Some com­pa­nies seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to deter­min­ing what their cus­tomers are think­ing and feel­ing, and then opti­miz­ing the expe­ri­ence accord­ingly. Ama­zon, Apple, and Toy­ota were among the lead­ers in the Temkin Group’s 2013 Expe­ri­ence Rat­ings. South­west Air­lines, Mar­riott, and Amer­i­can Express have also earned high marks in cater­ing to cus­tomers’ needs and emo­tions. Unfor­tu­nately, not all com­pa­nies are so well-attuned to their audiences.

If you’ve invested resources in cre­at­ing a cus­tomer expe­ri­ence strat­egy but haven’t seen the results you were hop­ing for, it may be time to step back, reassess, and deter­mine whether you’re mak­ing any of these crit­i­cal mistakes.

  1. Not pay­ing atten­tion to the data. It’s impos­si­ble to deliver a rel­e­vant, per­son­al­ized cus­tomer expe­ri­ence if you’re not con­sis­tently eval­u­at­ing per­for­mance. Using tools like Adobe Tar­get, you can mon­i­tor real-time data to deter­mine where cus­tomers are get­ting stuck dur­ing check­out, what pages have the high­est bounce rates or longest vis­its, the rel­e­vance and thor­ough­ness of search results, and more. This key infor­ma­tion will give you the power to bet­ter opti­mize the cus­tomer experience.
  2. Treat­ing all cus­tomers the same. In our diverse and com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, one size does not fit all. Today’s cus­tomers expect a highly rel­e­vant and engag­ing expe­ri­ence. Max­i­mize your results by iden­ti­fy­ing dis­tinct cus­tomer seg­ments, get­ting to know them, and then tai­lor­ing expe­ri­ences to match their pref­er­ences and behav­iors. A tool like Adobe Tar­get makes it easy to pro­vide a per­son­al­ized media expe­ri­ence through auto­mated targeting.
  3. Assum­ing a quiet cus­tomer is a happy cus­tomer. Accord­ing to Lee Resources, for every cus­tomer com­plaint, there are 26 unhappy cus­tomers who have remained silent. Look to the data to gauge the effec­tive­ness of the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. If a cus­tomer is com­ing back to your site or store, mak­ing repeat pur­chases, and/or inter­act­ing with your con­tent, you’re doing some­thing right. If not, some aspect of the expe­ri­ence has left your cus­tomer cold. Con­sider test­ing out var­i­ous sur­veys to elicit hon­est, valu­able feedback.
  4. Neglect­ing exist­ing cus­tomers. Many com­pa­nies make the mis­take of spend­ing too much time and resources try­ing to attract new prospects, while neglect­ing peo­ple who have pre­vi­ously pur­chased. Accord­ing to Mar­ket­ing Met­rics, there’s a 60 to 70 per­cent prob­a­bil­ity of sell­ing to an exist­ing buyer, and only a 5 to 20 per­cent chance of con­vert­ing a new one. Return­ing cus­tomers rep­re­sent a key seg­ment; for max­i­mum results, focus on pro­vid­ing them with a highly per­son­al­ized experience.
  5. Over­look­ing the social com­po­nent. Your cus­tomers should be your biggest cheer­lead­ers. If you’re not giv­ing them an easy way to spread the word and evan­ge­lize your brand, you’re miss­ing out on a highly effec­tive way to estab­lish cred­i­bil­ity and attract qual­ity leads. Every piece of mar­ket­ing collateral—from your web­site to email newslet­ters to direct mail pieces—should invite cus­tomers to share their expe­ri­ences with peo­ple in their network.
  6. Not reach­ing out. Gath­er­ing cus­tomer infor­ma­tion won’t pro­vide any ben­e­fit if you don’t put it to use. Once you’ve col­lected enough data about your vis­i­tors, craft a solid com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy. Care­fully con­sider what con­tent will be most rel­e­vant, and be sure to per­son­al­ize each mes­sage to match your cus­tomers’ pref­er­ences and pur­chas­ing behav­iors. Per­son­al­ized emails have been shown to have higher click­through rates than gen­eral messages.
  7. Try­ing to be a car­bon copy. There’s noth­ing wrong with draw­ing ideas and inspi­ra­tion from com­peti­tors, but imi­tat­ing them too closely can make you seem inau­then­tic. When a cus­tomer vis­its your site or store, they’re not expect­ing to have the same expe­ri­ence your com­peti­tor is offering—they’re look­ing for what makes your busi­ness unique. Any­thing you add to that experience—whether it’s a new logo, color scheme, or check­out sequence—must be aligned with what cus­tomers have come to expect from you, and should sup­port your over­all brand/identity.

You can have the best prod­uct or ser­vice on the mar­ket, but if there’s a snag some­where in your cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, your tar­get buyer is sure to get stuck. Avoid these costly mis­takes and enjoy the ben­e­fits of happy cus­tomers who flow seam­lessly from ini­tial con­tact to final sale, and beyond.


In the new world of big data we are all looking for that way to aggregate our customers so we canserve them better. But sometimes we forget that on th eroad to efficiency every single person we meet is still every single person and our company performance is made out of all these individual interactions.

Gina, thank you. This is a great article. Makes the point in a very effective way without making me feel beat up.  :-)