The most crucial thing in sales is the customer decision journey. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise!
Customers usually consider a lot before opting for your product. Sure, there are impulsive consumers. But most of the time, customers do a lot of research before stepping their foot in your store.
Your role as personnel in the sales field is to influence customers in their decision-making journey at whichever touchpoints necessary. It may be during their research phase or even after they have purchased the said product.
But what is this customer decision journey, and when does it start?
By now, you might have a faint idea of the same, but let us demystify it for you!
What Is The Customer Decision Journey (CDJ)?
In simple words, the customer decision journey is the various stages through which a customer goes through before opting for a product or service.
The process starts right when the customer becomes aware of the need and starts to search for different ways to solve the same. Then they look for the available options and viable alternatives. Some don’t waste much time finding the alternatives; instead, go with the popular option.
The interesting part about the customer journey is that it doesn’t finish with the purchase of the product.
The customer would analyze if the product they bought solved their problem or is worth the money and effort they put in.
If it’s a yes, they become loyal to the brand and go for it again. If the answer is a no, then either they seek a replacement or go for another product.
What’s worse is that the post-purchase experience plays a crucial role in the customer decision journey. If they aren’t satisfied with your services, the customers might develop an aversion to your brand, or worse, trigger negative word of mouth.
Well, there are a million ways to make sure that the customer had a positive customer experience or not. The easiest is to roll out surveys at different stages of the customer decision journey and analyze the responses.
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5 Stages Of The Customer Decision Journey
According to McKinsey’s framework of CDJ, the process starts with a stimulus or a trigger that makes the customer aware of the need.
The need triggers the whole journey that may or may not culminate in the purchase of the product. So let’s take a closer look into the different stages of the customer decision-making journey:
As mentioned earlier, the trigger ignites the spark of need in the customer.
Melissa accidentally broke her phone. She examined it to see if she could get it repaired but found out that it’s beyond repair. She concludes that she needs a new phone. This whole event can be considered the trigger that made the customer want a new product to satisfy her needs.
Initial Consideration of The Available Options
This is where the power of branding comes into play. The customer thinks about the most popular brands and starts searching for a product that fits their need and budget.
In the case of Melissa, she starts considering the different models from Apple, Samsung and OnePlus, as these are the brands that first came into her mind.
The detailed evaluation stage is where the customer starts to consider options beyond the popular brands. But this may not be true in every case. For example, impulsive customers don’t deeply research the viable options. Instead, they might settle with a popular brand and a product that is best rated.
Luckily for us, Melissa insists on deeply researching the specs offered by the various models. She identifies that she requires a phone that has good camera quality and offers long battery life. With this as the base conditions, she starts to analyze the options in her hand. She also weighs the features offered against the price and sees if the product is worth the money.
The tricky thing about this stage is that the time taken to complete this stage varies with customers. If you get a chance to interact with the customers during this stage, you can easily influence them into speeding the process and directing them to the purchase stage as quickly as possible.
If Melissa decides to search online for the same, then the brands’ online ads and marketing tactics would speed up the process. But, on the other hand, if she decides to stop by in a physical store, then the sales representative can influence her choices and show her a better option than what she had in mind.
Once the customer has made up their mind, they purchase the product or service. This is the action time for customers, and many a time, companies acknowledge this stage of CDJ alone. Unfortunately, this isn’t the right way.
Sure, this stage is where the customer takes some quantifiable action, but the whole process leading to this buying stage is quite important. How well the company managed to market their products, how well their representatives behaved when the customer reached out and how smooth the purchasing process was – all these matters!
Coming back to Melissa, She narrowed it down to a phone model, say Sample XYZ. She purchased it via the brand’s online store, and the delivery reaches the next day.
Until the movement she received her product in hand, Melissa will have many questions in her mind, and she would be continuously reassessing her choice. Thus, in her case, the buying stage doesn’t end with the payment, but only when the product reaches home. During this time, she is totally in control of whether to cancel the product order or to accept it.
The buying stage doesn’t end with the payment. It may work for the company, but for customers, it ends when they can lay their hands on the product or when they can use it.
The post-purchase experience is another crucial step in the customer decision journey. Ever since they have the product in hand, they constantly analyze it to see if they have made the right choice. Your role as a company is to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the product and your representative maintain great relationships with them.
During this stage, the customer judges your product and promotes or de-promotes it based on their experience. If they are totally satisfied with the product, they will suggest it to their friends, peers, or relatives.
You can send out customer satisfaction surveys to know if the customer is truly excited by your product. Your goal is to make sure that the customer gets nothing less than a wow experience. Then, with the customer satisfaction survey results in hand, you can decide what to do to make sure the customer is truly satisfied with your product.
Try out this free customer satisfaction survey template from SurveySparrow: Customer Satisfaction Survey Template
Now in the case of Melisssa, she didn’t like the phone she purchased. She got a phone with better camera quality and long battery life, but the storage capacity wasn’t up to the mark. She decides to go for the model in the same series with higher storage capacity. The brand representative agreed that they would help her with the same. She received the new set, and now she is all happy!
Had the company rejected her request, it would have triggered a negative word of mouth effective. But as the representative at the side was so understanding, Melissa was even more impressed with the brand and the product and decided to recommend the same to her friends!
Not all customers are like Melissa. In fact, every customer is different, and that’s why it’s important to make sure that you understand the customer decision journey that leads to the purchase of the product.
When you are thorough with this, you get to make maximum use of the various touchpoints where you come in contact with the customer. In these instances, you can easily influence the customer so that they give your product serious consideration.
Before signing off, let us remind you:
There is a thin line between influencing your customer and asserting them to buy your product. It’s best for your company to figure out what your tone would be when you interact with the customers.
Less of persuasion, more of assistance. Let that be the goal!