Consumer behavior includes the processes and motives that drive consumer buying activities. Consumers typically make purchases in a systematic way, with the time frame and nature of the process dependent on the type of purchase. The standard consumer buying process with a service has some specific differences from a product-based purchase situation.
The first step in the consumer decision-making process is need discovery. This stage is where a consumer realizes he has a functional or emotional need or want. In engaging in a service scenario, consumers recognize several common needs. One is expertise. A consumer might hire a plumber or electrician for their service expertise, for instance. Time savings, more valuable ways to spend time and simply not liking to perform a certain activity are among needs or motives for a service purchase.
The second phase of the buying process is information search. During this stage, the buyer looks for information and evaluates providers on certain criteria. Services are intangible, so buyers often need to consult company websites and talk with sales reps to evaluate options. Additionally, services are often highly involved purchases for buyers because of the costs and importance. To get someone to hire your roofing company, you must provide significant information about the value of your materials and service relative to competitors.
Buyers typically want to see proof of benefits before making a product or service purchase. With products, you can show buyers how the product works and demonstrate the benefits. With intangible services, you can’t. You can, however, provide customer testimonials emphasizing the quality, reliability and value of your service. It is also important to connect with customers’ emotions by communicating the value of your expertise or the time that you save them.
Following a purchase, customers compare what they experience with what they expected. This point makes follow-up and follow-through on commitments important to customer satisfaction, repeat business and referrals. What makes a service experience distinct is that the people that provide it are especially key to the customer’s perception of the experience. Getting customer feedback on the quality of service provided by all employees involved in the sale and delivery of the service is helpful in making any necessary improvements.