"hello my name is" written on a mug covered in mud
PHOTO: Tim Mossholder

“Nine times. Are you sure?” My friend sitting across the restaurant table assured me I'd heard him correctly.

“That’s impressive,” I said. He'd just told me the industrial equipment manufacturer he worked for deliberately sold its main product at a break-even or occasional small loss, yet remained successful because it focussed not on the original sale, but on the customer experience delivered after the sale. By looking after a customer throughout the operating life of the equipment it would make as much as nine times the original purchase price through the sale of spare parts (which had a much better margin) and services. These same customers were also more likely to buy replacement and additional equipment from the same manufacturer. Contract renewal rates were in the over 90% range.

The Forgotten Customer

The adage it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than find a new one has been around for years, yet many companies seem to forget it. Their business models focus solely on obtaining new clients, often at the expense of the existing ones. Have you ever felt forgotten and ignored once you’ve purchased a product or service?

Managing the way you engage with your customers ensures better customer experiences and helps build ongoing relationships. The customer is at the center of every business transaction. Keeping the customer engaged has never been more vital than it is today.

Not too long ago I called to cancel a service with a company we’d used for over 10 years. The response to my request was a simple “OK.” No question as to why or what they could have done better. Yes, they made the experience of canceling easy (which isn’t always the case), but I didn’t feel that my decade-plus loyalty to the company had been at all valued.

And that’s what it comes down to — value — value to the customer and value to the company.

Related Article: Navigating the Challenges of the Post-Sale Customer Journey

A New Customer Experience Model 

The traditional marketing/sales funnel and the associated customer journey maps were linear and ended at the point of acquisition, reinforcing the focus on obtaining new customers. As such, the customer experience was also focused on building awareness and engagement leading to acquisition.

However as we saw from my friend's example, while acquiring a new customer is vital to any business, keeping that customer engaged and feeling valued can drive even more revenue. Are you delivering a consistent, continuous digital experience for your customers as they interact with your brand? Is that experience seamless as they move from mobile device, to desktop website, to ecommerce platform or even a physical interaction? Remember your customer’s digital experience is the sum of the perception of each interaction they have with your brand, and any single below-par interaction can diminish that experience.

This requires an enhanced understanding of the full customer’s journey, one that is an infinite engagement rather than a linear process.

The new model of the customer experience can be viewed from two different perspectives:

  1. The Customer Perspective: A continuous experience where they buy, then own (or use) a product (or service) throughout its lifecycle before repurchasing.
  2. The Enterprise Perspective: A continuous process where it acquires and then serves a customer to lead to a level of engagement where it will acquire additional revenue from that same customer and/or more customers through recommendation.

The infinite engagement approach to the customer journey cannot be addressed by separate experiences at different parts of the process. To be fully effective, it has to provide an exceptional continuous experience, made up of a combination of many different experiences, processes and systems that all have to interact in a seamless way.

Investment in a strong continuous customer experience strategy will result in a customer becoming a brand and product advocate who will recommend the product or brand to others, as well as wishing to continue to build on the existing relationship through additional purchases and interactions. Instead of leaving the sales cycle, the engaged customer loops back into it. Maybe even delivering that nine-times revenue spend to the bottom line. That’s something to think about.

Related Article: Does Your Content Marketing Stop After Purchase?