Customer Experience is Part of Your Brand

by Ruth Klein on December 19, 2013

Do you remember the days when you could go into a darling little shop and buy a holiday gift, and the merchant would gladly provide you with amazing and cheery customer service and even wrap it for you? Well, I had a very different experience recently that I wanted to share with you.

I went to a beautiful little shop; they spared no expense to decorate the storefront like a gorgeous Winter Wonderland. I purchased a present for someone and when I asked the manager to gift wrap it, they told me “no” — they could not do it today and that I would have to come back tomorrow. Mind you, it was 7:30 p.m.; they were open until 9:00 p.m., and I saw several employees just standing around….

I used to have a retail store and we were setup to be able to wrap a gift immediately for the customer. We would never in a million years tell a customer that we couldn’t do that.

This situation motivated me to write this article because it prompts me to ask you: What type of customer experience are you providing for your valued patrons? What kind of client experience do you provide? Do you start off strong with a wonderful experience, but the consumer experience falls apart at the end, leaving the shopper wondering: “What happened to me at that store?”

Successful entrepreneurs know the end of the sale is the beginning of the next sale. In this situation, the first part of my customer experience was splendid. However, the end of the transaction completely imploded my experience at that shop. Of course I let them know how I felt, and as you can imagine, they were not too concerned.

Let’s look at the three parts of your customer experience:

1. Before: What is the experience before a customer purchases from you? How does your website look? How does your messaging sound? How does your sales letter look? How do you present yourself when you meet people? If you have products or a brick and mortar store, what type of customer experience do you provide when a potential buyer walks in the door?

2. Middle: Then there’s the middle of the experience. What do you provide for customers once they’ve purchased from you and you now have them as a client? This could be after they’ve signed up for your program or purchased your product.

3. End: The third part of the customer experience is the end, and something not everyone thinks about. Again, this is really the beginning of the next customer experience. In my own business transaction at the aforementioned shop, if the manager had told me they’d be happy to gift wrap my item, that would have been the beginning of my shopping there again and again. While that store’s products are very cute and unique, I can find cute and unique items at many outlets, both brick and mortar and online. The customer experience at the end of my buying trip did not inspire me to shop there again. The uniqueness is actually in the shopping experience… the customer experience is a BIG part of your brand!

I am hoping that this story has awakened you to the three parts of the customer experience and that you walk through your own customer experience, as if you are a potential purchaser or client, and see how it makes you feel…really.

Even more importantly, go ahead and ask a few of your clients for feedback as to what their experience was like at the beginning, during and end of their encounter with your brick and mortar, services or e-commerce site, for those wishing to purchase products and/or services from you.

I share this with you in the hopes that you will always ensure that the end of the sale is the beginning of the next one.

After all, consumers and clients have lots of shopping options in this highly competitive environment, and they can easily choose to spend their money elsewhere. Often, customer service can be as important as the product/service being bought. So if people are actually giving you some of their hard earned money, we can honor them with the kind of appreciation, respect and consideration that they, your valued customers, deserve. During the holidays and every day!

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