As online shopping continues to grow in the retail sector, what will become the driving force behind purchase decisions? It seems that if all factors are equal, customer experience is the real differentiator.
In today’s market, consumers can get what they want just about anywhere -- a large department store, a local boutique or an online seller. It’s no longer enough to offer something people need. Sellers need to offer what people want. To accomplish this, you must distinguish your brand in other ways -- customer experience, loyalty programs, shareable content, brand consistency and a strong social media presence.
Turn social media into your roadmap.
In the past, determining what customers wanted was a bit of a guessing game. Considering that rationality isn’t what drives most shopping experiences, deciphering why one marketing method worked while another didn’t could keep an entrepreneur up at night. Social media has changed all that by giving businesses a wealth of data about what customers want based on what they share with their friends, family and followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.
Businesses can use this data to understand what motivates consumers to share. This ultimately changes branding, marketing and sales approaches. People don’t just buy a product. They want the experience that comes with it. A positive buyer experience helps determines repeat purchases and referrals, so why isn’t that the focus of every company’s marketing efforts? People use social media to share the best and the worst things in their lives, which includes their purchasing decisions. Therefore, companies that master the customer experience will generate sales and referrals.
Now is the time to focus on forming the customer experience. Instead of focusing on the product you sell or the service you provide, concentrate on giving the customer a standout experience on your website and social media channels by providing prompt and knowledgeable customer service. If you build a relationship with these shoppers, they’ll trust your brand above others.
Developing a customer experience that’s strong enough to translate into a social media share isn't a mystery. Customers are loyal to companies that put them first in every facet of business, from an interactive website to supporting a cause that interests customers. The experience of connecting with your business is something that customers carry with them and can be later translated into customer referrals, which will grow your brand awareness exponentially.
It’s not only about developing a good product.
Today, the best products aren’t always the best-selling products. The bestsellers are the ones that offer the best customer experience. Previously, a good marketing campaign was what drove sales, even for average products. Now it’s the customer experience that makes or breaks a purchase.
Create positive customer experiences, and you will drive sales and referrals. Your product will be extremely shareable if you offer an experience that stands out from your competitors. Companies that focus on only one factor of the buyer’s journey have plenty of room to improve by targeting the whole customer experience, from finding the product to purchasing it.
Give customers an experience they want to share.
Consider what Organic Valley did in its most recent video ad. The company realizes that women are its target audience and humorously acknowledges the challenges of being a working professional and pokes fun at the “perfect” lives of some people on social media. Busy women relate to that ad, and when people relate to an ad, they share it.
In the promo, Organic Valley has clearly studied what its primary customers post on social media. The popularity of the ad suggests the company has made a real connection with its customers on a personal level. Companies that can understand their audience, create highly relevant content and master the art of building a shareable experience can leverage social media in a whole new way.
What exactly is a shareable experience? Simply put, it's when a customer sheds the identity of the generic buyer and instead enjoys individualized treatment as a valued customer. Today’s consumers are stepping away from large, impersonal corporations and embracing companies that make the effort to form a personal connection.
The brands customers talk about on social media are those that offer a truly outstanding experience. You can improve the customers’ experience by listening to what they want and staying up to date with the latest trends. Create a buyer-centric business model, and the referrals will roll in organically.