Keeping Up with Expectations: Buyer Satisfaction and the Customer Experience
There used to be saying in business that the customer is always right and anything or everything should be done to make the customer happy, even if it includes throwing someone under a bus. On the other hand, some professionals in sales and service would contend that keeping the company mission in mind and fairly representing the company side of things is a better way even if the customer goes away mad. Realistically, both mentalities have some merit, and it is the challenge of finding balance between making customers happy and doing what is right for the business that makes things difficult. What many businesses fail to recognize is that they are no longer directly responsible for setting the customer expectation, so they must understand and adapt to the environment and influences impacting the buyer in order offer a customer experience that satisfies.
A customer experience is not simply what happens after someone buys. The customer experience is composed of the entire life cycle of interactions between the company and the buyer, including any “impressions” the buyer may have experienced through social venues, personal interactions and in media. Creating and managing the customer experience doesn’t mean simply tracking interactions like sales calls and emails, as with a customer relationship management or sales force solution. Crafting a customer experience embodies all aspects of the business – from the outside face shown to the public and market to the internal mechanisms that help get work done, the attitudes of the people involved, and the influences of others.