The customer decision making process and why it matters
The customer decision making process, or sometimes called the customer acquisition lifecycle, can be one of the most effective tools in a business’ armoury.
Understanding the customer decision making process is key to many aspects of a business including marketing, sales, strategy, design, customer experience, and more. It does not matter what line of business or industry you are in, understanding who your customers are, and what their decision process consists of is crucial to selling, servicing customers and growing a business.
The customer decision making process consists of gaining the attention of potential customers or clients, convincing them of your qualification or ability to satisfy a need/want/goal they have, and then nourishing that customer and repeating.
There are many frameworks that break this lifecycle down into simple mnemonics, some of which can be seen below:
AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action
REAN stands for Reach, Engage, Activate, Nurture
RACE stands for Reach, Act, Convert, Engage
Essentially, what these mnemonics have broken down are some of the key components to the customer lifecycle. Let’s look at what is consistent between them and build a straightforward life cycle:
- Attracting customers and gaining attention
- Informing, convincing, and persuading
- Building desire
- Driving action
Attracting customers is how your business becomes puts itself in front of potential customers. More ideally, how potential customers put themselves in front of your business. There are many channels to attracting customers and often it is best to focus on fewer, high potential channels rather than spreading efforts across as many as possible. These include, but are not limited to word of mouth, paid advertising, networking, events, organic discovery, referrals, and more.
Informing and Convincing
This is your one opportunity to discuss a problem, propose a solution, and convince the potential customer of your qualifications, experience, or matter of ability. This comes in many forms in conversation, advertising, and web design. You must make it clear that you are solving a problem, and exist inherently to do so.
Often the most misunderstood or neglected, building desire serves as a crucial stepping stone in the customer decision making process. Once you have proven to a potential customer your business’ ability to deliver, there needs to be enough reason and persuasion to cause the customer to want the proposed solution. Essentially, with the costumer’s interest piqued, you need to convince the customer they want/need your product.
Now, you need to make it as seamless as possible for the customer to take action. A little bit of nudging is okay, and even encouraged. Afterall, at this point you have gained the interest, respect, and desire of this potential client.
Arguably the most critical step in the whole lifecycle is nurturing. A business can only go so far, pay so much money, and hire so many people, in order to gain clients. Eventually, if they do not take care to nurture, appreciate, and listen to their current clients, they will inevitably burn out.
Why is it important to understand this?
Businesses who are able to understand their customer’s decision making process are better enabled to understand how to sell to, service, and nurture their clientbase. If you understand how, why, where, and when a client does or does not do business with you, you can design your services, selling platforms, advertising, and communications around this process to optimize it, both for your business and your clients. Understanding the customer decision making process is more than just knowing your customers. It allows you to predict sales, target the right people, and entertain more successful and longer lasting projects and client relationships.
How can I understand my customers decision making process?
A lot of businesses say they understand their customer and they understand how to get more customers because they’re currently doing it and they can tell you the rough demographics of their customer. This is not a valuable understanding for a business that truly wishes to flourish. Understanding your customer comes down to being able to put yourself in their shoes, live their lives, and see the world (and therefore your business) from their point of view. Knowing how they find your business, why they’re looking for or why they'd be a good fit for your business, what their concerns are, what their needs, values, and desires are. This is why founders who have literally been their own customer before are often times so successful. They deeply understand who their customer is because they’ve been/are them.
Those that can understand who their customer is will ultimately be able to design and control their business in order to find success within a market. At Scalecube, we specialize in working with clients to discover, define, and study their customers in order to create solutions to leverage that knowledge.