The customer decision-making process entails identifying needs, gathering information, evaluating alternatives, and making a purchase decision. Once post-purchase, the customer makes the decision of if they shall buy again. Customer behaviour is impacted by external elements such as social and cultural values, as well as economic and psychological factors.
Every Customer and Buyer goes through this cycle, whether it is B2C, B2B, or a mother buying a child a MacDonald’s happy meal. That said, the decision to buy is always emotional and today, the key is to know your customer, and ensure that you create a customer experience that allows them to pass through these stages as easily as possible.
Businesses view today’s consumers as web-savvy, mobile-enabled data scavengers who pounce on the best-value brand or store. According to popular belief, brand loyalty is dwindling. Companies have increased their messaging as a result, believing that the more contact and information they supply, the greater their chances of retaining these more distracted and disloyal customers. The increased volume of marketing communications, on the other hand, isn’t empowering for many consumers—overwhelming. it’s Rather than luring customers in, marketers are driving them away with a barrage of ill-advised attempts to interact.
To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple
This is one of the primary findings of various Corporate Board’s and consumer surveys and interviews with hundreds of marketing executives and other experts throughout the world (for more information, see the sidebar “About the Research”).
The HBR research focused on what makes customers “sticky”—that is, likely to complete a transaction, buy the product again, and suggest it to others. More than 40 variables, such as price, customer impressions of a brand, and how often consumers interacted with the brand, were examined for their impact on stickiness.
“Decision simplicity”—the ease with which consumers may get reliable information about a product and confidently and effectively analyze their buying options—was by far the most important driver of stickiness. Simply put, what customers expect from Businesses is simplicity.
What does it take for a Business to acquire loyal customers?
The “decision simplicity index,” a measure of how easy it is for customers to gather and understand (or navigate) information about a brand, how much they can trust the information they find, and how easily they can weigh their options, was found to be the best tool for measuring consumer engagement efforts in the HRB study. The greater a brand’s choice-simplicity score, the smoother it makes the purchase decision journey. Consumers were 86% more likely to buy brands that scored in the top quarter of the HRB study than those that scored in the bottom quarter. They had a 9% higher chance of being repurchased and a 115% higher chance of being suggested to others.
“Trust” isn’t about trusting the brand in the context of decision simplicity; it’s about believing the information received. Businesses frequently overlook this aspect and instead focus their efforts on activating brand recommenders who are only interested in the product’s features and benefits. Consumers also require details on an adviser’s decision-making process and brand usage. Data about the Adviser as well aids in building trust.
Making it easier to weigh alternatives
Most Businesses describe their distinguishing features and benefits to assist consumers in making decisions. Some even go so far as to provide buying guides with a side-by-side brand or product comparisons. The Business’ goal should always be to make the customer feel confident in their decision. Providing more information isn’t always enough. Businesses should instead provide tools that allow customers to identify and weigh the features that are most important to them. De Beers’ use of the “4 Cs” (cut, colour, clarity, and carat) to frame the complex and often perplexing comparison of diamonds is a classic example. The 4 Cs simplify the buying process by assuring consumers that they are weighing the important features of the diamonds they are considering and making an informed decision.
Technology helps customers with decision making
Technology can also help consumers with their weighing problems by allowing them to skip the process entirely. Consumers are likely to trust recommendations based on their own purchasing history or other past behaviour because these are typically accurate predictors of preference. ShoeDazzle.com collects “personality” information on each member, such as favorite fashion icons and general shoe preferences. BBVA, a Spanish bank, makes personalized recommendations for financial products after analysing individual consumers’ spending habits. In each case, the company eliminates much, if not all, of the hassle of weighing options by providing the most likely best option at the outset. Our Chatbots, do the same by taking the Customer on a simple journey to dissect, analysis and lead to the fulfillment of their need, in as simple a decision-making process as possible.
Businesses will have ever-increasing opportunities to bombard consumers due to the rapid expansion of social and mobile technologies. And if history is any indication, that is exactly what they will do.
However, in their aggressive efforts to engage with their customers, they will only complicate and confuse the decision-making process. Businesses, who focus on simplifying consumers’ decision-making will rise above the noise, and as a result, their customers will stick with them.
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Sam Walton