Every visit to the iTunes store is an extension of an Apple store experience.  Online updates, tips, and how-to’s as well as new APPs also EXTEND the initial store experience.  We used to think the customer experience ended when they walked out the door with their purchase … not any more.

The EXTEND phase is the fifth and final of the five phases of an experience.  It is perhaps the most overlooked and the most powerful.

EXTEND: The customer’s EXTEND phase is everything that happens post-engagement with the business.  It includes the customer reflecting on their exit, using the product/service, or thinking about what happened in any of the earlier 4 phases. It covers the entire period often referred to as “ownership.”  The customer has moved from buyer to owner and user.

Few businesses can afford to ignore this phase, particularly when consumers can reflect online with review services such as Yelp.  Apple manages this phase in part by keeping their customers close with Genius technical support, additional services and products, emailed updates, and extended warranties.  All of these are positive reminders to keep their customers connected and their initial experiences enriched.

Photo by S. Sheridan

Small local businesses seem to be the ones working hardest to EXTEND their customer’s experiences.  The dog groomer a few blocks away has each pup select a toy as they leave which is an ongoing reminder to the owner of their services.  The local tree service does an annual free walk-around offering suggestions.  The local garden service provides quarterly online newsletters specific to this area’s plants and offering advice.  The local auto dealership that offers new-driver and senior-driver workshops.  Other small businesses send gift cards for gas or coffee months later as a thank you and to refresh the memory of the service.

The EXTEND phase is an opportunity for every business to continue and broaden the initial relationship with their customer.  The customer will reflect on their encounter … why not shape their thinking?

All 5 phases of the customer experience take place in every business.  Unfortunately, what happens in most of these phases is often by accident and not by design.  This 5-E model is a wonderful tool to begin to de-construct the customer’s experience, so you can better understand and enhance it.

Which phase most needs addressing in your business?