Customer Experience Doesn’t End When the Check Clears

You only wanted my money. 

Once you had it, you didn’t make me feel special anymore. 

I feel a little bit … used. 

Two weeks ago, I praised the customer experience I had with a seasoned contractor named Mike. He managed a wide range of work on my house, which included replacing the siding and the windows. Throughout the process, he was thorough and extraordinarily responsive. 

But then, something happened. 

We paid him. 

Ninety-nine percent of the work was done, so we felt comfortable settling the payment terms with him. There was, however, one small item that he still needed to address. 

We weren’t worried, given that Mike had been highly responsive in the past. 

Unfortunately, his behavior changed. Now that he has our money, he has become much less responsive and attentive to the one last remaining item. It’s a rather minor item, but his lack of attention to our needs has been frustrating. 

To be fair, I would still recommend Mike due to his work overall. I wouldn’t let this one negative experience unduly influence my overall evaluation. But it’s tempting. 

The big point is that customer experience doesn’t end when the check clears. 

In fact, one could argue that it’s how you treat people when you expect nothing in return that matters the most. 

So in addition to the points I raised originally, there’s another cautionary tale, an important reminder, within my experience with Mike. These include:

  • The customer experience includes the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase phases
  • Negative touch points with the customer at any one of these phases will influence the customer’s perception of you and your product or service
  • The post-purchase phase may have an undue influence on the customer’s overall perception 

Because the post-purchase phase happens after the other phases, the customer is susceptible to the recency bias in making an overall judgment. Namely, even though Mike was great during the pre-purchase and purchase phases of the project, having this negative touch point at the end of our relationship may carry relatively more weight in how I think about Mike when one of my neighbors asks about him. It’s my most recent memory, so it’s what’s at the top of my mind. 

Instead of being an excited advocate like I was before, I may be a cautious advocate. 

It’s wise, therefore, for leaders to remember that consistency in the customer experience matters. And even though we all know that the reason we’re doing business is to trade products and services for money, no one likes to feel used—at any phase of the customer journey. 

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About Ben Baran
Ben Baran, Ph.D., is probably one of the few people in the world who is equally comfortable in a university classroom, a corporate boardroom and in full body armor carrying a U.S. government-issued M4 assault rifle. More at www.benbaran.com and www.agilityconsulting.com.