Most people assume that once they’ve got a customer, that’s when customer’s experience starts. But they’re wrong.

The customer experience starts long before the prospect has ever made a purchase, and continues long after the sale has been made.

I’m working on my next book, The Customer Loyalty Loop, and this is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately.

There’s way too much mumbo jumbo out there about the concept of customer experience. An easier way to think about it is this. Start thinking about every part of doing business with your company as an experience FOR the customer, and an experience to be HAD by the customer.

It doesn’t need to be more difficult than that.

For example:

How long does it take before someone answers the phone, or greets the customer when they arrive?

What’s the experience like for a customer calling your customer service line? (more on this in later weeks)

If a person fills out a contact form on your website, how long does it take before someone responds?

What’s the buying experience like for your prospects?

What’s the delivery experience like for your customer?

Apple genuinely understood this and has spent a lot of money on making this an incredible part of the buying experience. Getting the box is the first part of the experience, and opening the box is the second part of the experience. I still get that warm and cozy feeling when I open a new iPhone or a new Macbook.

Surprisingly, so many companies still have really poor packaging.

Do your ads accurately reflect the character of your company?

What little surprises or perks do your best customers receive?

Does your store or website layout reflect your corporate ethos?

Do leads fall through the cracks? If you quote on a job and don’t follow-up, then the experience is broken.

Do you consider presenting a proposal or a quote as part of the customer experience? Too many companies are giving up on easily-earned value by emailing proposals when they could be FedExing them.

What language is used to welcome a first-time visitor, versus a regular customer?

You get the idea…

Now here’s the most important part.

Nearly all of this is about the emotional feelings your experiences create. Remember the old sales adage that “logic makes people think, but their emotions make them act.”

The entire customer experience is about feeling.

How does the customer feel through each stage of the experience?

What can you do to create positive feelings each step of the way?

Your Challenge: Think about this as it applies to your business.

What areas of your business are being neglected and not being treated as part of the whole customer experience?

What can you do to make the experiences better, before, during, and long after the sale?