The customer experience is something that is mentioned and discussed a lot in modern online business literature. It’s cited a lot in pieces discussing the importance of CRM, and choosing CRM software wisely. It’s also discussed quite a bit when it comes to customer service and support as well as marketing and the like. But, understanding customer experience seems to be difficult for many people.
Well, this isn’t because people are stupid, nor is it because the concept is that complex or difficult. The reason understanding customer experience is such a difficult thing for so many is because everyone in the universe is horrible at explaining this concept in a way that makes sense to sane people.
See, the people who do the complex tasks of mapping and analyzing customer experience academically and statistically have to be a special kind of crazy to love this work, and to be good at it. So often times, documentation explaining this concept, or graphics trying to demonstrate it are bizarre and alien things that the rest of humanity just can’t wrap their minds around.
Well, I’m going to solve that problem. In my usual (and seemingly popular) fashion, I’m going to give you a down to earth, no nonsense explanation of the customer experience. You’ll be able to understand the alien glyphs the experts show you after this as well. How neat is that?
Customer experience is basically the sum of events and phases experienced by the business and the customer throughout the entire time of contact and interaction from the two. It consists of four basic phases, sometimes an extra one, sometimes one less.
The first phase is called need creation or initial awareness. This is when the user either discovers they need a solution, or become aware of a need for it as a result of your marketing strategies. Ideally, you want it to be the latter, not the former.
After this, they enter the initial research phase, which is where they research your company and your product. They will consult your sites, so publish a lot of information and try to control the media about you as much as you can. They will consult third party sources like blogs and websites about your general industry, and they will compare you to competition.
The next phase is sometimes not present, or considered part of the previous, and that’s trial. Trial is when any demo of the product or service is made available, and is mostly just a transitional point to mark, usually, the end of the customer’s research phase, and a transition into decision.
Decision is sometimes called purchase, and if they’re still part of this experience, they chose you. This will include transaction, contract singing, training and installation and any other tasks pertinent to getting things going.
The final phase is customer service and support, which sometimes isn’t present if the customer encounters no problems and requires no inquiries further. This phase is important, because if you botch it where it does happen (and it will happen at least a quarter of the time), it’ll build you a terrible reputation faster than anything else ever could.
So you see, understanding customer experience isn’t difficult once you see what it is, and just look at the basic steps that are involved. Of course, this is slight oversimplification of some of the aspects I mentioned, but that was the point here.