Now that we've defined the customer experience and underlined the importance of it, let's take a closer look at the key stages where customers have experiences with your business.
Not all of these stages apply to all businesses, but they're fairly universal.
Brand Awareness. This is where a customer first learns about your brand. It's where you come across their radar for the first time. This could be through ads, online content, the recommendation of a friend, seeing your storefront, etc.
Interest. The next stage is where the customer begins to take an interest in your products or services. They move from simple awareness of your brand to actively seeking out more information. They may research your company, look at your website, or ask the friend that recommended you about you.
A Taste of Your Offering. At this stage, the customer gets their first real taste of what you have to offer. This could be through a free trial, a freebie, free online content, or a situation where they meet a representative of your company for a sample.
Purchase. This is the stage where the customer makes their first purchase of your product or service. This is not just the moment of actually buying the product, but includes every stage of the purchase process along the way.
Use of Product or Service. After purchasing the product or service, your customer will use it, which is a major part of the customer experience. This is where their expectations are fulfilled, disappointed or wowed. This stage includes the quality of the product, its delivery and implementation, and so on.
Post-Purchase. This stage includes all that happens after the initial purchase. At this stage, you may be contacting the customer to provide more content, information or deals, or to request feedback or comments from them.
Repeat Purchases. This is really part of the post-purchase stage, but it's important to focus specifically on each additional purchase in the same way as the first one. Also, this stage includes cross-sells, upsells, down-sells, customer loyalty deals, and so on.
Referral Process. Your company's referral process is an important stage. This is where the customer tells others about you, shares content about you on social media, and so on. It includes things like your communications regarding referrals such as thank-you emails.
Customer Service. At any point where you have customer service processes, you'll need to consider the customer experience carefully. This is not really a stage by itself, but is a thread that runs through various stages from beginning to end.
Another way to think about customer experience is by breaking it down into four categories of experiences:
If this sounds a bit complicated now, don't worry. You're not supposed to understand it yet. We're taking a big picture view and in the next few modules, we'll get more specific.
What you'll do in the next module is map out the customer experience you currently have with your customers.
You'll create a "Customer Experience Map" that includes absolutely everything. In the process, you'll define what's ideal for your business – things like your value proposition, customer persona, branding, corporate culture, etc. – and then identify what areas most impact your customer experience.
You'll determine what's needed and where there are potential breakdown points that you need to be careful of.