Often, we think of customer experience across the entirety of the customer journey. We analyze each point and try to maximize the experience as best we can. However, all moments are not created equal. There are specific moments that leave impressions on customers. Specifically, the ends and the extremes of the customer experience stick with them. When you’re looking to improve your customer experience with your product/service, start by considering the beginning, high point, low point and end of the customer journey.
First impressions are important to customer experience because they define the customer’s expectations. When a potential customer learns about a product or service, they initially begin to develop an impression about a prospective experience. This first impression can come in many forms — a referral from a friend, an advertisement, an online article or even an online review. Regardless, the potential customer begins to develop expectations about what it will be like when they get the product or service, including how it will make their lives better. Copywriters usually focus on the single biggest competitive advantage a product has in order to lure customers in and ensure that when they purchase, that competitive advantage is top-of-mind and (assuming the product/service delivers on that advantage) delights the customer.
If a consumer decides to purchase a product or service, that means they have high expectations. They’re already convinced it’s worth opening up their wallet. The ability to meet those high expectations is the first major point of customer experience.
High points are an important part of the customer experience. Usually, this is the best part of the experience, or where the core value of the product or service is delivered. If we’re thinking of a chocolate bar, it’s the moment the consumer bites in and experiences the flavor for the first time. If we’re thinking of an internet service provider, it’s the moment the consumer connects for the first time and streams a movie with high speed.
Peaks are the special opportunities to delight a customer. Sometimes, businesses overlook the importance of these moments. Most businesses know when their peaks are, and rather than capitalize on the moment, they turn their attention to problem areas. However, this misses an opportunity. Businesses should drive home these peaks with further enhancement, like timing peaks with opportunities for a customer review, or having a representative follow up to see how they’re enjoying the peak moment. Peaks are golden opportunities to obtain passionate brand advocates who help spread word about your product or service.
Most executives and directors focus their attention on the valleys of their goods/services. These are the “low” moments that disappoint and frustrate. If we consider the example of the chocolate bar, a valley might be when the consumer opens the wrapper only to find the bar melted. In the example of internet service, a valley would be an outage or issues getting the internet properly installed and having to go weeks without.
Businesses tend to focus on these weak areas, and this focus is important. Valleys can turn an otherwise satisfied customer off for good. Hitting a critical point of lowness can put customers over the edge and move them mentally to a place that is beyond repair. By focusing on improving valleys, businesses can leave the door open to repair and improve experiences with their customers in the future.
Perhaps the most lasting impression customers maintain are at the end of an experience with a service or product. This is particularly true in B2B or B2C services. For example, a customer getting their oil changed may remember a free air freshener placed in their car, getting their vehicle back early or a complimentary car wash. This parting gift leaves a good taste in their mouth, and will be the first thing they think of when they need their oil changed again. Whether the experience or product delivery is good or bad, a parting favor or gesture is always appreciated. The end of the customer journey is a great place to start for businesses looking to improve their overall customer experience.