Here we go again – customer is boss. It’s been said and written since the dawn of business and sales. Everyone knows it and more or less everyone acknowledges it…at least theoretically. Yet in real life it’s mind-blowing how many times you can run into customer unfriendly – or dare I say even hostile – scenarios.

Here comes one out of a million examples dated May 2016. Just the other day I went into a department store with the ambition of buying some paint. Approaching the phone talking “paint-guy” behind the counter at the empty paint department, I could instantly tell from his body language that he was a busy guy. Extraordinarily busy. He gave me an indifferent 2-second glance and without saying a word (or even using any kind of sign language) he let me know that whoever I was and whatever I wanted, he had something far more important to take care of. He swiftly turned 180 degrees, sat down and pressed the phone tight against his ear. He sat there in total silence. Was he even talking to anyone? Although I had experienced similar customer unfriendly scenarios multiple times before, I stood there, totally perplexed, once again. How can these sorts of events occur over and over again in the so-called enlightened business world of today?

To make a long story a bit shorter, I eventually left the store with no paint and with an absolute dreadful customer experience. The paint-guy flunked big time. Below, is a list he ought to have nailed to the wall the next time he’s facing a potential customer. A list of the customer experience lifecycle, whether you’re in digital or physical channels or in household- or wholesale businesses.

  1. Customer experience starts with awareness. Everything the potential customer captures from the second they know about your existence counts. Don’t forget that positive awareness often comes from relevant proactive communication and advise, not hardcore traditional marketing and sales. In our example above the department store must have done something right, because I entered.
  1. Then comes nurturing. Make the customers feel like royalty, listen to the customer and subsequently explain why this particular product or service is the best value for money given their specific needs, given that you indeed have the best solution available. If not you’re better off recommending the customer to go elsewhere. Here the paint-guy failed big time and it made me exit the store.
  1. Create desire. Provide the customer with the wow-factor. It’s complex and often time-consuming to inspire people, but inspired people buy goods and services with a smile on their face.
  1. The purchase. So the customer acquisition phase is finalized, but it sure doesn’t mean that the customer experience phase is. Immediately after, the customer development phase starts.
  1. Don’t just leave customers on their own after selling them something – give them proactive support. Was the product really what you expected? Do you need help with anything? What can we improve?
  1. Create loyalty. Your proactive support will eventually create devotion and passion for the stuff you’re selling. Customers will start vouching for your brand.
  1. Finally comes advocacy. The deep customer relationship. The real deal. You’re playing in the same team as your customer. You have an encouraging and inspiring relationship together. This is the Nirvana of customer experience.

Think about it for a while. A majority of people reading this is already conscious of what’s described above. Yet again, numerous of businesses are struggling to pass bullet 1, 2 and 3 on daily basis. As long as the business world looks this way, there are millions of opportunities starting a business purely based on the principles of great customer experience lifecycle. The rest will follow. Disruptive or not.