Once the customer has decided to buy, they will undertake a purchase transaction and use or consume the product or service.
They might even purchase complementary products or services and use support or maintenance services. At the end of a product’s useful life, they may have a disposal problem to deal with. If they have a problem, they may go through a complaint handling experience.
The purchase and post-purchase experience period can vary from a few minutes to many years. The customer experience may be very simple or very complex.
Whatever the outcome, the customer will reflect on the experience and judge whether it was good, bad or mediocre. Depending on that judgment, they will decide to buy from the vendor again and/or recommend the vendor to others.
The quality of the experience is therefore critical to repeat sales and referrals.
The purchase transaction experience
“This is the one I want and now I wish to pay for it!”
How many times have you wanted to pay for something but you can’t find anyone to take your money or can’t make your way through the paperwork or website steps to pay?
Unfortunately, it happens too often. It is not uncommon in retail establishments to find yourself at the cash desk with no one to serve you and not a staff member in sight.
“Please take my money!”
Maybe you have had an experience where the shop assistants are so busy with their own conversation that they ignore the paying customer. Then there are those situations where you wander from office to office, getting bits of paper signed before completing the transaction.
Clearly the time taken to visit the location of supply will influence the decision to buy. The higher the need, the fewer the alternatives and the greater the price, the more likely I am to make the effort.
Some situations are difficult for the vendor to manage. Variations in volume of 1800 number calls and unexplained peaks in traffic at a bank teller or checkout can create bottlenecks. We expect these to happen and will tolerate some delays because of them, but there is a limit to our patience and we expect the vendor to manage the queue length.
How often have you been in a restaurant, apparently invisible at your table, unable to catch the eye of the staff to bring the bill? Or maybe you have the bill but no one comes to collect it? Those last few frustrating minutes spent trying to pay can spoil a perfectly good dining experience.
Online shopping experiences sometimes have a problem with transaction completion called ‘abandonment’ – that is when people start a transaction but don’t finish. While there are many reasons for this, including not intending to complete, some sales are lost because of the number of steps involved and the complexity of the process.
When it comes to more complex transactions, we expect agreements to be reasonable, not overly lengthy or complicated and not overwhelming in legalise. If I have to question what I am signing and am uncertain what rights I am receiving or giving up, this can delay or negate a purchase.
What we always have to keep in mind as a vendor is that we want the repeat and referral sale. If we make the purchase itself too difficult, stressful, lengthy, complex or problematic, we may achieve the sale but more importantly, lose the next sale. We need to ensure that the payment experience is reasonably easy.
One of the things you should be asking your customers is whether you can make the payment transaction process easier for them.
Tom McKaskill is a successful global serial entrepreneur, educator and author who is a world acknowledged authority on exit strategies and the former Richard Pratt Professor of Entrepreneurship, Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. A series of free eBooks for entrepreneurs and angel and VC investors can be found at his site here.