The basic theory of behavioral economics is that consumers often act against their own economic best interests when making decisions, due to a variety of biases. According to Customer Experience Psychologist Liraz Margalit, Ph.D., while logic plays a large part in the decision making process when it comes to life purchases (such as insurance or financial products), it is actually detrimental to the retail-consumer industry, where emotional decision-making plays a larger role.
Recently, the trendy term, “User Experience,” has become a pivotal factor in many purchasing decisions.
In the past, businesses have earned customer loyalty by the quality or price of their products or services. And often times, quality and price ARE the key factors considered when a purchase decision is being made. However, although most brands claim to be “customer-centric,” there is a gap between what users expect from a business and what they are actually getting. Businesses have started to realize this and have begun to refocusing their customer retention and acquisition strategies onto a more customer-centric approach… a.k.a. user experience (or UX if you want to “speak the lingo”).
Because of the high value on User Experience and the mission of the UGA SBDC, Michael Myers (Consultant for UGA SBDC in Athens) and I (J. Ashley Panter, Marketing Manager at the UGA SBDC), will be delivering a presentation on this very subject titled, How to Connect Through Experience, at the National ASBDC Conference in September 2018 in Washington, D.C. This blog post is the first of a three-series blog post that will serve as an overview/background for our upcoming presentation.
What is UX?
But what is UX? UX is the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use. This term can also apply to buying a product in-store or using a service.
Thanks to the internet and social media, businesses face more competition today than ever before. This means that businesses must now provide an experience superior to that of the competition in order to “gain and retain” (let’s hashtag that… #gainandretain) a customer’s loyalty. The decision-making journey must deliver a cohesive experience between many channels and touch points. If the customer experiences frustration throughout their journey, often times, they will “leave” and find a business with a better experience.
As a business owner, you must understand the value of an experience. You must understand that your customers will judge your business for an overall buying experience rather than just the quality or price. It is imperative that you know how to not only acquire new customers, but also how to build on to the relationships already made and provide a much more valuable and deeper connection at EVERY interaction.
The question is, how can you as a business owner provide a seamless, quality experience to retain long-term, happy customers?
How Do I Gain and Retain?
It starts with CRM (Customer Relationship Management), which, as you know, is a business philosophy and strategy to help build relationships between a business and their customers. Unfortunately, CRM has transformed into a process that provides little to no insight as to how to actually improve customer relationships.
You know what they say though… out with the old, in with the new. So, I’m proposing a new term, UXM (User Experience Management… and yes, we’re going to hashtag that too… #UXM). But why?
CRM only accounts for a business’ CUSTOMERS. UXM, however, takes into account all possible connections involved in the experience. This includes both customers AND employees.
Most people consider a customer’s journey to be strictly the path of their purchasing decision, but it’s not. It’s about the entire experience they have with a business. That includes their experience when they look at marketing collateral, their experience with a business’ website, with a business’ social media channels, with employees of the business, and even their experience at the brick and mortar establishment itself.
In the next few days, the part two of this post will drop… and part three a few weeks after that. So, be on the look out to dive and little deeper and talk about two important areas (Marketing and Management) within the purchasing decision that not many people consider to be part of “User Experience” and how you can incorporate a few best practices into your business.
In order for business owners to continue to be successful, you must evolve your ways of thinking about marketing and management and must REALLY learn how to connect with your customers.
Forward-thinking business owners who learn how to connect with their users, invest in UXM, change their viewpoints and begin looking from the outside of their business-in will have a huge competitive advantage in the future.
Whether it be face-to-face, social media, website communication, or customer service in general, by focusing on providing users with more value and more meaningful relationships, will set your business apart from others.
The marketing world is beginning to look drastically different for businesses. Small businesses can compete with box stores more easily by staying ahead of the game and preparing for UXM before the big companies catch on.
(Source: J. Ashley Panter, Marketing Manager, UGA SBDC | Michael Myers, Consultant, UGA SBDC in Athens | Liraz Margalit Ph.D., Role of Emotions in Our Purchase Decisions | Beth Pop-Nikolov, Venveo | Interaction Design)