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The fourth step in the journey towards customer satisfaction is communicating value. No one will buy my products and services no matter how beautiful and perfect they are if they don’t know they exist. Communication is important, but it has to start from an essential assumption.

Everything is perception.

What is great for me may leave someone else indifferent, what I consider trivial and obvious may be seen by others as something valuable, something they absolutely must have. The object itself is not different; it’s the person making the evaluations that is different. Understanding this deeply means taking another right step on the path toward customer satisfaction.

We have seen that the first thing is to understand market expectations, what customers want. If we don’t start from there, everything is more difficult. The second step is to imagine a value configuration capable of meeting the expectations and needs of customers. Obviously, provided we have understood well what they want. The third element is the practical realization of what we imagined, trying to balance the inevitable compromises that will be necessary since the resources at our disposal are always, by definition, limited.

But all will have been in vain if we do not let our target customers know that we can provide the solution to their problems. We will have done nothing if we are not able to effectively communicate the value proposition we offer to the market.

The initial consideration, everything is perception, is fundamental.

Value is not objective but subjective.

I may be convinced that I am making the best product in the world in terms of quality, manufacturing techniques, or any other parameter that comes to mind, but the truth is that this counts for nothing if 1) it’s not important in the eyes of those who should buy and if 2) they are not able to appreciate these characteristics because they are not communicated to them.

Here is the essence of market orientation and customer satisfaction. Here is the essence of positioning. We must communicate. And to do that, we must act on the right levers and use the right channels.

First of all, a fundamental element: (unfortunately) no one cares about the features of our product (or service). What matters are the benefits, i.e., how the features of the product or service we are offering can intersect with and improve people’s lives. Or rather, the specific phase of people’s lives that we are intercepting.

An important thing when we imagine a communication strategy towards the market is to recognize that people approach the purchase of a product or service following a phased path, which today is fashionable to call the Buyer’s Journey, articulated in awareness, consideration, and decision. The task of modern communication is to use the tools available (both online and offline) to accompany customers on this journey and, in doing so, gain their trust, a very important thing in an increasingly crowded market full of confusion.

So, three phases.

Awareness.

In this phase, people are becoming aware of having a problem. They are not buying; they are thinking about how their life could be better than it is now, and they are not sure what they should do. They feel dissatisfied, even if they are generally not 100% aware of it; they are looking for something.

In this phase, the purpose of communication activities is to inform, to raise awareness of the possibility of taking action. A company cannot create a need, but it can help the customer to focus on a need. It’s a subtle but important distinction.

For example, a person may discover in this phase that they want to progress professionally because they see their friends moving forward or because they feel a decline in motivation and satisfaction. At this moment, the groundwork is laid for subsequent actions.

The contents that are good for intercepting potential customers who are in this phase are informative content, for example, some research on the evolution of professional figures, the average level of salaries, and the most sought-after skills, …

Consideration.

In this phase, the person is now aware of the existence of a problem or an opportunity and has decided to do something, they are deciding what. Among the many available action possibilities, they must choose one.

At a high level, though.
They are not choosing a specific supplier (not yet), but rather a way to address and solve their problem.

Returning to the previous example, the available opportunities will be a job change, whether it’s looking for a new position within the current company or looking for something outside, or a training course that can increase skills and make the person aspire to something more and different.

If we are a training company, in communicating the value of our offer, we will be interested in steering towards the second solution, if we are a career services company, we will push towards the first.

Here, communication must orient.

Decision.

People who are in this phase have made the choice; they have decided how to respond to the challenge they face. Communication activities towards these customers are aimed at directing the choice towards us. So, to convert.

Here the goal is to demonstrate our superiority over competitors, the elements of differentiation. This is where we play our cards, but if we have also worked well in the previous phases, we will probably start from a higher level than others because we will have gained the customer’s trust.

Studying Buyer Personas and their Buyer Journey is a very important activity because it allows us to understand what are the key elements to build an offer capable of satisfying their needs. Following the evolution of customers, imagining their journey is fundamental. Knowing which channels they use is vital to be able to get in touch with them, leveraging the right motivations, and saying the right things. This is the basis of communication.

And since we are talking about the Buyer’s Journey, an important consideration should be added. Customer satisfaction is not achieved when the customer buys our product or service. That’s just a moment, as important as you want, but satisfaction is earned day after day.

For this reason, we like to add two further stages.

Enjoyment.

This is the phase in which the customer has purchased and the relationship begins. There are a whole series of activities that need to be done, and done well.

Customer Onboarding, for example, is the set of activities needed to welcome the customer. Or customer service activities, where we respond to requests for clarification or assistance from customers. Or loyalty activities that are needed to convince them to buy again, perhaps other products (cross-selling) or more advanced versions of the product (up-selling).

These are all activities where communicating value in the right way is fundamental.

Advocacy.

Here, this is the most important phase of all.
This is where customers end up if we have worked well on the concept of customer satisfaction.

The advocacy phase is where customers are so happy with us that they act as sellers themselves. They talk to their friends and trigger that word of mouth that we saw at the beginning to be one of the determinants of customer expectations.

So the circle is closed.

All the activities we do to communicate the value that our company offers to the market should be aimed at guiding the customer on this path towards satisfying their needs, which ends with the recommendation of our products and services to other customers, potential or actual.

And that’s why someone, in addition to talking about a funnel, talks about a flywheel.