Your Customer’s Buyer Journey Doesn’t Stop at The Point of Purchase

A few months ago I had the unfortunate luck to leave valuables behind in a taxi not once, but twice, within the span of one week. (Clearly a sign I needed to slow down!). I used a different taxi app each time to hail my cab and noticed some interesting differences in how both companies thought about their customers.

The first time, my house keys fell out of my pocket into the taxi but I only realized it hours later, when I was heading home.  I tried looking for a contact option for the taxi driver which is available in the app when you make a booking.  I discovered that option no longer appeared once I had made my purchase. After some searching, I ended up having to send an email to a generic address found on the website but because of the late hour, no one was available to help.

The second time, I was using a different taxi app, and left an expensive gift bag in the back seat of the taxi, again only realizing it a few hours later.  I frantically opened up the app, happy to find an icon for lost property and a well though out user experience that let me choose which journey I had left my belongings in, and a simple button to call the taxi driver as well as report the lost property to the company, all within the app.  Within an hour, I was reunited with my bag.

Mapping customer use cases post-purchase

This is much more than a story about good customer service.  My experience highlighted how well one company had thought about their customers post-purchase, considering typical use cases (turns out I am not the only absent minded cab passenger) and future purchase considerations such as:

  • How am I using the service?
  • What would make me want to use this service again?
  • Who would I tell about my experience?
  • Where would this communication happen?
  • How would my experience influence other buyers?
  • What would it take for me to recommend this service to others?
  • What would cause me to switch to a competitor?

We know that many marketers take the time to map the buying behaviour of their target customers, in order to develop the right messaging and programs to get a prospect's attention and nurture them along their buying decision until they are ready to make a purchase.  We've all seen the traditional marketing funnel. However, these approaches tend to focus on customer acquisition, and don't address factors that impact customer retention, churn and advocacy. Going the extra mile to look at customer buying behaviour past the point of purchase is important for many reasons.

Here are 3 that I've experienced firsthand:

Prospective customers are highly influenced by the experience of existing customers.  People have always consulted their peers, friends or family before making a purchasing decision, but now, this information is available on a completely different scale. User forum postings and customer reviews are easy to access online, and new social tools can tell you who in your social graph has recommended or purchased a product you are considering.

It gets expensive to have to continually replace your customers. Once a customer purchases a product or service, they have a choice to continue to use that product or switch to an alternative. Take the example of a software-as-a-service subscription that bills customers monthly: customers have monthly opportunities to renew their subscription or cancel. Understanding how they come to this decision can provide some valuable insights that marketers can use to improve customer retention.

Your happy customers can extend the work of your marketing team.  In this age of pervasive communication, it can be tough for a company to be present everywhere conversations about your brand are taking place.  Knowing what it takes to turn a customer into a raving fan, and giving them opportunities to do so can amplify the efforts of your own marketing programs.