Businesses used to have all the power. Traditionally, consumers were restricted by considerations such as geographic location and access. If your particular retail and shopping catchment area happened to have poor customer service, you didn’t really have much recourse beyond writing a strongly-worded letter or two.
Today, however, businesses, whether they realise it or not, are competing on a global scale. Your business’s competitors are all just a click away. And what’s more, customers know this.
With a myriad of online retail solutions all easily available, customers are empowered more than ever and have become increasingly selective about which businesses they spend their hard-earned money on.
So, with this in mind, check out our list of five things consumers look for before choosing your business.
This might seem obvious but have you carefully considered what your pricing is telling consumers? Pricing is arguably your business’s most important consideration when reviewing profitability. Often, especially for smaller businesses, their product pricing is simply a representation of costs versus required profit margins, or just a reflection of industry-related price tags, as opposed to a specific function designed to increase revenue.
According to analyst Stephen King, there are three main pricing models one should understand before committing to specific prices.
What do you think is the most a customer will pay for your goods or services? What does your consumer data show about how much value you are delivering to your customers? Is this reflected in the pricing?
Target Gross Profit Margin models allow your business a holistic perspective on your performance with a strong focus on bigger-picture percentages, and long-term value, especially when it relates to your business costs versus revenue.
This cost-focused model considers your entire cost of doing business in determining the percentage add-on per business function or product.
On one level or another, all purchases are driven by emotion. Whether one wants their mood to improve, is looking to impress their peers or is consciously or subconsciously seeking association with a particular product or brand, emotional drivers are key in extracting value from one's market.
“Have a bad day, get a new pair of shoes. Broke-up with your boyfriend? How about a whole new wardrobe? Spending money to help us feel better has been a long-standing coping mechanism…thus, happiness does not come specifically from the objects we buy. It is an emotion associated with our motivations for making those purchases.,” according to clinical psychologist Sheila Forman, PhD.
Successful businesses must understand that the 'feelings' associated with their brand or products are just as important as the actual products themselves. With this in mind, business owners should very carefully consider how they market, package and sell their different product lines or brands.
Speaking to millennials interested in ‘cool’ or ‘sustainability’, for example, requires a totally different communications approach than selling to older customers who may be focused more on value.
Businesses determined to maximise their bottom line must take the time and effort to understand their market’s emotional keys and use these insights when selling and marketing.
So, in a nutshell, your customers want to feel positive after their interactions with your brand. Therefore, you should ensure you're geared to offer them an emotionally fulfilling experience from first point of contact right up to your post-purchase communications.
According to Customer Experience Consultancy, “32% of respondents stated reliability (or keeping promises) as one of their top three things. We want and need to be able to trust organisations to do the things they say they will.”
We’ve all dealt with businesses or brands who make all sorts of wonderful promises and never deliver, from ensuring a manager will call you back, to promising same-day delivery — this lack of follow through and reliability is a major reason why especially smaller businesses fail.
Committing to a specific course of action with a client or customer and then failing to follow through is arguably the best way to lose repeat business and create a negative feedback loop.
Consider the following: does your business stand by its word and product claims? Do you have a dedicated customer success team or protocol? How important is being trusted to you?
How intuitive is your website? How quickly does it load? How well-trained are your service and customer-focused staff? What about your delivery processes? Will your customers receive their purchases on time? Are your billing and payment methods secure and reliable?
Your business is competing with thousands of other options. The above list of customer convenience-focused non-negotiables may be just the basics of running a good business, but if you can't deliver on making your customers' journeys as convenient as possible, your competitors will.
"A 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit." So, if your protocols are not geared towards customer retention via simple reliability and convenience, then you really are missing a trick." - Bain and Company.
The most obvious consideration when it comes to purchasing decisions, is quality. Otherwise known as value for money, the quality of your goods and services is one of the key drivers of customer behaviour.
While the idea of ‘quality’ often speaks to the state of physical goods and services, today’s reality is that with so many options available, consumers demand ‘quality’ at every stage of their purchasing journey, from initial communications, to purchasing assistance; from point-of-sale security and convenience to reliable and fast delivery.
The ‘quality’ of your entire marketing, purchasing and follow-up cycle must be consistently reviewed with a view to adding value to the customer journey.
So, it really all comes down to this: if your business is able to provide a quality experience from start to finish, your customer will keep coming back!
According to Insight-Quality, there are five main reasons why ‘quality’ should inform your business’s protocols.
Customer loyalty is the holy grail of consumer relationships and management. Offer your customers the quality they deserve, and they will become your biggest brand advocates
In this digital retail age, your brand reputation is everything. Once the narrative builds that your business offers shoddy quality, you might as well shut up shop.
Few things can kill a brand, like a mass-product failure or recall. Further, ensuring your products and services are of the first water eliminates refund and customer service requests and costs.
While investing in high-quality products, materials or personnel may seem expensive, remember that it's far more expensive to convert new customers than it is to keep existing ones. Focusing on reduced costs at the expense of quality leads to a negative spiral effect, resulting in the loss of customers and brand reputation.
Whether you're a restaurant or a financial services provider, the quality factor also speaks to your back-end processes. Is your kitchen clean and up to code? Are your financial analysts familiar with the latest relevant legislation? Do you have your operational ducks in a row?
Research shows that products, brands and businesses with intentional, well-executed customer review management protocols are more likely to attract both loyal customers and once-off shoppers.
This is referred to as Social Proof — a "psychological and social phenomenon referring to people's reliance on the feedback and actions of others to determine what is right and what is wrong in a given situation."
Your customers are more likely to respond to products and brands that have been 'road-tested' by other consumers. In fact, before making a purchase, "approximately 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses," according to Business News Daily.
Your customers trust Hellopeter's consumer-written reviews up to 12 times more than your own product descriptions or sales spiel. Make sure you lean into creating, growing and exploiting the free value inherent in a responsive, connected review community.
Hellopeter not only provides you and your customers a curated space to engage. On the other hand, Hellopeter Business also provides a host of customisable, affordable tools and solutions to improve your business's communications and growth protocols across the board.
Hellopeter is the market-defining leader in helping businesses achieve their optimised reputation and improved return on investment.
Partner with South Africa's number one online review platform today and say 'hello' to more customers finding you, buying from you, and becoming your biggest fans.