Editor’s Note: This is part one in a two-part series.
The B2C (business to consumer) customer lifecycle is used to describe the phases a customer progresses through when making a purchasing decision and is generally broken down into these five phases: awareness, consideration, purchase, service and advocacy.
Where movement between the stages was once more predictable—customers progressed in a linear fashion and marketing strategies targeted pre-purchase stages—Forbes suggests customers are more likely to jump stages in a non-linear manner due to social media’s increasing impact on customer behavior. So, a customer may make a purchase strictly based on a friend’s review of your brand.
To adapt to the ever-changing customer lifecycle, brands must adapt their marketing strategies to impact post-sales phases as well – such as advocacy, which is leading the way in driving incremental sales. The advocacy phase is where customers, who have had a positive brand experience, elect to champion your brand, often through social media recommendations.
In fact, BigCommerce reports that 42 percent of online customers find recommendations from friends and family as an influential purchasing factor, and 23 percent are influenced by social media recommendations/reviews.
»Related Topic: How to Re-Engage Your Audience on Social
Before your customers can become advocates, they need to have a reason to become a brand champion. This leads us to what Forbes is calling a “concierge approach to customers” which takes place during the “service” phase.
Beyond ensuring your products are of high quality, companies can enhance their customer-service experience by first providing timely, quality responses to all customer inquiries. Companies excelling at service even provide additional information that may support the customer’s purchase experience – above and beyond what was requested.
Delivering exceptional customer service begins with recruiting reps who are empathetic listeners and giving them training to ensure high levels of knowledge about your products and services. Supplement the live service experience with FAQs and “How To” videos on your website.
Also make sure that your service team is extremely responsive to Facebook messages received and proceed with caution when it comes to auto-messaging via Facebook Messenger. Remember, you want every opportunity you can find to have real conversations.
Providing extraordinary customer service not only enhances your ability to turn customers into advocates but also directly impacts your bottom line. Kissmetrics reports that 70 percent of consumers in the U.S. are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with companies that provide excellent customer service.
Do you think your service is exceptional? It’s always best to bring in a third party to validate assumptions, as business.com reports that while 80 percent of companies say they provide great customer service, only 8 percent of customers think those companies deliver great customer service.
Make service a competitive advantage and convert customers into advocates.
Julianne Watt, Sales and Marketing Analyst at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.
»Read part 2: Igniting Customer Advocacy