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Consumer Experience Doesn't End with a Sale

Daniel Foppen
CX Service Strategy

The Age of CX

“Customer experience” (CX) is the most common word in the world of CRM software. In short, the idea of customer experience focuses on the consumer journey–a cycle that includes not only the purchasing phase, but the owning phase as well. Along this never-ending cycle are touch points where savvy brands can influence their customers. But not all touch points are getting the attention that they deserve.

Enter CX software vendors into the consumer journey. At Oracle we offer a platform for organizations to orchestrate and connect all the different touch points of a customer's journey, ranging from early engagements through ads, social media, and marketing content, to the nurturing, buying, delivering and service phases.

In this infinitive loop, there are more activities and touch points in the earlier part of the buying phases than in the owning phases. In theory that makes sense. A customer interacts more with a business when evaluating and buying a product than after the purchase, when they own and use the product. Once you buy a product, you expect it to work, right? To continue interacting with the business seems unnecessary.

On the flipside, if you plot out a timeline for this buying and owning cycle, you'll observe that the “buy” part of the journey is only a fraction of the total time spent with the product. A customer may spend just a few weeks, or even days, on investigating, evaluating and buying the product while owning and using the product or solution could encompass years. 

While ideally the touch points after a purchase are kept to a minimum, the reality is that your customers’ interactions in the owning phase are hugely important opportunities for your business.

This raises the question: Are you making the post-buying experience as seamless as the buying experience?

As a consumer, I often see businesses invest in a successful buying journey while overlooking the intrinsic touch points that come after the sale.

That is perfectly understandable. Marketing is often a nimbler and better-funded department than cost centers like customer service. It’s easier to measure the ROI of solutions to increase conversion than it is to measure the ROI of a better service experience. As a result, marketing is able to move faster than other parts in the business.

But the customer journey is a closed loop. The owning phase is just as important as the buying phase, because your customers will eventually share their experiences with their peers, through social media, communities, blogs and other channels that are out of your control. By focusing on delivering positive experiences through the entire customer journey, brands can help ensure that these customer testimonials will positively influence a future audience. 

Investing in CX also means investing in back-end systems and processes

So how do brands appropriately invest in CX? Successful businesses focus as much on the after-sales experience as the pre-sales experience. They deliver great customer service by deploying the solutions and technology that their customers demand, such as self-service environments, modern engagement channels, smart and contextual answers, mobile service options, and so forth.

When it comes to designing a post-buying experience, these brands focus on the convenience and effort required by its customers as guiding principles.

However, when companies evaluate solutions to manage the post-buying experience, many focus instead on factors such as compliance, system architecture, integration frameworks, price, look-and-feel and so on. The solution that enhances the experience for the end customer gets overlooked.

Recently I went through the experience of choosing a new bank. The bank did all the right things while I was evaluating options: It featured a well-structured and informative website, a pleasant welcoming branch experience and a good range of products that met my needs. But once I signed up, it all went downhill.

Being a customer wasn’t seamless–as it had been before. The archaic processes, procedures, paperwork, lack of personalization, silo-ed departments, ancient and limited contact channel options clearly were not designed to make my experience as a customer more convenient. In fact, that experience was so drastically inconvenient that it pushed me to switch to an online, modern bank instead. The first bank lost a customer for life.

It takes more than just the right solutions and technology to improve the customer experience; the processes around those solutions need to be effective and efficient. 

Design incrementally with effort in mind

All in all, it can be difficult to make changes to heavy, old systems running in the background, especially in a highly regulated environment like banking. But if changing systems and processes means a better experience for your customers–especially in the post-purchasing phase––it will be worth it in the long run for customer retention. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all at once.

Although it would be great to completely transform how your business operates, an incremental approach is more realistic. Re-evaluate how customers interact with your business and focus on factors like convenience and how much effort your processes require. Participate in a customer experience journey mapping workshop. It’s likely that there are plenty of small opportunities that you can tackle one by one to incrementally reduce effort and increase convenience for your customers. As a result, your customers will remain loyal and eventually become advocates for your business. 

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