While customer satisfaction and customer experience may sound similar, there is a distinct difference between the two. Although related, customer satisfaction refers to how well a customer’s expectations have been met through the delivery of your product or service. On the other hand, customer experience refers to the entire process or series of events, which unfolds when the customer makes first contact with your company. It can be further understood clearly if we were to say that customer satisfaction captures a specific moment, but the customer experience relates to an entire course of interactions between the customer and the company.
By understanding the entire customer experience process and its phases, you can understand the customer’s experience throughout. Below are the major phases mentioned which will give you insight into this process. This can help you understand whether you are successful in creating just a simple transaction or creating a loop, whereby the customer returns.
The customer experience starts well before a transaction occurs- through expectations. The process has initiated in the customer’s minds. The perception they have set about your business is influenced by messaging, marketing strategies, messaging of competitors, past experience with similar companies, word of mouth and their own imagination.
What you can aim for is to set their expectations as close to what you can deliver and keep them engaged. Inaccuracies may be present in the mind of consumers but as a company, you can mitigate the risk of disappointment by delivering the right message.
Inquiry and Research
The next stage, which comes after a customer has set expectations about your company, is research about you. A customer will want to know about your company and for that, they may browse your website, tap into their network to ask about you, or read online reviews about your product or service.
Every consumer knows how to make an informed decision today. Your goal at this stage can be similar to the previous. Help them learn more about you as accurately as possible and offer ways in which you might be helpful to them and offer to provide what they need by using your business.
Selection and Purchase
The first point of direct contact occurs now; when the customer has decided to use your product or service. Understand exactly what the customer wants and honestly explain the price and terms at which you can deliver.
Delivery and Use
At this point, the customer is using your product and you have to think of how to retain them. This is where most companies think of customer satisfaction but remember that they have already formed half the opinion about you through the previous events. You must try to match or exceed expectation at this stage.
Customer Service and Support
This is the most crucial stage of this process. Offering customer service and support. There is still chance at this stage to recover a lost customer and make a happy one happier by consistent service.
If you are able to do all of these things correctly, you might have been able to create a loop, which means the customer will keep returning to you for subsequent purchases. Do it really well, they will refer other customers to you. Done poorly, the customer is gone.