Customer Experience News & Trends

6 ways service pros can help customers buy smarter

Customers can get more information than ever on their own about you and your products. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want personal help. 

In fact, customers need information from several sources to make the best possible buying decisions – as long as it’s simple to get and easy to understand, according to recent research from Gartner.

“Quite frankly‚ customers don’t have a preference between seller and digital channels — they just want simplicity to access the right information for their job at hand,” says Brent Adamson, principal executive advisor and editor of the Gartner research. “In other words‚ information‚ not individuals‚ makes the purchase process easier.”

So give them information following the age-old KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

The key: Know the journey customers are on when they buy, and give the right information at the right time.

Here are the six steps – which customers see as just discrete tasks, not the “journey” you know – and ways to help them during each:

1. Identify a problem

Customers look for a product or service – whether it’s a new one or change from what they have – when they recognize a problem that needs to be fixed.

How you can help: Many times customers don’t know what the “problem” is. They just know they want or need something. The best way to help them know is to get them to identify the result they want from a purchase. That way, you can help them pinpoint the problem that needs to be resolved (and move toward the right solution) .

2. Explore solutions

Customers might explore your website, join a LinkedIn group, download a white paper, ask questions via social media and email or call to find out the solutions you have that will fix the problem they’ve identified (or you helped them identify).

How you can help: Answer their questions quickly and efficiently. You don’t need to give them all the details on every solution that might work – at first, at least. Just make sure you introduce them to relevant solutions. You can give more details when they whittle down solutions.

3. Build requirements

At this point, customers are getting down to the nitty-gritty. They have a good grip on the issue and potential solutions. They want to customize it.

How you can help: Now it’s important to make it as easy as possible for customers to get easy-to-understand information quickly. Find out their preferences for receiving and looking for information. Only send it the way they prefer. Give them ways (links, your direct line, industry group chats, etc.) to get as much information as they want as easily as possible.

4. Select someone

Customers are ready to choose the right solution to their problem.

How you can help: It’s important now that the information you provide – because there will likely be a lot of it – is consistent and targeted right to individual customers. You want to make sure they’re seeing the same details online, in a catalog, from your sales colleagues and through service interactions. They trust sources of consistent, reliable information.

5. Validate the decision

Customers need to feel good about a decision before they fully commit to it. You might have steered them to the right product or service. Now they need to see that it’s a perfect fit for them.

How you can help: Customers have seen and heard all the details about the product or service. Now’s the time to share with them how it’s worked well for customers who are similarly situated. Don’t just direct them to testimonials on your website or in your literature. Share testimonials. Connect them with satisfied customers. Let them see other customers using your products or services in the same way they will.

6. Get consensus

Most “customers” are actually a few people who have to make the decision to buy new or change. Often one must convince others that you have the right product or service.

How you can help: Make it easy for them to share information on your products and services. Note what they liked best from what you’ve shared so far and emphasize those points in the ways you reach the rest of the decision-makers.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.