Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: 3 Essential Stages of Cultivating a Winning Customer Experience

This week we feature an article by Meyer Baron who writes about the essential stages of a winning customer experience. Smart companies promise a positive customer service experience, and they deliver. – Shep Hyken

“Customer experience” means different things to different people. The digital marketer may see the website as the key to producing a great customer experience, while the customer service pro may see training and culture as the keys to customer experience.

Who’s right? They both are, because the reality is that there are three essential stages of customer experience: before, during and after the sale. Cultivating a winning customer experience entails giving all three stages the focus that customers deserve and increasingly demand.

That’s a lesson we learned the hard way at FreightCenter, a third-party logistics company that helps businesses and individuals find the best freight shipping solution for them. After more than 15 years in business, our Better Business Bureau rating fell to an unacceptable level, mostly out of neglect. We acted with the expressed goal of improving our rating to A+. Here’s what we did.

  1. Updated our BBB profile and made sure the Bureau understood our business and how many people we served.
  2. Improved customer service training.
  3. Began the process of consistently responding to every customer grievance.

Six months later we earned that A+ rating. We also started addressing customer experience more fully at every stage of the customer journey.

Before the Sale

People go online because they are looking for something. It is the job of marketing and advertising to make sure they find it. Moreover, when the prospect clicks on an ad or search engine result, that click had better take the prospect to a relevant page. As simple as that may sound, think about how frequently you have had this happen to you.

  1. You search for a product on a search engine.
  2. There is an ad at the top of the page that mentions that product.
  3. You click on the ad and are taken to the company’s homepage instead of the page with that product on it.

How would you rate that customer experience?

Advertising and marketing need to create delightful and relevant customer experiences by aligning the brand’s goals with what its ideal customers seek. Otherwise, there will be no sale.

During the Sale

Once the customer has arrived, what sort of customer experience will differentiate your company from all the others that sell the same things yours does? The answer to this question extends beyond the value proposition and calls for doing each of the following:

  • Create an easy path to purchase.
  • Answer as many customer questions as possible without requiring the customer to contact you.
  • Explain what will happen next.
  • Use technology to make the decision-making process clear and simple.
  • Back up technology with live salespeople.

We developed a proprietary freight quote system, so customers could instantly compare shipping cost quotes from multiple freight carriers. While all our competitors invite customers to request a quote, many of them do not deliver that quote instantaneously, so our quote system elevates our standing to the shipper who is shopping for a solution. We also back our technology with a knowledgeable staff that is available via phone and email to address all customer questions and concerns. The level of direct expertise available to our customers also makes us stand out. Together, the innovative use of technology combined with real subject matter experts creates the ultimate customer experience.

After the Sale

Your customers will expect you to thank them for their purchase and provide some form of tracking technology, so they can see the progress of their order at a glance. They will also expect to receive an email asking them how satisfied they are with the job you did, and maybe a request for a review. But there is a part of the after-sale customer experience that the customer never sees. Call it the preventative customer experience, because it prevents a customer from having a negative experience.

A quality assurance system should review all orders and follow their progress. Such a system heads off ugly customer experiences. Your customer would rather receive a pro-active message from you informing them of a problem than wait for a delivery that never comes to pass. When everything works well, your customer won’t even realize how happy you made them.

Meyer Baron is a Senior Content Writer for FreightCenter, a full-service 3rd Party Logistics company. FreightCenter recently earned a Net Provider Score® of 80, measuring how likely a customer will be to recommend FreightCenter to a friend or colleague, based on customer surveys.

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Read Shep’s latest Forbes Articles: How To Be A Company That Amazon Looks Up To


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