Ever wondered what your customers think when they leave your establishment? Did they like your product or service? Will they come back again? Will they refer you to their friends or colleagues? At that moment, you wish could read minds to understand what attracts and keeps a customer and what doesn’t.
Many factors affect what a customer thinks even before they walk in your door, including what they’ve experienced with similar providers, what they learned about you from advertising, social media or through word-of-mouth. These events create an expectation of what they will experience if or when they finally decide to give your business a try.
Once they take this leap, there are a series of critical touchpoints along the purchase cycle where you have an opportunity to make a customer’s experience positive or negative. For example, if you own a nail salon, here are some of the many touchpoints where you can affect perception. Are customers:
- Greeted when they walk in the door and made to feel like family?
- Accurately told how long the wait is before they can be served and made to feel comfortable while they’re waiting?
- Walking into an atmosphere that helps them relax, including lighting, sounds, smells that alter their mood?
- Made to feel special/pampered when they are getting their service(s) or are they being rushed through the process like a factory production line?
- Seeing an organized store with clean floors, nail tech stations and sanitized instruments?
While you may not think this is that important, these critical incidences along the sales cycle can affect whether a customer is satisfied with their experience and whether or not they return. In her book, Understanding Customers, Ruby Newell-Legner notes that only 4% of dissatisfied customers will actually speak up, and of those, 91% won’t return to a business. This means that 96% of them won’t tell you about their negative experience. This lack of feedback denies you the opportunity to make the necessary changes to avoid losing more customers. She also notes that for each unsolved bad experience, it takes 12 positive ones to make up for it. That’s not only reactive, it sounds like a great deal of work just to save one customer. Additionally, while that customer may not share his or her experience with you, they will probably share it on social media, which in turn sets an expectation for other potential customers. It’s a vicious cycle that can undermine, or even destroy your business.
The best thing you can do is to map your customer’s journey. A good sample of a journey map can be found at This is Service Design Thinking. It allows you to truly see the journey from the customer’s perspective and identifies critical moments where you can make an impact. Think of it as making a deposit in the customer’s bank of goodwill. If you consistently deposit positive impressions at critical touchpoints, you could withdraw the reward of securing a customer for life.