Businesses go through stages in a customer experience or interaction. These stages are broken down into three major phases starting from the pre-sales encounter, then the point of purchase, and the after-sales or post-sales interaction. If a business places a high value on quality customer service, it religiously follows these stages of encounter with customers.
On the other hand, if a business is focused only on generating profits and increasing revenue, the interaction only ends when the transaction is made or when the purchase is done. To some companies, this may be a practical option, but it does not guarantee stability and success in establishing its name.
The pre-sale interaction is as important as the after-sales service. It is a given that the products and services that a company is selling or promoting are very essential. But attracting potential customers is probably far more important. So, every business must strive to enhance its customer experience.
Elements of a Customer Experience
Customer experience or customer interaction is defined as that stage or point wherein customers are being introduced and engaged into the business. The following elements comprise the customer encounter with the business:
- Expectations setting
- Expectations set by marketing or advertising
- Brand image
- Public relations (PR)
- Word of Mouth
All these are essential in the pre-sale customer experience. These elements promote customer awareness of the business and its products or services and these serve as influential factors in making customers approach the business and make the transaction.
Setting of Expectations
In the aspect of customer experience, the proper setting of expectations is what some companies miss to emphasize when in fact it is a critical phase before the pre-sale encounter happens. Customers should already have a good idea of the business even before they walk in the establishment or even before they call in to inquire. Expectation setting is done mostly through their advertising and marketing programs. It is developed with company reputation or people’s perceptions about the company, brand image, and forms of advertising or marketing.
What happens when a business fails to set proper expectations? Generating a customer experience will hardly occur. A company may find it difficult to scout for potential customers to make the sales of its products or services. Lack of proper expectations in marketing and advertising will obviously not lead the customers to touching the place of business and get involved in the pre-sale interaction as they will have no idea that the business exists.
Factors in the Pre-Sale Customer Interactions
The initial stage of customer experience is the influential factor in the decision phase of the customers in terms of making purchases or subscribing for the service. It involves all the activities that would lead them to conduct a transaction with the business, to the point when customers would say, “I will take it” or “I will buy that” and then make the purchase.
Basically, pre-sale customer interaction is mostly about information gathering, which may include the nature of the company, the kind of service provided, and the products offered. Prior to a purchase, customers normally gather information about the product or the service. Having a good idea of what interests them can be a good deciding factor. They visit company websites, make phone call inquiries, read magazines, or consult friends and other people. Customers like it better if there are various means and options to search for a business.
The location and environment of the business is another factor that customers consider in the pre-purchase stage, although not every consumer is particular with it. There are customers who want to know where the business operation is conducted and what the physical environment looks like.
It is important to consider the ease of access and communication from the customers’ end to the company. Can the company be reached through phone, fax, and email? Is the business location strategic enough and accessible or does it have branches for a larger market? Do employees or representatives show a professional treatment to customers during the pre-sale interaction? All these possible questions should be considered if the goal of the company is to attract as many customers or clients in this early stage of the customer experience.