Customer Engagement Phase Is Completely Neglected

Companies work very hard to get new customers. And, many firms are even improving their customer service. But there’s a critical phase in the customer lifeycle that very often gets missed. It’s a phase of the customer experience that I call the Engagement Phase:

I define the Engagement Phase as:

The period where customers initially realize their expected value from a purchase

The Engagement Phase starts right after a customer has made a decision to purchase something from you. It begins with the point of sale (PoS) and ends with what I call the point of value (PoV). I define the PoV as:

The point at which customers get the value they were expecting from their purchase and are satisfied with their decision

Too many companies focus on the on the PoS as the key milestone, doing everything they can to close a sale. This is a flawed mindset. Instead of just trying to get money from customers, companies need to focus on getting customers satisfied with their purchase.

There are Engagement Phases in every industry. Here are some examples:

  • Credit cards: Between getting approved for a credit card and regularly using it
  • Electronics retailers: Between purchase of TV and using as hoped in the home
  • Software companies: Between purchasing software and installing it and using it as desired
  • Banks: Signing up for bill pay and starting to regularly use it

There are a lot of issues that keep customers from getting the value they expected from a purchase they made. When these issues occur, customers will often have buyers remorse and think poorly of the company that they just spent money with. In these cases, sales can lead to negative loyalty.

There’s room for all companies to improve their Engagement Phases. So don’t just invest in the sale, focus on getting your customers to their PoV after the sale.

The bottom line: How many of your customers reach their PoV?

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

6 Responses to Customer Engagement Phase Is Completely Neglected

  1. Andrew Hull says:

    Bruce- I couldn’t agree with you more. This past weekend I was booking a personal trip via Travelocity for my family and a friend who is traveling with us. It was a complicated set of transactions as one ticket was 1-way, 4 were round trip and 1 was via my earned air miles. Whew!

    Unfortunately, I booked the outbound and end destination in reverse order. I dreaded the situation I was about ready to experience while tracking down the phone number on Travelocity’s site.

    In the old world, they would just have worried about the POS. I would have experienced an unending series of rebooking fees and vowing to never book via Travelocity again (even though the situation was my fault).

    Since I called so quickly, they were more than happy to quickly cancel the bookings before it hit my credit card and let me know that the best way to avoid any other fees would be to go back online and “carefully rebook.”

    This is a great example of an agent doing the right thing (and having the power to do it) and focusing on the overall experience, not just the POS.
    The experience left me a happy Travelocity customer!

  2. Pingback: Article: Customer Exgagement Phase is Completely Neglected « OPTing In – The OnProcess Technology® Blog

  3. Bruce–

    After many larger BtoB service sales, the conversion or implementation process that takes place before “going live” with service delivery can take months. One common error I see by companies is to have a dedicated conversion team that interacts with the client, collects client requirements, and experiences most of the early communications with client staff. At the end of the implementation, the dedicated conversion team leaves and turns the client over to the ongoing service organization.

    So much critical relationship information and experience is gained during this period that is subsequently lost. Even worse, the “connection” between ongoing service staff and the client never really gets going until much later.

    Like you, I believe that the conversion or implementation process is one of the most critical stages of the relationship….like wet cement that is ready to dry in whatever shape you leave it at that point. If you leave to be shaped later, it is much harder to do so.

    Christopher Myers

  4. Great point, and I think many companies can learn from social networks and web 2.0 set ups.

    When someone joins Facebook or sets up an account at Flickr they are prompted with a page that describes the steps they can take to get started. A page that says that the new member should connect to their friends, or a page that states how to create content in a simple way.

    Imagine applying this thinking to the first use of a credit card and have an experience integrated on how to best use a credit card in a sustainable way.

    Or a customer who buys a TV and when turning it on is prompted with a easy to understand “how to” video and how to best customize it’s viewing for the customers type of setting.

  5. Pingback: adaptive path » blog » Adaptive Path » Signposts for the week ending July 2, 2010

  6. Pingback: adaptive path » blog » Adaptive Path » Signposts for the week ending July 9, 2010

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