This week, Mike Richardson, managing director EMEA at Maximizer Software in Bracknell explains the ‘new customer journey’ and what it means for your business.

What is the new customer journey?

It’s marketing-speak for the changing way that consumers and businesses are buying products or services. The route from initial interest to the point of purchase used to be relatively predictable; the supplier took control, pushing out information and promotion to generate leads.

But today, thanks to the proliferation of online information and digital services, it’s the buyer who’s in charge of the pace and direction of their ‘journey’ to purchase.

Why does it affect my business?

Buyers are behaving so differently to even five years ago that relying on outdated sales and marketing techniques risks alienating your audience and holding your business back.Two particular trends affect every industry. Firstly, consumers prefer to ‘self-educate’, doing their own research via peer review sites, comparison tools and social media before they approach you. Secondly, when they do get in touch, they expect you to offer value and personalised engagement to support their decision-making rather than overt selling.

How can I respond?

Think pull rather than push. Try to draw people to you by ensuring you are easily found online and encourage them to engage so they willingly share their details, by completing enquiry forms or downloading useful content you’ve published. Customers love sharing good experiences; get them involved, writing reviews and sharing your posts online.

Analysing the patterns of your customer interactions will arm you with invaluable knowledge to better meet their needs and supercharge your sales growth. Successfully embracing the new customer journey is the key to thriving, not just surviving, in the digital era.

Priorities at each stage of the customer journey: · Awareness – Promote and engage so your prospects have you in mind · Interest - Analyse prospect behaviour; know when and how to deliver useful information or content · Consideration – Create a human connection; improve visibility and reviews via the right channels · Purchase – Deliver an outstanding buying experience; lay foundations for repeat business · Retention – Offer ongoing value; pre-empt problems; reward loyalty · Advocacy – Make customers your brand ambassadors!

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