Buyer Experience – Giving CX its ‘X Factor’
A quick review of two concepts to help you focus on what drives more business – the Buyer Experience. Meet BX.
Much has been written about UX (User Experience); and rightly so. I am hard pressed to think of any leading product today that hasn’t benefited from a good dose UX investment. New products today will not cut through and delight users without being intuitively easy and highly engaging for the user.
But, with all this talk of the user there is not enough consideration for the buyer. Where is the love for our buyers people? Customer Experience (CX) starts before the purchase – the very first interaction with customers: before they are users. It is important to remember that buyers are distinctly different to users. Even if it is the same person doing the buying and then ultimately the using – what they are doing, when they are doing it and what they need is different.
Along with a UX focus we need a Buyer Experience (BX) focus. But, what is BX? To me BX encapsulates the perceived experience of someone going through the full buyers journey of Aware – Compare – Adoption – Addiction.
BX encapsulates the perceived experience of someone going through the full buyers journey of Aware – Compare – Adoption – Addiction.
BX is a subset of CX. It covers the engagement before customers become customers. CX covers a huge scope of engagement – the full customer lifecycle. When you dig deeper there are many interactions to understand, crossing all parts of an organisation. So, here we want to focus specifically on the needs and role of a buyer, as a subset of the overall CX. After all, this is the start of the journey for customers and focuses on one of the most important objectives of any commercial business – growth. Growth comes from new customer engagements.
So, in the definition of BX we covered the Buyers Journey. This is a well established concept used by many modern marketers that understand that a buyer becomes a buyer well before a seller knows about it. Commonly the Buyers Journey explores the different phases of buying. First, buyers seek to define their need. Then they seek solutions to meet their needs and compare possible providers of those solutions. The journey typically ends with the selection of a solution. A seller is often only involved in the comparison and selection phases: that is, if they are even involved at all. Here is an interesting statistic from Forrester:
93% [of B2B buyers] say that they prefer buying online rather than from a salesperson when they’ve decided what to buy. Andy Hoar, Forrester
I like to push the limits of the Buyers Journey typically defined; beyond just the adoption of the solution. A Buyers Journey should look further to the point that the customer of the product becomes an addict – a fan of your product. Certainly UX strives for that goal from a user perspective – so too should BX from a buyer’s perspective.
A Quick Word on Fans
How you engage customers to be future fans of your products is something that needs to be planned at the start of the Buyers Journey. Fans of your products are potential sources of the richest, most valuable marketing content possible – advocacy. Advocates – fans of your products, are the most important source of marketing content that can be used through the whole buyers journey. Advocacy is effectively word of mouth marketing. This is the best form of marketing content and much more effective than any marketing content or sales team you run internally.
“You will get more word of mouth from making people happy than anything else you could possibly do.” Andy Sernovitz, author Word of Mouth Marketing.
Here are three statistics that highlight the importance of word of mouth marketing from advocates for business to business purchases:
- Word of mouth influences 92% of all B2B purchases,
- Before making a purchase, 59% of B2B buyers engage with peers who address their challenges, 48% follow industry conversations on a topic, and 37% post questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions.
- More than 8 out of 10 IT decision-makers said word of mouth recommendations are the most important source when making buying decisions.
In summary, if your product fans, the addicts, are contributing content to these online and offline discussions, as well as engaging with your brand then your product is getting the best chance to succeed when it comes to a buyer adopting your solution through their journey.
So, the Buyers Journey is an important concept to understand and build around to establish a compelling BX. The other core requirement is Buyer Personas.
Meet the Buyer Persona
The buyer persona goes hand in hand with the buyers journey. But first, a bit about Personas in general.
For many of us in product management and product marketing we plan, design and promote solutions for a myriad of persona. User personas are in common use today, by many product managers and development teams. It is the best way to ensure product design and development is centered on the needs of the users – to help users achieve their goals…and perhaps entertain them as well.
But, what is a persona? A persona is a fictitious representation of a group of target customers. A persona portrays behaviours and goals of those target customers from either a product user perspective (user persona) or a buyer perspective (buyer persona).
Personas are important because they help ensure products are developed by first addressing the problems of a well understood target audience. Everyone who works together around the creation and promotion of a product can better empathise with an individual with a name and a face than they can thinking about the needs of a target market category or a generalised organisation.
So, lets get specific about Buyer Personas. Buyer personas are fictitious examples of real buyers who influence decisions about the products, services or solutions you take to market. At the same time, they are a powerful tool that builds confidence to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor.
Buyer personas are fictitious examples of real buyers who influence decisions about the products, services or solutions you take to market. At the same time they are a powerful tool that builds confidence to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor.
It is important to use Buyer Personas in your efforts for a great Buyer Experience because the process you go through to establish them will ensure you understand the needs of your buyers, what specific buyer journey steps they go through and how you can help them get to these desired outcomes quickly and easily. Oh, and choosing your solution in the process. You can read more detail about Buyer Personas here.
If you are a product manager, product marketer, entrepreneur or a go to market professional I urge you to dial up your focus on Buyer Experience if you are not already investing in that area. Chances are your competition is doing it. If you offer a BX that is clumsy and out of sync with the needs of your buyers as they go through their buyers journey then you will lose out because you are just wasting their time. Ain’t nobody got time for that!