corporate message spark meaningful and trusted connections with customers.
The post-purchase phase of the customer experience plays a significant role in initial purchase, repeat purchase, customer retention and loyalty. In fact, according to research conducted by New Business Strategies, “60 percent of Fortune 500 companies say their purchase decision is based on what the buyer believes their post-purchase experience will be like.”
Much like the self-service and sales process, customers engage with different areas of the organization, communication channels and partners after they have made a purchase. In fact, almost every aspect of the business plays a role in the post-purchase experience. Sales, sales support, product management, marketing, public relations, account management, professional services, and ordering / fulfillment, just to name a few. CMOs must get more involved in shaping the post-purchase experience because this is the phase of the customer experience where the promises and messages that have been communicated in the self-service and sales process must actually be fulfilled.
Now that you have a better understanding of each phase, we just have one question: What processes do you have in place to ensure your company is delivering a clear, consistent and connected story throughout all three phases of the customer experience?