You already know that your primary marketing objective is to create that exceptional and memorable customer experience (CX) to attract and keep your target audience. Part of succeeding at this goal involves understanding the customer experience journey—where it begins and where it ends. Let’s look at how the journey plays out.
Some question if there is a concrete sign that indicates that beginning of a customer experience. Due to many channels, there are so many ways that a potential customer comes into contact with a brand.
The customer experience can start with an ad or social media post. It might also be the first time a prospect visits a company’s website or store even if they don’t buy anything.
But, the exact moment a prospect sees their interaction as a customer experience does vary. That’s because some prospects and eventual customers had some type of customer experience long before that first interaction.
It could have been vicariously through someone they trust who shared their own experiences. Even reading reviews about a company from other people on a review site is the start to a customer experience. But, it might be the end if the reviews are bad. Those secondary source customer experiences stay with someone as they move toward a direct company interaction.
The lesson here is that the customer experience starts as soon as a prospect or customer has a need and they start looking for ways to meet that need.
From that point begins what most companies think of when they picture CX. This is where most companies focus their attention and resources. It involves website and in-store interactions, purchases, deliveries, technical support and assistance, and returns and exchanges. This part of the customer experience may also involve feedback or follow-up experiences.
Although these other midpoint moments between the potential start and end to the customer experience are important, any opinion formed previously may counter what you offer here. On a positive note, if you do the customer experience correctly, it may change or enhance the initial opinion in direct and indirect touchpoints from the starting point.
The reality is that there is no real end to the customer experience for a company unless a customer decides to never return, and the company makes no effort to win them over again. In reality, the customer experience is not a tangible journey that starts at Point A and ends at Point Z.
Instead, view the customer experience as a process. It’s ongoing, builds on previous interactions and perceptions, changes from a positive to a negative and back again, and evolves over time as different expectations appear. You’ll need to continually assess and measure your data to see what’s working and what isn’t for as long as you have customers.
The customer experience is a process that involves everyone in your organization and is often influenced by those outside of your organization. Help the entire team understand the importance of customer care and emphasize the role they play in creating the ideal customer experience. You’ll need to dig deep into available data and leverage AI-enabled tools and mobile marketing to identify patterns in real time to respond and/or pivot as quickly as possible.
Therefore, there is a different way to look at the customer experience going forward. First, there is the customer thought process made in those indirect and direct moments mentioned at the start of this article.
It’s in these initial moments where you should devote additional resources and attention. In doing so, you may help move these prospects to the purchase process sooner and in larger numbers. For example, if there are issues that exist in reviews, address those by responding to each negative review, offering a solution and explaining how you plan to make specific changes.
From there, you will also need to create a transition strategy:
Share relevant content on social media that appeals to what you understand about each audience segment’s needs and interests.
Do the same with the in-store experience, creating a warm, welcoming, and helpful environment.
Then, the purchase process is next and where most companies start their efforts. By implementing many of the strategies listed above, you are helping create the mental perspective for these customers. You are shaping their decision that your brand is the right choice. Here, you can funnel resources toward differentiating yourself. The strategy could include extra value, special touches, and an individual service offering.
From there, add in the retention process for those who have completed the purchase process. Focus on addressing those that did not have a good customer experience. Follow this up by developing ways to enhance what was already viewed as a memorable customer experience.
Testing and optimization play integral roles in your customer experience. Find out how to “Go Further with Customer Experience Optimization.”
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru, and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #3 on the Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and a blogging expert by Forbes.