Personally, I’m one of those restaurant diners who takes a few extra minutes to order when there are more meals on their menus. For some reason, companies have recently shifted their perception on the wrong data concerning buyers and their choices. You need only to go shopping for a day to see that many companies, in an effort to make their customers happy, offer an overwhelming “palette” of items, equipment, packages or plans in misguided attempts to make lives easier. For busy people who already have enough going on in their busy lives, this spells nothing but disaster. Believe it or not, overloading customers with two dozen or more choices (in an effort to engage customers and help them feel in control of their lives) does nothing but push them away at an alarming rate. If you have a few minutes, I’d like to share a few ways to help you make the decision process easier for your customers.
1. Make Decisions Simple
No business owner, sales rep or marketer can deny the value of sticky customers. These are a special breed of loyal people who decided that your business is the best of the best – and they will rarely go anywhere else to do business.
One way of acquiring sticky customers is by adhering to the “Philosophy of Simplicity”. This means making your site or store (whether it’s online or physical) easy to navigate – one that lets people gather specific, necessary information they need in regards to where they are in the sales funnel (also called the buying process).
Depending on your particular structure, the buying process typically has six stages that the customer “moves through” as he/she/it considers purchasing. Here are the stages:
- Problem Recognition: Before buying something, customers must believe that something is wrong with their lives, and a “perfect” product or service will fulfill their lives.
- Information Search: Once the individual figures out what the problem is, they begin looking for products/services that will solve the problem. This is a straightforward step in the buying process that can be easily derailed if you haven’t positioned your brand/company image as the “go to” problem-solver. Personally, when I go shopping for coffee, I pick up a canister of Tim Horton’s; they’ve made their brand become “Canada’s official coffee” by a) making delicious coffee, which states my craving for coffee and b) building stores all across the country, positioning themselves in front of everyone, everywhere.
- Evaluate Alternatives: People at this stage are looking elsewhere to see how other competitors’ products or services compare to the same thing you’re selling. Don’t take it personally: as consumers, many of us are always on the hunt for “the best deal.”
- Purchase Decision: After weighing price points, whether or not it solves a problem or need, and searching for alternatives… it is during this period that the customer ultimately makes the choice to move ahead with the purchase or not. (Marketers, by this point, should be reminding customers at this stage why they need this particular or service.)
- Purchase: This is the act of exchanging money for the service/product
- Post-Purchase Evaluation: At this stage, the buyer finally gets to use the product or service. During this period the customer will use the item/service and judge it, as well as the company regarding how the product or service performs.
Now that you know the six stages of the buying process for customers, analyse each stage and brainstorm ideas for how you can simplify those steps for your customers. Make it easier for them to see exactly why they are giving you their trust and hard-earned money.
2. Implement Customer Reviews
Convincing your customers to trust you will help them live happier lives because you will be giving them one less thing to worry about. This means helping people trust the information that they gather about your company, products and services offered, and where your offer stands compared to other companies. For example, look up any Amazon product and head straight to customer reviews. In general, the more positive ratings and 3, 4 or 5 stars a product has – the more likely an individual will purchase that product. This decision is based on the trust of other individuals who had previous experience with the product. Ergo, this means offering the most useful services you can – and products that go above and beyond your competitors’ rival products.
3. Option Weighing
Clearly, the bottom-line goal is to offer customers and prospects as much guidance and clarity about the “best” choice is for them. Doing this for people helps them get rid of stress, which is one of the primary buying reasons behind most purchase decisions. This is why a large number of individuals spend a considerable amount of time doing product research. This means finding out any and all relevant information about the product or service – including (in most cases) the best way for getting the most out of it. Therefore, it’s essential to provide tools that customers can use to weigh the features of products (if you’re selling products) against other competitors. (If you’re selling online, consider implementing one-click questions when you’re presenting customers with options about products. This step-by-step transparency significantly narrows a lot down.)
Remember, by offering your customers fewer options to choose from (thereby drawing more attention to those options) … you’re reducing the chances of letting them develop buyer’s remorse. Nobody wants to feel like they got stiffed on the purchase they made; the more options to choose from, the more nagging doubts will linger on their minds. It’s a case of the age-old adage involving green grass. You want to make your customers feel inspired—and confident—to buy from you again and again.