The customer journey is specific to the digital and human interactions, or touchpoints, that your customers and potential customers have with your product, service, and brand. In B2B, there is an ever-increasing focus on the customer journey and how we can positively impact the overall customer experience to drive retention.
Where does the customer journey begin?
According to this graph from IDC, a market intelligence provider, the journey starts long before meeting with YOU:
Buyers have become more self-directed in gathering information about products and solutions to meet their business challenges. For example, they explore what you have to offer via content on your company website, like case studies, video testimonials, and whitepapers. Are you making your website navigation easy for a potential customer? Are you personalizing the experience?
Live chats and bots are commonplace on B2B websites. There is a relatively new emerging technology that’s called a “revenue acceleration platform.” This technology allows companies to promote key messages and features on specific pages throughout the site, providing consistent and relevant messaging at every step of the buyer’s journey. It revolutionizes the experience by allowing you to treat all site visitors like very important people and engage targeted buyers in more personalized 1-to-1 conversations.
One platform vendor at the forefront of this technology is Drift. They help level up the customer experience with their platform and accelerate revenue opportunities by servicing buyers as responsively and personally as customers.
If you view the customer journey through this lens, you have the opportunity to create an easy-to-navigate, step-by-step content strategy, including SEO, to offer an exceptional digital experience. This positive experience encourages the buyer to continue the journey with you.
By the evaluate stage, buyers have clearly defined their needs and are now considering their options. They read social media posts, product and analyst reviews, and watch product demos.
Harnessing the power of social media can quickly serve up these opportunities to assess your products and services. And there is no greater way to build trust than your current customers sharing their success stories on social media.
Free product trials have become ubiquitous for most software companies, especially SaaS companies. Trials offer a limited-time experience with your product or service. Most people utilize free trials to get the most out of them.
Are you creating a routine in their minds that eventually makes your product necessary for them and their business? Free trial offers make an impression that your company/product can be trusted.
In the B2B world, this stage often transitions the digital experience to a much more human interaction. At the purchase stage, a customer reference call may be requested. A satisfied customer willing to speak with a prospect is a compelling testimonial of trust that your brand can offer buyers.
But why wait for the buyer to request a reference? At this stage, many companies realize they need a customer reference program if they don’t already have one. A customer reference program is not just a ‘program.’ A well-managed customer reference program provides a framework for engagement that further builds sustainable relationships for future growth and drives advocacy.
After the purchase has been made, you have the opportunity to create an exceptional customer onboarding experience. This is a critical time for your new customers because they want reassurance that they have made the right decision by choosing your brand. Beginning with the product implementation, are you providing a thoughtful plan as well as engagement touchpoints?
Once successfully onboarded, this is an excellent time to take a pulse on customer satisfaction. Net promoter surveys and similar tools are instrumental in letting you know if your new customers are satisfied.
How can you continue to offer experiences that provide your customers a reason to expand their footprint with your products and services? Many companies employ account-based marketing strategies.
Account-based marketing focuses on the customer’s needs and deploying the most effective tactics to nurture value-added conversations with key customer stakeholders. New business needs may be uncovered that your products and services can address.
The renew stage is an important indicator for any vendor. Will this customer become a repeat customer and possibly a brand advocate?
The experiences the customer has had with your company up until now helps or detracts from customer retention. Have you offered the customer any value-added experiences, such as participating in an online customer advocacy community, a customer advisory board, and/or a user-testing program?
Each experience counts in the customer journey. Providing opportunities for your customers to become a part of your business and stay engaged is critical to customer retention.
Many customers will purchase from you, be satisfied with your products and services, and yet may not frequently engage with your brand or proactively talk about it in public formats. This is your standard customer reference.
Empowering your customers with opportunities to share their positive experiences in creating content, engaging socially, and in analyst reviews help create advocates. Offering a customer advocacy program is a proactive approach to organizing your happy customers around your brand and thereby attracting more.
That’s what makes advocacy such a valuable stage of the journey. Advocacy isn’t the end of engagement with your customers but the beginning.
The Ongoing Customer Experience
Along the customer journey, you have several opportunities to offer unique and meaningful experiences with your brand. But where does the journey begin?
Think of the customer journey as an ongoing experience, one you can enhance with personalized digital touches and human interaction.
One of the best ways to create a powerful experience that leaves a lasting impression is to turn your passionate customers into brand advocates. Buyers want to hear from their peers. Amplifying an advocate’s voice through the customer journey builds trust for your brand, shortens the sales cycle, and drives customer retention.