Years ago, when I had just launched my speaking career, a friend shared the concept of the sold (and thereafter abused) customer with me. Now, the word abused may be a bit strong, but his point was well taken. For many customers, the pre-purchase experience is vastly superior to the post-purchase experience.

My belief is that customer service starts the moment the customer even thinks about doing business with you. Customer service isn’t just what happens after the sale, it’s also what happens leading up to the sale. And once it starts, it should continue through the entire life of your relationship with the customer.

Recently I had the pleasure of experiencing sales expert Joey Coleman present a speech on the “first 100 days.” This refers to the first 100 days after a customer pays for whatever you sell. The period of time between when the customer decides to buy from you and when he receives your product or service is when he is most likely to question his purchase. During this period, the customer may come to feel abused or neglected.

For example, you may have bought something on a website which took take several days or longer to arrive. Or you may have signed a contract to build a home but been forced to wait months before construction began. Coleman posits that your best opportunity for customer loyalty comes during these first 100 days. Of course, you need to manage the long-term experience, but this initial period is crucial.

The idea of the first 100 days is to create as many touch points as possible, which will enhance the experience for your customer. This is known as proactive customer service and it is the best recipe for customer loyalty.

So take your already-great customer service up a level by adding intentional customer interactions which will confirm in your customer’s mind that she has made the right decision to do business with you.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Did you abandon your client?

Don’t hand me off

10 simple ways to lose a customer (and cash)

Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and best-selling author. For more information on Shep’s speaking presentations, call 314-692-2200, email shep@hyken.com or go to www.hyken.com.