Consumer perception of a product or service can often be defined, not by the product in isolation, but rather the experience of using the product or service. This is a fundamental principle of branding. It is the overall impression that a consumer develops of your products and services that can deliver competitive advantage.
Consumers are involved in the psychological interaction with the brand, much of which can be defined by the human interaction of the product experience. This is often defined by customer services, although the true consumer experience is much wider. These are a few tips to think about in developing a consumer experience.
Top Tips in developing competitive advantage through consumer experience Payment and credit
Access to credit and finance plans can be very appealing to consumers. This can be a decisive factor in consumer choice.
The process of ordering a product must be easy and accessible. The web is playing an increasingly significant role in the purchasing of products and customer support information. The psychological needs of the consumer must be remembered when making use of these methods. You may, for example, wish to consider providing a telephone number on your web site for customers who prefer to speak to someone in person.
Consumers are becoming increasingly expectant of a speedy and efficient delivery of goods. It is important to consider a rectification program for replacement and non-delivery of goods. Companies should consider strategic partnering when developing a ‘best-in-class’ logistics capability.
Installation of the product or service
When applicable, the installation of the product or service needs to be carefully considered. Consumers expect their products to work straight from the box. This ‘plug and play’ philosophy is gaining momentum and this needs to addressed in the customer support process.
Training and support
Consumers need to have access to training and support services. As products become more technically involved, consumers need to feel confident that they will be fully supported throughout the sales process.
After sales support is critical in developing consumer confidence and brand loyalty. This needs to be continued throughout the lifecycle of the product and not just the first few weeks after the sale. This ‘in-life program’ can provide repeat sales and can deliver valuable consumer insight.
Product guarantees can mitigate purchasing risk and provide brand enhancement.
Logistics and Operations
Having an integrated logistics and operational infrastructure will help drive down costs and enhance the consumer experience through efficiencies that are passed on to the consumer. Most of the above points are integrated in an operational framework.
Competitive advantage and consumer experience
It is important to make sure the consumer is championed throughout the process - from finance, to ordering, to delivery, to installation, to training and after sales support, the consumer experience needs to be at the heart of the decision making process. All of the above needs to be guaranteed and delivered through a ‘best-in-class’ operational framework that is continuously refined to make sure it is competitive and innovative.