Marketers can no longer be satisfied with the traditional five-stage buying process model: problem recognition, information research, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post purchase behavior. They must shift toward a model that is more robust, considering every consumer touch point prior to problem recognition and through the life of the product (and into the next purchase).
This is especially true as communication becomes an inescapable part of every product, with communication-centric technologies baked into them or as communication-based networks are developed around them. In some cases, communication is part of the product and customer experience, influencing the buying process every step of the way.
Five areas where communication is becoming critical to the customer experience.
Communication that integrates seamlessly with the environment becomes part of the experience.
attention some time ago when it unveiled its future concept to eliminate the motorcyclist's blind spot with a rear facing camera and change the experience with an interactive and transparent head's up display. This technology isn't built to distract drivers but rather eliminate distractions with an assist from augmented reality for GPS convenience and the safety of situational awareness.
Communication applications built into the helmet become an integral part of the product itself.
Digital content and communication is shifting toward truly functional customer experiences.
Presentation displays and increasingly portable data will redefine what's possible for communication.
Immersive and responsive communication will challenge professionals in unimaginable ways.
While these are just some of the ways that technology is working to change the interface, all of them represent the increasing impact communication will have on the customer experience. It will become an ever-present part of the environment and will sometimes be baked into the very functionality of the product.
But even without these advances and near future, communication is playing an ever increasing role in the customer experience. Every bit of content produced and shared by organizations today have positive and negative consequences to brand recognition and reputation. This includes customer service complaints that play out publicly online to the frequency of irrelevant interruption and value of the communication offered (as opposed to the value organizations sometimes think they offer).
And with this in mind, maybe it is time to stop thinking so much about a sales funnel but an experience corridor that a company provides from its initial introduction though the life of the product and eventual replacement. After all, customer satisfaction, not sales, is a truer benchmark for longevity.