How are your customers?

Forbes proclaimed 2017 to be the year of the “empowered customer”, whereas 2018 is projected to be the year of the “overwhelmed customer”. In our eagerness to please, and meet every need through every channel available to us, it would appear that instead of informing our customers, we are overwhelming them. But how do we remedy our contribution to the information overload? Keep it simple!

‘Keep it simple stupid!’

Research into the information overload phenomenon has identified the ultimate simple solution – simplicity! ‘Great, that should slim down my work load considerably’ I hear you cry – wrong! The simple is the complex! It is the art of knowing everything, having every channel and means at your disposal, yet using strategic decision making to select which message, which audience, which channel and when. You may find that much of this revolves around identifying shopper’s pain points and subtly solving them.

‘How do we do that?’

Build trust through quality concise content that is what buyers need. Think about what kind of content you would be looking for when buying a product, if in doubt ask somebody independent, even better, ask your customers. There are various means of doing this, you could use brief on site surveys to catch people in the act and/or incentivised survey participation emails to follow up on their experience.

Be a trusted source, become a helpful friend

Providing guides to enable your potential buyers to learn about products, can be a real win-win. Information and ratings influence the ultimate purchasing decision and being the source of the content positions you as the authority, the trusted advisor. Collecting reviews on your website is valuable content – 88% of consumers report trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendation.

First port of call

What’s your first port of call when looking to make a purchase? I’ll tell you mine – John Lewis. I figure if a product is good enough to make the cut on John Lewis’ sales floor then it should be good enough for me. Their commitment to customer service and satisfaction is next level stuff and so they’re not going to sell products that will jeapordise that. Becoming that first port of call is aspirational stuff, but ultimately, I often move on from John Lewis in my search as other factors of importance shape my decision – ‘how soon can they deliver?’, ‘can they fit?’. ‘will they take the old one away?’, ‘what’s the warranty?’, ‘what’s the cost?’.

Make it easy to choose

The science of decision making is often not a simple, linear process. There are often many contributing factors leading to the ultimate purchase. Although research has shown that about 50% of buyers prefer relevant personalised offers (IDC Analysts) we can overdo the messaging and bamboozle our potential purchaser out of decision making. There is no single recipe for success, and many options worth considering. We can adopt a simple rationale when weighing up these options – does this improve the customer experience? If that box gets ticked, then add it into the mix.

Simplification tools

Providing a product comparison matrix for customers to add relevant products to is great where products have complex specifications. Enabling customers to easily identify the differences and more easily reach a conclusion.

Digital advisors can ask your customers key questions to respond with relevant insight, to guide your customer in their buying decision. This experience can be further enhanced through use of intelligence about that customer and previous purchases (where relevant).

Demonstrate a customer-centric approach

Not only having a customer-centric approach as a business, but demonstrating that to the customer is relationship growing, trust transforming, and sales converting stuff! Having the customer as your consistent frame of reference for marketing activity and business development will set your course for success. Potentially augmenting the information you hold in your CRM to enable further strategic segmentation will be a valuable investment. Customer profile mapping is a vital tool in the arsenal of intelligence on how they like to be communicated with, at what time, through what channel and the themes that they are most responsive to. It takes work to get smart in this way, streamlining strategically targeted content , but the rewards are there, it would be stupid not to keep it simple!