Any executive worth his salt knows that decoding the motivation behind customers choices puts you in a position of power.
Most modern day companies have a way to measure customer emotions, as well as customer experience strategies to respond to those emotions. The problem is, traditional survey methods only measure emotions after a decision to buy has already been made.
The insights gained from these only paint part of a picture. They corner your business into being reactive to customers complaints or compliments. Companies should aim to be predictive. anticipating customer needs increases your value to customers and investors alike.
When we sit down to decode the “why behind the buy”, a valuable tool is the customer journey map. The key is stepping into the shoes of the customer and looking beyond simple customer satisfaction.
We’ve written about how to map a customer journey before, but here I will highlight my own experience under the lens of the Customer Decision Loop, which was coined by our founder and CEO Guilherme Cerqueira.
The loop breaks down the customer decision process into 4 stages:
This process shows the mental path every customer takes when making a decision. While it can be applied to any industry, it’s important to consider how frequently customers will engage in the loop for your business when creating your CX strategy.
In this post, I will examine my customer journey in the travel and hospitality industry. Here, customers go through the decision loop more frequently, as opposed to the auto industry for example, where research by R.L. Polk shows customers keep their new vehicle for around 6 years.
Because customers of the hospitality and travel industry will frequent the customer decision loop more, the challenge of creating a unique and memorable customer experience each time is heightened.
Use this process map to gain insight into key touch-points in your customer journey where it is possible to implement hyper-personalization and increase your value in the customer’s eyes.
Whether the reason for traveling is based on business, pleasure, or a wedding, there is a need that must be resolved. This stage is influenced by life circumstance. Those circumstances may change at times, but what truly varies is how customers address those needs.
For this stage, I needed to plan a vacation and surprise engagement. In the not too distant past, I could have solved this through a travel agent. This service provided potential travelers with a range of options, compiling flights, hotels, and places to visit. Always considering the customers' interests, budget, and planned length of stay.
Today, digitization lets customers rely on their own devices (no pun intended) to find a solution to their needs.
For my trip, I know I can download an app or use a single website to conveniently search for options. Companies will have a hard time individually grabbing my attention. This part of my customer journey is devoid of any human communication, and with the options in front of me, I am able to transition to the next stage, where expectations guide selections.
While the expectations themselves can be low or high, they are heavily shaped by the information and technology that is available. Here is where companies can increase their value proposition to edge out their competitors.
Throughout my search, I see that many places could fulfill the basic need of a room for our vacation. But knowing the technology that is available, my expectations make me focus on the places that also provide luxurious amenities.
I know I have the option of top floor views, with high-speed wireless internet, a stocked bar, Jacuzzi tub, all within walking distance to the city center.
Because my search is swayed by my own expectations, I am bombarded with places that fit the filters I have created.
During this stage, I performed my cost-benefit analysis by weighing what is actually practical for my expectations. This is also where I take what “influencers” have to say into consideration.
Influencers can be anyone. A trusted friend, someone that’s famous, or even verified reviewers. Whoever they are in your customer journey, they play the role of validating your decisions.
Whatever influencers say can be considered at any stage, but in this stage they have the highest decisive impact.
With my non-negotiable key expectations in mind, the next thing that guided my decision was what other customers were saying.
Anything rated less than 4 stars was immediately removed as an option, no matter what the price or location was. Reviews helped me stay way from small rooms, a bad internet reception, dirty quarters, and loud neighboring locations. All factors that listings didn’t necessarily advertise.
With everything considered, I let the modern top story hotel room with a view go in exchange for a smaller room in a shared house with a central location that offers walkability at an affordable price with great customer reviews.
Even with every review and filter I used to narrow my search, the largest impact came from a feature I hadn’t even heard about before.
Because of giving access to unique experience packages that could be booked as easily as the cute 1920s bungalow I selected for my stay, Airbnb won my worth it analysis.
My decision had less to do with the luxurious amenities and more to do with the available prices, and this newly premiered feature (in that area).
Airbnb rose to a spot head and shoulders above the rest because of the convenience of having the event booked on a place I trust, instead of searching and comparing experiences on other sites.
At this point, my needs have been fulfilled. Anything further will affect my expectations and potentially my decision when the cycle begins again.
If the host, the room, or the experience I booked turns out to be disappointing, I will write reviews that influence others on their own journey.
The customer decision loop cycle will continue, meaning companies need to consistently improve.I challenge you to think about your own journeys and what features or innovations would make the difference for you, or for your persona.
What is enough to make you "worth it" this time may change with new innovation and technology your company, or competitors, introduce to consumers.
Only by knowing the key drivers throughout a customer’s journey is possible to anticipate how to act, rather than just react, to a good or bad experience.