Measuring the customer experience before, during, and after customers purchase your product provides insights for more targeted sales conversations and feedback to develop stronger relationships with current and future customers
There are thousands of elements to the sales and service process, and any of them can boost or harm customers’ impression of your brand and their overall customer experience. But how do you know you’re offering the products and experiences that customers are looking for?
You need direct access to customer experience data throughout their purchase journey, from initial research to the first purchase of your product, and, if all goes well, the next purchase too.
Without insights into the customer experience, you risk building strategies based on incorrect assumptions and anecdotes. This introduces a higher likelihood of gaps and shortcomings in both sales and service approaches, ultimately turning prospects and customers away. The consequences of this can be dire, including:
- Sales lost because of a faulty or incomplete sales funnel
- Failure to acquire target customers who don’t see their needs reflected in your sales offerings.
- Gaps in your competitive positioning, either in terms of missing features or messaging that fails to correctly highlight your comparative advantages.
- Decreased customer retention due to a mismatch between customers’ expectations and the offering you provide.
By gathering direct feedback from customers, you gain critical insight into the customer experience. This type of research can teach you your brand and offerings are perceived and uncover gaps in strategies, positioning, and product that might be costing you when it comes to converting prospects into customers. Effective use of this data can also improve revenue: After all, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on the customer.
Gathering Customer Experience Insights with Surveys
The best way to gather systematic customer insights is by directly consulting with customers through a survey. By asking customers about their experience, both positive and negative, you can identify what customers want — and what you’re failing to provide.
Using advanced methods to identify underlying drivers, you can understand what motivates people to buy and what turns them away. Surveys also allow you to monitor the impact of changes to your strategy by tracking how responses change over time and whether you’re accurately addressing customer needs and preferences.
To learn about how your customers experience your brand, start by focusing on the three different stages of your customer relationship.
- Path to Purchase: This stage begins when they first set out on the path to purchase your offering.
- Purchase Satisfaction: This stage begins after the first purchase, when they directly experience your product and service.
- Future Consideration: This is the final stage, when they decide whether to repurchase your product.
Want answers to your most pressing customer experience questions? Learn more about Hanover’s advanced survey methodologies.
Understanding the Path to Purchase to Identify Gaps in Your Sales and Marketing Messaging
The first stage of your brand experience happens before your customers make the purchase. This stage is called the path to purchase, and it’s a three-step process that takes customers from inspiration, to consideration, to their final purchase decision. Gathering direct insights into the customer experience as they move from one stage to another can help you identify the strength of your current value proposition and sales pitches. It can also help you uncover any gaps or unexplored avenues to pursue to strengthen your sales funnel.
The first step in your relationship begins with the initial spark of inspiration that places customers on the path that (hopefully) will lead them to you and your product. Identifying the source of inspiration and the subsequent discovery process that leads a customer to your product or service as a potential solution, will help you understand what need or pain point drives customers to you.
The second step along the path to purchase is when customers begin researching their options. At this stage, they’re collecting information about the different features offered, evaluating which products and solutions accurately address their initial driving need (and any other additional goals the product can address), and weighing the value against the cost of the product or service, along with other options in the market.
The last stage is the purchase decision: Should they purchase your offering, your competitors, or nothing at all? At this point, they’re weighing the information they collected in the consideration stage getting additional input from peers and/or other stakeholders and making their final decision.
Customer Experience Insights to Collect
To get a deeper understanding of the path to purchase and which factors can successfully influence customers to choose your offering, ask customers the following questions:
- What made you think to purchase our offering?
- What research did you do?
- Who else did you consider? Why?
- What were your biggest considerations for completing this purchase?
Work with Hanover to receive in-depth insights on your customer’s Path to Purchase.
Understanding Customer Satisfaction to Strengthen Your Value Proposition and Sales Process
The second stage of your relationship with customers occurs as they become a customer. Measuring customer satisfaction with both the purchase process and their experience and perceived value of your product once they have it in hand can help you identify strategies for an optimized purchase experience, including targeted messaging that highlights the value and features of your offering.
There are many steps and elements in the purchase process that influence a potential customer’s decision to purchase. These factors include:
- Exposure to brand and product messaging
- The employees (sales representative, technical consultants, etc.,) who customers interact with before they purchase
- The medium customers use complete their purchase (website, store, etc.,)
- The delivery of the purchase (shipping, product onboarding, etc.,)
Some of these elements have the potential to seal the deal, while others can turn potential customers away. Gathering insights about how customers perceive the sales process can help uncover any gaps or negative experiences in the customer experience. Conversely, it can help you to identify factors that propelled customers forward in the purchase process, which you can use to build a better understanding of your value proposition as perceived by customers.
Product Experience and Value
This evaluation looks at how customers interact with your offering, their overall assessment of its value, and their experience using it. This includes feedback on ease of use, evaluation of the individual features, and the value your offering has provided. These insights can inform your messaging and sales pitches and also refine and optimize your offerings to match customer and prospect expectations.
Customer Experience Insights to Collect
Gather insights on your customers’ experience with your offering by asking the following questions:
- Was the purchase process easy to accomplish, or were there roadblocks?
- What attributes of this offering are most important?
- How satisfied are you with those attributes?
Find out how companies are leveraging customer experience data in the Power of Customer Journey Mapping.
Understanding Future Consideration and Customer Advocacy to Highlight Your Competitive Advantage
The third stage of your relationship with customers happens after you have an established relationship. At this point, businesses are looking to renew their relationship with their clients and potentially recruit them as brand advocates to boost their brand perception and verify the value of their offering. One of the best ways to gauge how your offering is received by customers is to understand whether or not they are willing to become a repeat customer. By understanding why customers are willing to reinvest in your product and endorse it, or not, you gain important insights into your value proposition and your competitive advantage.
Understanding why customers choose to remain a client or decide to take their business to a competitor provides insights into your competitive positioning. Knowing why customers leave is just as important as knowing why others stay. Those who stick with you will highlight which elements of your offering have proved valuable.
Conversely, feedback from customers who leave can provide insight into gaps they perceived in your offering. Armed with these insights, your company can refine and optimize offerings that seem to be falling short of customer expectations.
There are two levels of customer advocacy. One is measured by your Net Promoter Score® (NPS), which evaluates the extent to which customers are willing to recommend your offering to others. Your NPS is an important measure of brand loyalty and satisfaction, which when compared to others in your industry can highlight your relative strength and positioning in the market.
An expanded level of customer advocacy occurs when customers are willing to actively promote your brand and offerings. Not only will this give insights into your brand value, but these endorsements can help bring in customers and help push them along the sales funnel.
Customer Experience Insights to Collect
Learn what customers value most about your brand by asking the following questions:
- Would they buy this offering again?
- Is there something we should change about the process or the offering to ensure you’ll buy it again?
- How likely are you to recommend this product or service to?
- How would you review this product?