The Customer Ladder

Trade in the customer purchase funnel for the customer ladder.

The Purchase Funnel helps project sales for the short-term but misses the mark when the aim is to create customer loyalty for long-term growth.

Instead of forcing customers through the funnel to squeeze them for all their profit, the customer ladder focuses on creating satisfaction and empowerment.

And that’s where the first rung of the ladder starts, with satisfaction.

It’s where customers have tried the product or service and have found it to be as advertised. Having achieved satisfaction, customers begin to trust the brand. And with trust, they consider repurchasing the product or service, providing it proved useful.

On the second rung of the ladder, we have delight.

Delight serves as a way to go above the customers’ expectations and is the main predictor of a customer recommending your service. With delight comes increased trust and peak experience. An experience that surprised or excited the customer in some way.

The third rung is engagement.

This is when a customer is truly engaged with a brand. Leading towards increased re-purchasing habits and an emotional attachment that goes beyond patronage. The brand starts to become a part of their identity, giving them success, well-being, or fulfillment. Brands who consistently perform well in this area, outperform the stock market by 120% (Havas’s Meaningful Brand Index).

The fourth and final rung is customer empowerment.

At this point, the customer has become so attached to the brand that they have come to rely on it.

Now the brand is providing emotional support, social status, personal growth, business success, or fulfillment. And this empowered customer serves to attract more customers with their magnetic sense of commitment.

The customer ladder, as the name would suggest, empowers customers to reach higher and achieve growth. It can also act as a guidepost for pointing your businesses in the right direction.

Unlike the funnel, the ladder positions you for long-term growth instead of short-term gain.

However, the ladder shouldn’t be taken as a strategy to create superficial benefits for customers. Nor is it some get-rich-quick scheme. The ladder takes work to build. But there’s no point building the ladder if customers don’t want to climb it.

Because of this, every rung should be designed with the customer in mind. Constantly asking questions as to how we can best serve the brand’s audience, or if the experience you’re creating is generating value in the lives of customers. If there’s no value in it for the customer, there’s no reason to climb the ladder.

By moving away from the funnel, we can give our customers more opportunity for relevant engagements that work to create meaningful experiences, which in turn create value. Value built from satisfaction, delight, engagement and empowerment.

Tanner Garniss-Marsh takes the guesswork out of branding, helping leaders grow their business with branding they and their customers love.


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