4 Building Blocks for Improving Customer Service

become customers, and then stay attentive to build lasting relationships. The following are the three crucial, overarching touch points in the customer journey for which companies must create positive experiences:

Attracting New Customers. Before selecting any service or product, customers do their research. It's important for them to see that a business will meet their needs efficiently and be their best option in the marketplace. Product design, as well as marketing and sales channels, are critical factors in this phase of the journey.

Closing a First Purchase. Once the customer is acquired, the business has an opportunity to delight a customer with the new product or service. Operational excellence is essential in the fulfillment and delivery of that initial purchase. First impressions count in creating a long-term customer relationship. Be sure to listen to customer feedback and keep current customers up to date. Keeping customers informed helps develop relationships.

Nurturing the Relationship. There are two goals that a business should keep in mind when nurturing relationships. The first is to understand customers so well that the business can predict when and what their next purchase will be. The second is to create brand advocates through an optimal customer experience. By reviewing purchasing history, studying customer habits, and listening to the customer voice, companies can be proactive in communication efforts, create an excellent customer experience, and cultivate lifelong relationships.

Marriann Cole is the chief strategy officer for The Northridge Group, a management consulting, quality monitoring, and end-to-end customer experience firm.

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