Customer Decision Intelligence: A guide to understanding & leveraging customer perceptions to shape decisions
In our Customer Decision Loop eBook, we learned how to map customers’ decisions from the moment their need arises to the moment they decide “yes, it’s worth it” to exchange their money for a product or service. And we also learned that this happens cyclically; every time customers are faced with the same decision, different factors may come into play.
But most importantly, we learned that every decision starts with a need, and these needs don’t actually change that often.
What does shift constantly and rapidly are customers’ expectations. They change every time innovation or cutting-edge technology is released, every time there is a life-changing event, or when the world as we know it gets reshaped by something out of our control, like a global pandemic.
As companies, our job is to monitor and keep up with these expectations so that customers see us as the best choice when the time comes to make the decision.
So, how do we keep up with customers’ speed of change? How do we monitor the occasionally subtle, but other times abrupt fluctuations in the market and stay ahead of our competition?
Before we get into understanding the customer decision loop, let’s recap the loop itself.
The Customer Decision Loop describes the four stages that each customer goes through when deciding whether to make a purchase or not.
Step 1 of the loop represents Needs.
A purchase decision is always sparked by a need. It may be an essential need (think Maslow’s Pyramid) or a superficial one (think pleasure purchases or wants). Everything we do, every decision or purchase we make, serves at least one of those needs to some degree.
Contrary to popular belief, the core needs that people have rarely change; new ways to address those needs simply arise, and there can be multiple ways to fulfill that same need.
For example, the need for transportation has always existed, it’s simply the mode of transportation available that evolves — i.e. horse and carriage vs. car.
Step 2: Expectations.
This is the moment when we begin to search for alternatives that fit our needs.
As we consider the wide range of options the market has to offer, expectations are formed. While the need itself doesn’t constantly change, our expectations do. In fact, they shift amazingly fast — boosted by the speed of innovation and technology advancements.
At this moment, we’re not only considering options that are affordable, or feasible. That comes later.
In Step 2, our expectations are unrestricted and we’re simply taking in everything that is for sale.
Step 3: the “Worthiness Analysis”.
This is when we curb our expectations so that they fit into our reality.
Is it too big? Too small? Too flashy? Can I afford this? Is the service good? Do others recommend this? Is this a reputable brand?
We ask ourselves all of these questions to try to determine whether or not a product or service we are considering is “worth it”. In other words, do the benefits outweigh the costs?
Step 4 is the Decision itself.
After weighing out all the pros and cons, we choose the alternative that best fits our needs.
But we’re not done yet! This is a loop after all. Every time there is a shift in the market or the world that changes our expectations, we go right back to repeating Steps 2–4 over and over again as long as the need exists.
In the Customer Decision Intelligence eBook, we dive deeper into customer decisions. You’ll learn how to track customer expectations and how their perceptions of the experiences they have with your company shape their ultimate decision to buy from you or not.
Click here to get more insight on the Customer Decision Loop, the perception drivers that are working in the background, and a working example of how you can use this concept to deliver on the experiences your customers care about most.