The Purchasing Decision Maze

Like most of us I have made a purchases for both products and services some of which I have to admit I procrastinated over before finally making a decision. So I thought I would dig a bit deeper into what drove my procrastination and then finally to make a decision on one product or service over another.

As I started to make the list I realised how many different considerations both conscious and unconscious beyond just what I wanted to buy I had actually considered.

Here are a few in no particular order

  • Security … Do I trust the company with my information, money, etc.?
  • Privacy… How is my data being used and who can see it and will the company tell me?
  • Price … Is it what I expect to pay and how does it compare with competitors?
  • Local .. Is the product or service physically close to me and do I need to care? Especially for any returns or refunds.
  • Honesty … Will the product or service meet the marketing hype? On a renewal, i.e. insurance policy for instance, are they giving me their best price?
  • Transparency …How transparent are they being about their product or service?
  • Safe … Does the company have my personal safety and security as their first priority and how do they demonstrate it.
  • Form and Fit … Is the item aesthetically pleasing, colour, weight, shape, size, etc. what options do I have and is there after market scalability?
  • Functionality … Will it do everything I want it to do and how many of these functions or services do I really need and will actually use verses nice to have. Is there an opportunity up increase or reduce the functional options?
  • Brand … Is it a brand I like, dislike or have no emotion about at all, actually in my case most fall into the last two categories. But why do I dislike a particular brand and would I ever buy from them?
  • Online v On premise … Where will I finally buy it? Buying on line is faster, easier and more convenient but on premise I get to touch and experience the product. There are advantages and disadvantages to both so how do I decide?
  • Value … Do I believe the product or service will provide the value I’m looking for and is there a better option and a better price?
  • Service … What is the quality of the sales service during enquiry, will I value and trust this during and after purchase?
  • Staff attitude … Whether it is Online chat, phone, in store or email etc. or even the tone of the online experience, how easy and welcomed am I feeling?
  • Cash incentives Is the company signed up to a cash incentive scheme, what is it worth and is it valuable enough to temp me from one supplier to another?

Is this unusual? Having spoken to a number of people about their recent purchases this list seems to hold true with many procrastinating over at least one or other of the items. So no wonder it’s getting complicated.

Despite most of these considerations being subconscious they do delay the purchase and, if you think about buying something relatively costly like car insurance, holiday, bicycle, watch, kitchen sink, car etc. then this becomes even more acute. Even at the DIY store or supermarket some of these elements come into play and how often have you checked prices or deals online whilst you are there? I know it isn’t just me. Many of us will check items in a store then buy online to get the benefits from online shopping, including the cash back incentive programs.

Marketers are constantly tweaking our buying senses using a variety of buying levers to get us to their product or service more quickly, some are either ignored, taken for granted or not even comprehended in many cases, certainly from some of the experiences I’ve had. This is where Customer Experience personnel have an opportunity. Marketing tend to care about the brand, the product / service, the value, functionality, price, journey and touch points of the purchase but this is but a part of the bigger picture.

The other elements about how the customer is left feeling is equally as important, if a company wants to win and retain loyalty. The customer experience professional has to take a holistic view of not only the how, why, where and what the customer is buying but also levers that manipulate the emotional, contextual, spiritual and the sense of security reactions.

Over time these levers will inevitably evolve as new considerations come into play, such as who is my new fridge talking to and what is it telling them about me and how I live? The CX players will have to be ahead of the game as they look across not only how the business is marketed, but also how IT service the roads to purchase, how HR brief and select the people, how the customer touch teams (pre and post sales) service and support the customers and where the business and industry are headed.

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