Have You Mapped Your Customer's Post-Purchase Journey for COVID-19?

Posted by Robin Voter on July 16, 2020

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In order for a considered purchase brand’s marketing to thrive in the COVID-19 world, marketers must spot changes in consumer behavior and react accordingly. We can’t simply wait for things to return to normal; that normal no longer exists. Instead, brands must remap their customer journey to catch up to what consumers want and what they’re doing, and identify a plan to support these individuals — both before and after the sale.

Before the Sale: The Customer Journey to Purchase

As retail stores open up and people venture outdoors again, businesses around the world have made adaptations for how consumers view shopping. While the steps of the customer journey remain the same, how a consumer navigates those steps is quite different. Factors that were once a priority have taken a major backseat to safety, convenience, availability, and — perhaps most important — a company’s commitment to going the extra mile.

After the Sale: The Customer’s Post-Purchase Journey

Much like the pre-purchase customer journey, the post-purchase steps of a customer remain the same. However, COVID-19 has changed customer methods and motivations, and brands must update their post-purchase journey map to ensure they’re providing the right customer service after the sale. 

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Adoption

Support Customers Digitally

Here's how you can use technology to make a difference after the sale:

  • Don't make customers come into a store for pickup or for support, or into your office for an appointment, consultation, or kickoff. Utilize online chat and Zoom or Skype meetings to virtually walk customers through the post-purchase process or any issues.
  • Make digital options less intimidating. Many people don't want to switch to online services because they find them confusing, such as when a bank offers online banking but a branch experience is preferred by older clientele. Keep your less-digitally-savvy audience in mind when it comes to doing business online.
  • Create online support content. Use blogs and videos or create an online knowledge base to answer common support questions, and be sure to optimize the content for search engines.

Simplify Your Processes

The most profound way you can assist your customers right now is to make their lives easier. Here's how you can help:

  • Eliminate ways consumers run into difficulty when purchasing from you. Improve the UX of your e-commerce site and allow shoppers to check out as a guest instead of making an online account. Offer curbside pickup or delivery options. 
  • Respect their time. Even if people are going out less, they're still trying to coordinate schedules, find childcare, and reduce trips. Show empathy through your product offerings, store hours, and means of transaction.
  • Make it easy for them to find what they need. Imagine what a stressed-out and overwhelmed consumer wants, and put it front and center — both digitally and at your stores.

Retention

Provide Multiple Layers of Value

Keep customers coming back not because of savings, but because of the high value of purchasing from you:

  • Offer post-sale assurance. Warranties, service contracts, and clear return policies give buyers comfort in the knowledge that their purchases are guaranteed.
  • Update your service policies. A customer worried about losing their job is much more eager to buy your service if they know they can cancel if their worst fears become reality.

Build Trust

Building trust begins with your most loyal supporters. Start with these simple measures:

  • Be transparent. Provide clarity regarding return policies — especially if those policies have been changed due to COVID-19. Do the same regarding changes in store hours.
  • Communicate. Tell people exactly what you're doing to ensure their safety in your stores.
  • Incorporate feedback. Ask people what they need in order to feel safe and to continue supporting your brand in this climate. Then put that feedback to use so your customers know their voices are heard.

Expansion

Move Beyond Product Offerings

It might be impossible to offer new products at this time, but what can be expanded is humanity and compassion. Here's how you can expand your brand's image in the minds of consumers, even in the absence of new product lines:

  • Connect with your audience. Identify the causes that are important to both you and your customers. Make these causes the focus of your charitable endeavors.
  • Don't blatantly upsell. Customers are more than just names on a list. Treat shoppers like people and update your marketing materials to reflect this sentiment.
  • Be yourself. You, like your entire community, are struggling. Show your human side and let shoppers know you understand their situation.

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Take a Personalized Approach

Modern marketing tools make it easy for businesses to send out personalized marketing communications and to provide customer-specific recommendations on e-commerce websites:

  • Send out personalized emails. Show you care by sending segmented and tailored communications to your various groups of customers. Plus, personalized emails allow you to mention items and services you've already sold customers, and indicate reasons why a newer model or add-ons might be beneficial.
  • Provide recommendations. Use data and automation to highlight items that may be useful to a particular customer.

Advocacy

Make the Customer Part of Your Team

An advocate wants to be a part of your brand story. Here's how you can help make that happen:

  • Get customers involved. Ask for consumer opinions. Generate actionable feedback. Provide incentives to consumers for promoting your brand.
  • Provide unique opportunities. Give longtime customers the chance to beta test a new product before the general public, or participate in a pilot program.

Monitor Your Audience

For better or worse, every brand in the world is on a never-ending trial in the court of public opinion. But, this gives you the opportunity to monitor sentiment toward your brand:

  • Keep an eye on social media. If people are unhappy with your company, they'll let the world know on social media first. The earliest signs of unrest can be found here. 
  • Never become complacent. The needs, wants, and tastes of your customers can change at any moment. Keep tabs on what people are asking for, particularly if those services aren't currently offered.

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Putting the customer first remains key even in the aftermath of COVID-19. The only way to consistently do that is to make sure your customer journey maps are updated. If you’ve placed a priority on communicating with your customers and making their lives as easy as possible, your chances of thriving in this post-COVID world are high. If you’re still trying to figure out how to best support your customers in this environment, remap your customer’s pre- and post-purchase journeys and base your decisions around their needs in each stage.

Robin Voter

Written by Robin Voter

Robin Voter strategically develops martech campaigns into revenue-growing assets for B2B and considered purchase clients. Her background includes marketing automation, content strategy, project management, SEO, PPC, and PR. Robin combines her tactical know-how with strategic vision and leadership as Icon's Director of Strategy & Analytics.