Running the Marathon: How to Understand and Leverage Customer Experience to Increase Sales

by Melisssa Rein

posted on 08-24-2016

If you are like most CMOs, you periodically find yourself up to your ears in sales data, trying to find some way to meet this quarter’s sales goals. All brands want to increase their sales. It’s easy to get caught up in digging through your numbers and metrics reports to find ways to increase your revenue and profits year over year.

Your metrics reports likely focus on things that are directly tied to sales. How much does the average customer spend per transaction? What is the cost of acquiring a new customer? How much of your product is returned? These are all important things to know, but if cash transactions are all you’re focusing on, you’re likely missing a key part of the picture — a deep understanding of your customer’s experiential journey from first awareness to recurring, delighted customer status.

The marketing department, as well as other departments within a business, are often siloed. Each has its own perspective regarding the customer’s psychology and what he or she may respond to, because each department sees the customer at a different point in that customer’s journey. Further complicating the matter, teammates often have different customer metrics they are each working to improve to meet their end-of-quarter metrics. In a perfect world, marketers, creative teams, sales teams, and optimizers would all achieve their individual quarterly metrics, resulting in higher revenues. However, in reality, this has great potential to create fragmented customer experiences.

While these fragmented experiences may create short-term increases in revenue, they sacrifice long-term revenue growth because they lack unified customer experiences. Clearly, this is a balancing act, but if you’re playing the long-term revenue-growth game — you want to win the marathon not just complete the sprint. Deeply understanding your customers as well as their journeys to purchase your products — and then delivering personalized experiences to them — are the keys to winning long-term, sustained revenue growth.

Short-Term, Single Transactions Vs. Long-Term, Experiential Business Metrics
If your business is focused on individual transactions, you may not even realize it. Sure, it’s important that you understand transactional metrics like “Add to Cart” or your cart abandonment rate. Every business should understand how it’s doing with regard to sales transactions. However, even if every single metric that you track has a direct line to revenue, you’re still missing a key piece of the puzzle.

Without understanding your customers’ experiences, you lose out on understanding how to truly create customer experiences they are happy with. Your customers are now able to be completely connected to your brand — but that doesn’t mean that they are. Without delivering truly personalized experiences — those that map to their individual customer journeys and serve their needs precisely — you are not only missing out on increasing their purchases, but also their loyalties to your brand. If you don’t understand their experiences or their levels of engagement with your brand, it is tough to understand whether they are satisfied or brand-loyal.

Why You Should Aim for Experiential
When optimizing your customers’ experiences with your brand, your focus on positive experiences is likely to directly impact customer satisfaction and increase brand loyalty. Creating highly personalized customer experiences through messaging and advertising can even lead to increased sales. In fact, when a major telecom company made an effort to personalize its messaging by creating increasingly targeted customer segments, it saw a 12 percent lift in revenue from existing customers.

That’s because customers who regularly use your services or rebuy your products are gaining a far more satisfying experience than those who aren’t. The mobile app or website is meeting needs they have, which is why they return regularly. The same can be said for your blog or social channels — customers who are having positive experiences with any of these types of channels are more likely to trust your brand. As a result, they’re more likely to convert in the future, convert more regularly, and refer their friends to your brand. Put simply, personalized experiences — those tailored to the customer’s journey — ultimately build delight and trust; and in turn, delight and trust increase loyalty and referrals. These types of behaviors cannot be won through purely singular transactions.

Deeply Understanding Your Customers and Creating Memorable Experiences
You might be wondering how to understand your customer on a deeper level and create the team-aligning, customer-journey map that will produce an ideal customer experience, ultimately converting your customer to a long-term, delighted, brand-loyal consumer. The strategy is simple.

Invest in understanding your customer better by gathering both qualitative and quantitative data to create a customer-journey map. Usability studies, customer interviews, ethnographies, website FAQs/search logs, customer surveys, customer support/complaint logs, web analytics, social-media listening, competitive intelligence analyses, and A/B and multivariate testing are all great ways to construct and validate a deeper understanding of your customer.

The next key step is to align your teams to the customer-journey strategy outlined in the map by matching some of their quarterly metrics to the same target — a unified customer experience that focuses on a long-term, experiential customer journey and includes transactional experiences along the way. Welcome to the marathon.

Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, no one wants to feel like just another number on a metrics report. Creating personalized experiences that meet — or even exceed — your customers’ expectations regarding their ideal journeys allows your customers to feel confident that your business is precisely the company they should endow with their brand loyalty and repeat business. It helps your customers trust you as a brand and feel that you truly understand their needs, resulting in a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship. Putting your focus on creating the experience rather than the transaction is always a winning bet.

Topics: Content Management