Many companies approach business backwards.

They think: “We want to make a profit. How can we get customers to buy from us?”

When they should be thinking: “What can we do to WOW our customers?”

To be clear, I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t think about making money.

If they don’t, then they’re not in business.

But customers don’t make buying decisions based on company sales targets.

When was the last time you heard a customer say: “How’s Starbucks doing these days? I really need to pay them a visit and buy a cup of coffee so I can help them stay profitable.”

What drives customer decisions is the customer experience.

Not just the product or service they’re paying for, but the entire experience they go through in dealing with a company.

In fact, the customer experience begins before customers hear about your company.

They will form impressions about what dealing with a company in your field would be like and set expectations of what they will experience dealing with your company.

They will form impressions based on other people’s experiences before they make any contact with you (or if they will ever make contact with you, depending on what they’ve heard about you).

Customer expectations are the foundation of a customer experience.

Whether you miss, meet, or exceed these expectations will define the way your customers see you and if they will continue to do business with you or not.

Unfortunately, many of the backward-thinking companies treat their customers like idiots.

They believe that as long as you can develop the desire within their customers to buy from them, then that is all they need to remain successful and profitable.

But customers are smart, and getting smarter.

They’re setting higher expectations and demanding greater respect from the companies they deal with.

The customer experience is shaped by what customers see, what they think and how they feel about you.

Any negative cue can undermine the relationship between you and your customers.

Consider the following scenario:

Customer: Hello. My internet connection is cutting up every 5 minutes.
Support: Oh my God! You too!? This is like the twentieth call I get today! Man, this sucks! I hate this job!
[Customer hears huffs and puffs of frustration and rage on the line]
Support: There! Check now and it should work fine. Bye!
[Support staff member hangs up. The customer checks and the connection is working perfectly]

In this (slightly exaggerated) scenario the customer’s problem was resolved and in a very timely fashion. But do you think the overall experience is a positive one? Nope.

The next time this customer faces a problem, do you think he’ll look forward to calling customer support again? Certainly not.

Companies need to consider all the factors that make up a customer experience, without focusing on meaningless or misleading metrics that make the company look good while driving customers away.

Your aim should be to design great customer experiences that will get customers to:

1- Buy again and again
2- Tell others about how great you are

There’s a lot to say about creating great customer experiences (that’s why Catalyze exists), but a useful starting point is to think about what makes you repeatedly buy from the same company and what gets you to recommend a company to others?

You can then apply your own experiences and insights to how your company seeks to impress your customers, by treat your customers the way you want to be treated as a customer.