Which is more important: the journey or the destination?
This age-old debate sparks questions about whether we should focus our efforts and energy on where we are now or where we’re headed. Oftentimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the destination.
Think about your favorite vacation spot, for example. Now, let’s be honest, if we could snap our fingers and be there without the stress of packing, traveling, and so forth, we’d all choose to have that ability. But wishful thinking aside, when it comes to vacation time, the journey of getting there occurs before the destination.
To answer our original question, you can’t reach your arrival goal without taking the journey, and the trip would be pointless without the destination. This same principle applies to ensuring your organization’s success.
Retention applies to vacation destinations, and it most certainly applies to your organization’s relationship with your audience. In both cases, beaches and business owners alike rely on creating an experience that makes their audience happy and keeps them coming back for more.
Your clients bring value to your business. As an organization leader, you must ensure that the journey and destination they go on combine to create an experience that turns them from one-time buyers to long-term committed fans. To do this, you have to be cognizant of the customer lifecycle.
This process starts with prospects becoming aware of your brand and services, making a purchase, and ideally developing brand loyalty. In other words, the destination (your product or service) may be what draws them in, but without a positive customer experience (the journey), you lose the opportunity to retain them.
The customer lifecycle has five stages.
Reaching your audience may sound simple, but just doing the basics isn’t enough. Think about when you’re planning a trip. Do you contact every hotel you come across in your research or just the select few that stand out to you? Your online presence has to be strong, your brand unique, and your SEO effective enough that your audience chooses you.
Once a prospect has contacted you, you mustn’t leave them walking away feeling disappointed. Be ready to answer their questions and learn more about their needs. That way, you can highlight the correct services and provide them the information they require to make a decision. Think about it, if you called a rental agency and they couldn’t answer your questions, would you choose them?
Once they’ve experienced what your organization has to offer and decided you’re the right fit, they make a purchase that transforms them from a prospect to a customer. At this time, it’s vital that they feel the value you’re providing them because that makes the difference between a one-time visitor and someone who can’t wait for their next trip.
Whether you’re a retailer seeking to increase sales or an association wanting to grow membership, your goal is to create an enjoyable and unforgettable experience that your audience is eager to return to. To do so, you must understand what they like about your brand and what areas need to be improved. The purpose is to implement what you've learned throughout your customer's cycle.
Even in a world full of new sights to see, everyone has a favorite vacation spot. It’s their ride-or-die location that they always look forward to and constantly promote to others. You want your customers to do this for your organization. Following the other four stages, the creation of brand loyalty enhances the potential of word-of-mouth marketing. It ensures you always stay elevated above your competitors in the eyes of your consumers.
Remember to embrace the value your audience brings to your organization and take the time to prove that what you offer gives value to them. Be a great destination, yes, but don't forget to create a journey your customers can't wait to return to!