Imagine you’ve just purchased from a brand for the first time, and you have a question concerning your purchase. Do you find the brand’s Twitter handle and send a quick tweet? Do you hunt down the number for the brand’s help line? Do you turn to an online forum, or maybe even visit the brick and mortar location? Today’s consumers have dozens of ways that they can interact with a brand, and the fast-paced technology is making customer-brand interactions more frequent than ever. The dawn of new technologies have made customer journeys anything but simple, but we’re here to break down the complexities and share best practices that will enable you to provide your consumers with a highly-personalized experience that will yield big payoffs right from the start.
More than a decade ago, President and CEO of Procter & Gamble A.G. Lafley presented the idea there are two Moments of Truth that all consumers face in which brands have enormous potential to make an impression–good or bad:1 The first, the period of time before the sale is made. A brand will typically put an enormous emphasis on this moment, as the decision to purchase is its most obvious source of revenue. However the second moment Lafley presented is one that often gets lost in the shuffle, buried between the heavily-marketed sales process and the high-stakes support and service moment; it is the moment in which the product is in the customer’s possession for the first time. And–in more cases than we may realize–consumers are left looking at their new purchase, thinking: now what?
Let’s revisit our earlier example: You’ve just purchased from a brand for the first time. The excitement of the buy is still in full force, because you spent quite a bit of time researching and prepping pre-purchase. As a brand, wouldn’t now be an ideal time to take advantage of all of the excitement that comes along with a new purchase and capitalize on that excitement by providing a stellar customer onboarding experience? It’s a sure fire way to build brand loyalists from the start–but companies haven’t caught onto this potential quite yet, with a mere 17 percent of consumers reporting that they receive a truly excellent post-purchase experience.2 But if you’re finding yourself worrying that post-purchase excellence must mean big spends, think again.
Nearly 60 percent of consumers say their post-purchase experiences with manufacturers, retailers, and eCommerce platforms alike are underwhelming2, citing various reasons for their disappointment. The top reason? They were never thanked for their business. For 61 percent of consumers, a simple note of thanks in the packaging would significantly enhance their onboarding experience with a new brand.3
Even the smallest gestures clearly don’t go unnoticed by consumers, and the effort put forth to implement a smooth and pleasant customer onboarding experience won’t go unnoticed for businesses, either. Sixty-two percent of consumers worldwide say that they’ve stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service4, which translates to a combined $62 billion lost annually for businesses.5 Conversely, the gains when providing a stellar post-purchase experience are significant, with Bain & Co. reporting that a small five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.3
So, how does a brand achieve these post-purchase payoffs? First, it is imperative that it meets its consumers where they are in their journey with the product–in the case of onboarding, that means meeting them at the very beginning. In order to keep customer excitement up in the crucial moments following a purchase, brands must capitalize on that post-purchase high by providing easy, immediate access to relevant, product-specific information and resources. In fact, today’s consumers require it in order to consider themselves satisfied with their purchase. Consider the following:
With these consumer necessities in mind, we’ve come up with a few tips to help you provide an onboarding experience worthy of lifetime brand loyalty.
As mentioned previously, the majority of consumers say that a simple “thank you” from a brand would be enough to significantly improve their post-purchase experience. Whether it comes in the form of an email, a printed card in product packaging, or a verbal thanks, it’s a simple gesture with a big payoff.
The CMO Council says there are three questions that every CMO should ask of their owner experience.2
These questions are a great starting point for an internal audit of current processes, but there is an extra layer of thought that must be added in order to come up with a robust outline for your onboarding process: How do your customers feel about your current onboarding experience? A great way to gauge this is through customer surveys and focus groups. This feedback is extremely valuable and will allow you to identify areas that need improvement as you move forward.
It’s typically an overwhelming experience for a customer to receive multiple booklets, pamphlets, and forms with a new purchase. In order to keep onboarding simple, only give the customer what they need in that moment. Odds are, the customer will not need instructions on how to replace a part or repurchase from your brand right from the get-go, nor would they need information regarding how to re-book with a hotel when they check in. Eliminate those pieces of collateral and send them in a post-purchase email that they can refer to later on. As an added layer of convenience, you may include contextual activation methods (think: a QR code, text, or NFC) that allow the customer to access information that will enhance their experience with your brand on their smartphone. This eliminates the need for excess print collateral and allows customers to easily reaccess this information when needed without the need to hang onto another pamphlet.
It’s time to ditch those printed registration cards and lengthy customer onboarding forms. Thirty-three percent of consumers won’t complete a registration or warranty form that comes with their product.2 It’s no wonder, with 59 percent of consumers saying they are concerned that they will receive unwanted communications if they register their product. While it’s imperative that you clearly state the positive outcomes that will compel consumers to fill out a post-purchase form, it is even more important that you provide a quick and easy way for consumers to do so–one that doesn’t involve snail mail and a stamp. Our recommendation is that you digitize the process by providing a mobile-friendly form, which makes it easier for consumers to access and complete it on their own time. Streamlining the usually cumbersome process into a sleek, mobile experience will help you develop a stronger relationship with your customers, ultimately resulting in increased brand loyalty and customer lifetime value.
It’s critical that you allow your customers to share their feedback in real time in order to gauge their most raw responses. This can be done in several ways: Send a quick follow-up survey a week after purchase, include your social media handles and encourage consumers to share feedback, or go as far as to create a website dedicated to curating open-ended customer feedback (like big-box store Lowes did with their Rant or Rave site). Regardless of how you gather feedback, make sure the forum is always open and the format always yields measurable results.
As mentioned earlier, you should only provide information that consumers immediately need for onboarding in product packaging–so what happens to the rest of the information that they will need later on, such as support information or product upkeep reminders? Send these pieces of content as consumers need them. For example, if a consumer bought a refrigerator that needs a filter change every six months, have a process in place that will automatically send that customer an email six months post-purchase with details on how to order replacement filters, and resources on how they can change the filter on their own. Providing relevant, moment-specific content throughout the customer journey will show your customers that you care enough to keep in touch, ultimately helping you to create brand advocates for life.
There’s a lot at stake during the customer onboarding experience for both you and your customers. With these best practices, you can begin to reap the rewards that come with providing an experience that will capitalize on your customer’s post-purchase excitement, and continue to “wow” your customers throughout their entire journey with your brand.