Are you familiar with McKinsey Loyalty Loop? It diagrams—from the company’s perspective—how customers go through the process of buying things. Anything.

Now, we all intuitively know and live this process and the stages that comprise it. It starts with an initial set of brands to consider, followed by an active evaluation of their products and options, that leads to the moment of purchase. Then the post-purchase experience begins until the next purchase decision, or trigger, to buy again—hopefully from the same company—creating a loyalty loop.

The McKinsey Loyalty Loop

However, from the customer’s perspective, the loyalty loop actually looks and feels much different, especially when you consider how long your customers spend in each of these stages.

Customers spend a lot of time in the post-purchase experience

The research and evaluation stage for a considered purchase could be anywhere from a few minutes to a few months. The moment of purchase could be minutes with a few clicks to a couple of hours (for example, in a car dealership).

However, post-purchase and product experiences go on for a very long time. Consider the below examples of the average life expectancy—aka post-purchase experience—for various products:

Life expectancy and support cycles for certain products

Thus from the customer’s perspective, the Loyalty Loop would look like something like this:

Who owns the post-purchase experience?

Notice how lengthy the post-purchase experience becomes.

Now, when you overlay the internal departments that are typically responsible for these segments, you see that the customer care, support, and success teams are responsible for many customer journeys that span over a long product life cycle.

These journeys are the last and most recent experiences they’ll have with a brand before they go into another purchase cycle.

With 25% of customers saying they will defect from a brand after just one bad experience, and four out of five customers reporting that they’ve switched brands because of poor experiences, it’s obvious why companies are (and should be) investing in and prioritizing CX transformations for the post-purchase experience.

Question is: who owns these customer journeys?

Who owns these customer journeys when they traverse channels and touchpoints externally, and internally they traverse the digital team, marketing team, and customer care?

Typically, marketing owns the top of the funnel through to the sale, along with all things digital. In the past, customer care, support, and success have owned the post-purchase experience and interface with customers via voice, email, chat and social channels.

However, according to Harvard Business Review, 81% of all customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before contacting a live representative. Here’s what a typical support journey looks like today:

Examining customer experience gaps in self-service

Based on this data, the lights should be blinking red for Chief Customer Officers to prioritize resources and re-orchestrate these journeys.

Optimizing for search is essential

It’s well known the majority of all searches begin with Google. Brands spend considerable resources to ensure top-ranking results for research of products and features, evaluations and comparisons, and where to buy locally or online.

However, too few brands have optimized their support content for Google.

Firstly, many won’t make content public at all, or will gate their content behind a login or questions like, “what’s your model number?” Often, customers don’t know this information and don’t have it handy.

In addition, as Google begins to serve up more and more video in search results, companies are failing to place authoritative and branded videos. Instead, customers are seeing videos from a competitor or third-party media source that may be using an older or different model that the customer doesn’t have. Sometimes, it’s just a local Joe looking to expand his influence or fame—not the kind of person you want making an impression for your brand.

All of these search experiences are outside the brand’s control and take traffic that a brand should otherwise own or, worse, peel away customers altogether. Further, since these touch points or engagements are happening on other websites, the brand has zero visibility, analytics or insights into these journey steps and what support content is helpful.

Make it easy once they’re on your site

After the customer has several of these false-positive results and failed experiences, they may go directly to the brand’s website. Here, they might find basic FAQs or a section to download PDF manuals, but all they really want is the answer to their question or their information need.

Unfortunately, PDFs are not easily searchable and if the customer is on their mobile phone, they are stuck pinching and zooming while their frustration increases. If they know what the problem is, they may type words, phrases, or questions into the onsite search box. However, most content management systems aren’t designed for support, so customers might be lead to a product detail page, causing even more frustration.

Thus, while the customers are trying to self-serve, the experience they typically run into ends up being high-friction, low-value.

Connect with Customers Start to Finish

Why today’s customer self-service journey requires next-gen knowledge management

Closing the loop and keeping customers coming back

For the past decade, there’s been a hyper focus to improve customer experiences and companies are differentiating and competing on the experiences they are putting out there for their customers.

For example, recently T-Mobile spent millions on their Rainn Wilson campaign telling their customers they would not get the standard, awful IVR experience anymore, but a live agent.

As the T-Mobile ad underscores, the challenge companies face to improve their experiences is an internal one. It requires a company to take a customer-centric approach that is top down and bottom up, focused on delivering great customer experiences across every journey.

Now more than ever, having successful post-purchase experiences is not only vital to building loyalty and recommends but essential to putting customers back on the pathway to purchase.

Additional categories: Customer Experience, Featured Posts