Customers take longer to find a solution than we think. Companies tend to focus on their initial contact with customers, believing that shoppers' experience with a product or service begins when they walk into a store or visit a Web site. In fact, their journey begins much, much earlier. The easy availability of information on the Internet today allows customers to form opinions from countless sources. Conversations on Facebook, e-mail, and discussion boards steer consumers well before companies have had a chance to pitch their product or service. That means companies must search out customers sooner.