How to Grow Your Business in an On-Demand World
The way consumers engage with your business is changing. If you want your company to maintain a competitive advantage then it is important to take note of the shift in consumer behaviours and make sure you’re embracing technology to stay ahead of your competitors in an increasingly on-demand world.
The most prominent shift in recent years is that consumers have become much more knowledgeable. After all, most have access to powerful computers in their back pockets 24/7. Having access to the internet means that consumers can research for themselves before deciding to buy a product and/or service as well as who they should buy it from. This means it is now vitally important to be buyer-centric, not seller-centric. We know that people typically progress through a journey to become a customer, this is known as the Buyer's Journey. In order to be present as a user progresses through the buyers journey it's necessary to deliver content that enhances ad related to each stage so that our potential customer begins to develop a relationship with you and begins to trust your brand to solve their problem. Your aim should be to educate customers and help them succeed, meaning that your website needs to provide useful, informative content, so that your business is viewed as a reliable authority and a resource. This is known as Inbound Marketing.
The Buyers Journey
The buyer’s journey can be split into 3 defined stages:
- Awareness – potential customers are just becoming aware of their problem, but they are probably not aware of all their potential solutions, or your business yet. The potential customer must be targeted with educational content to provide them with more information about their problem as well as potential solutions to that problem.
- Consideration – the consumer is fully aware of heir problem/need and is now researching and considering different options as they try to find a solution. Content should be created to help the consumer find the best solution for them, giving them things to think about and consider, pushing them closer to a purchasing decision.
- Decision – the customer is now well-informed, aware of the pro's and cons, clear on the options that best meet their needs and is ready to make a purchase. Content should be available to encourage them that your product and/or service provides the ideal solution for them and allays their reservations, so they feel empowered to buy from you.
To attract customers, it is important to create content (both written, creative, image and video) that engages people relevantly and appropriately at every stage of the buyer’s journey.Modern consumers want personalisation, convenience and do not expect friction in their purchase process.
Delivering a Great Customer Experience
Once you’ve attracted customers to your website and they have purchased, your responsibility is not over. It's common knowledge that it is more cost and time-effective to retain a customer than to win a new one, so working to keep that customer loyal and re-purchasing and/or recommending you is of equal importance to winning them in the first place. Delivering a great customer experience that keeps them coming back for more is vital because not only do you keep that customer, even more crucially, they recommend you to their networks and help you win even more new customers. In a truly effective, customer-centric business, existing customers are the best sales people they have.
Customer experience is becoming more and more important, meaning that to achieve success, sales needs to move from offering choice to offering convenience as well. Your business should offer a tailored solution to support customers, but the solution has to be tailored tot hem and their needs, not your business! This means asking the right questions, understanding what drives people to come to you, being in tune with their challenges and delivering them the right information at the right time to help.
For example, it is good to ask what do you need? But it is better to say here is what you need. As a consumer this is a much more helpful experience as it saves them time and makes their life easier and they may not always be completely clear about what it is they do actually need.
It is also important to note that customers are now less patient. 90% of customers expect a response immediately and this means that your business must provide the means to deliver an instantaneous response to ensure a great customer experience. 24/7 service isn't possible for most businesses but being around when your customers want you can be managed. Consider a chat bot on your site that helps customers find the information they need and can also, through automation, help them book a call or appointment with you. Make sure your FAQs are relevant, up to date and detailed so questions can be answered easily. do everything you can to make sure you customers can have access to what they need, when they need it, not when suits you.
Importance of Reviews
Customers are sceptical, and this means that reviews are very important. Make sure that you’re implementing reviews on your website because it is yet another way that customers can find out what they want to know about you. They can read your content but they'll trust independent reviews of your service/product/customer care a whole lot more. Trustpilot is a great way to collect and collate reviews from your customers and these reviews, assuming they are positive, will help to influence new customers to make a purchase. Customers are your best marketing channel. So, make sure you’re enabling them to promote you!
Are You Meeting Customer Expectations?
The modern customer has a number of expectations. Successful companies share a few key traits:
- Available 24/7
- Free and quick to start relationship with
- Personalised experience
- Predictive ie they predict, anticipate and cater to customer needs
Companies that are lagging behind have the following traits:
- Available 9-5
- High upfront investment
- Generic experience
- Responsive and reactive
Take a look at the traits above. Which bullet points relate to your company? Ask yourself, are you meeting customer expectations? It's a useful list to highlight exactly where your business could improve it's customer experience. Think back to the last time you had a great customer experience, and the last really bad one. You know what you want as a customer so use that awareness to inform how you deliver to your customers.
Engaging with Your Customers 24/7
Customers want to engage but companies, especially B2B businesses, are often unavailable. It is important to make communications tools available for customers to always be able to engage with your company.
Consumers today are used to instant messaging and LiveChat. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have a combined total of 2.4 billion users shared equally between them. Messaging apps have a total of 5 billion monthly users worldwide. Considering the engagement messaging apps get from consumers, it is probably no surprise that 53% of customers will happily contact a company using a messaging app. Is your company providing the option to contact you via a messaging app like Facebook Messenger? If not, then it should be.
LiveChat & Chatbots
LiveChat on your website is now something consumers expect. Chatbots can be used to engage with customers whenever, not just during business hours and can free up you staff by managing queries without needing a real person to be involved. Chatbots can be programmed with answers to your frequently asked questions and this takes pressure off your customer services team.
Remember that chatbots do have limitations and you should be honest with consumers. Make it clear that they are talking to a chatbot and chances are they will be more forgiving if the chatbots cannot answer their question. If they reach the point where a chatbot can't help further, give them options, the worst thing to do it to let them drop out of the system before they have received a satisfactory answer to their questions.
It is important to remember that the customer communication experience with your business must be omnichannel. That means consistent across all the channels you are using. You need to provide a consistent communication journey where conversation history is saved. Technology is available to allow for omnichannel communication so make sure your business is using it so that the customer feels known, remembered and cherished.
This means that you need a single system to engage customers and guide them through the buyer’s journey. This is where a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system comes in, as this technology allows for omnichannel communication, but only if everyone involved in the customer jurney is using it!
Grow Your Business
To grow your business in an on-demand world it is important to make the most of technology and understand what your customer expects so you can exceed that expectation. Don't use technology fo technology's sake but rather use the right technology as a tool to make things easier and more simple for your customer and for you. Consumers do not have the same restrictions that they used to and consumer technology is now very advanced. Companies are falling behind, meaning we need a transformation, and this transformation can be facilitated through technology.
You will need to leverage multiple channels to truly understand your customer and it is really too complex to try to achieve that across multiple platforms without some means of connecting your efforts. This is where an effective CRM like HubSpot can help. HubSpot is a fully integrated CRM platform that can help your company fix disconnects between marketing, customer service and sales, helping to grow your business.
Innovation Visual are a fully badged HubSpot partner and have worked with a number of businesses to implement HubSpot to automate their digital marketing and offer their customers a truly omnichannel, seamless experience. If you would like to find out more about the benefits that HubSpot could have for your business, then please get in touch.