Understanding Every Stage of the Consumer Journey

As a business owner, one of the most important goals for your company is to increase the number of customers you have. Satisfied customers are the foundation for a solid reputation, business growth and revenue. How can you build a bigger client base? One essential factor is understanding the different parts of the consumer journey.

What Is the Consumer Journey?

Put simply, the consumer journey is the road that leads a non-customer to become a customer. It involves every step before, during and after a sale.You can think of this journey as the sum of all the experiences or interactions people have with your business. Positive experiences lead to loyal, happy clients. Negative issues can turn potential clients away or make you miss opportunities.

What Are the Stages of the Consumer Journey?

In business terms, the consumer journey involves three primary categories: customer acquisition, conversion and retention. Each of these areas involves smaller stages that guide people toward specific goals.

1. Investigation/Discovery

In this first stage, consumers may not have even heard of your business before. They’re looking for a solution to their needs or problems. For example, a homeowner with leaky plumbing knows that they need to find a plumber, but they don’t have any idea which plumbing business to call.

The investigation phase involves questions and answers. The person may Google “best plumbers near me” to narrow down the list of potential businesses to choose from. Consumers often check out helpful guides, ask friends and family for recommendations or look at news articles to get ideas.

2. Business Evaluation

At this point, potential customers have found your business, website or brand. They may have already formed some preliminary impressions of your company based on what they read online, but now they want to take a closer look.

During this stage, visitors try to learn more about your products or services. For example, they may look at a plumber’s website to see exactly what services the company offers and what tools it uses. At the store, consumers check out brand labeling to learn more about everything from smartphones to hair products.

3. Product Comparison

Comparisons are a vital part of the consumer journey. Potential customers may need assistance deciding which item fits their needs the best. When it comes to purchasing a vehicle, for example, here are some common questions and comparisons:

  • How does a car compare to an SUV?
  • What are the pros and cons of an SUV for my family?
  • How much does an electric hybrid cost versus a traditional car?
  • Which brand of SUV has the best safety ratings?
  • What model or trim has the features my family needs?
  • Which dealership provides the best after-sale service?
  • What financing options are available?

4. Customer Acquisition

Now we’re getting to the conversion part of the customer journey. Usually, this step means making the sale. Sometimes, it involves getting people to sign up for a membership, such as online streaming services.

For a retailer, this is the point when someone buys a product at the checkout or clicks “pay now” on their online shopping cart. A plumber may have clients sign a work contract, and an auto dealer would probably use a purchase agreement.

For some business-to-business companies, such as manufacturers, the acquisition process may be even more gradual. The first goal may be generating leads by having business visitors fill out a contact form.

5. Product Receipt

Interestingly, the consumer journey isn’t over when a sale is made. It’s barely getting started. To build a lasting customer base, you need to make sure customers receive their products in a timely fashion. This can involve shipping goods or the moment when your technicians show up to perform the agreed-upon work.

6. Reflection/Brand Adoption

The impressions your products and services make on someone have a huge effect on your company’s reputation. A cheap product may make a few sales, but if it breaks during usage, there’s little chance the purchaser will transition to a loyal customer.

On the other hand, high-quality products have the opposite effect. As the consumer uses and appreciates the item, they start to build an emotional bond with it and your brand. The same thing applies to a job well done in plumbing, construction and similar services.

7. Follow-Up Interactions

This is part of the customer retention phase. After you make a sale, you need to continue strengthening the client relationship. Here are a few examples of great follow-up interactions:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Special discounts
  • Loyalty programs
  • Rewards programs
  • Cross-sales (“customers like you also purchased…”)

The customer retention phase of the consumer journey makes sense from a business perspective; it costs far less to retain existing customers than to acquire new leads through advertising.

8. Partnership

Your business’s goal should always be to meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. Think about how staunchly some customers defend their favorite automobile brands. That’s what brand loyalty is all about.

Satisfied customers come back. They give you great online ratings and important feedback. They start to identify themselves with your brand, persuading other people to start their own consumer journey with your business.

Why Is It Important To Understand Your Customers’ Journeys?

The better you understand your target audience, the easier it is to attract new customers and deliver great experiences that people love. Your team can stand out from the crowd in a positive way, delivering products and services that meet consumer needs promptly and conveniently.

What’s Next for Your Business’s Consumer Journey?

You may think that it’s enough to know how many sales and profits your company is making every month, but building a thriving business requires more. You need to dig deep and understand what your target audience is looking for and how you can convince them that your business is the best choice. Every business’s consumer journey is slightly different.

My name is Benjamin Naderi, and I’ve been helping businesses connect better with their clients for a long time. I can help you understand what your visitors are looking for and show you how to deliver a smooth experience during every stage of the journey. Contact my team right away to learn more.

Sources:

https://medium.com/@svencali/8-universal-stages-of-the-customer-journey-9644c9769312

https://www.techtarget.com/searchcustomerexperience/tip/5-customer-journey-phases-for-businesses-to-understand

https://hbr.org/2021/05/4-strategies-to-simplify-the-customer-journey

https://medium.com/@adrianastein/how-to-improve-customer-journey-efb2aa6a3092

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