Putting together a compelling customer experience might seem such an easy take. The unfortunate part is that marketers can make it all go wrong easily. Image Credit: Supplied

In the 'experience economy' we are in, it is everywhere. Whether you are an employee, customer, or social media user, every business is vying for your attention with CX, EX or UX, abbreviations for customer experience, employee experience and user experience.

'Experiential marketing' has been around a while. The proposition is that customers, employees or users want more than the obvious basic product or service being offered; they want a rewarding experience during the entire process. An industry of sorts is evolving around improving such experiences, with the UX segment alone is estimated at over $500 million currently.

More about CX misses

Going by the experience of a majority of online customers, this industry is not really succeeding in improving the user experience for most. From digital banking and mobile pay apps to online grocery and fashion, there is a whole lot of failed stories one can narrate.

Most marketers undoubtedly would benefit from any kind of focus on designing and delivering a good experience. But they seem to frequently overlook a critical element: the enduring value of service experiences. Even if one is selling products, the service element revolving around the point-of-sale, after-sales or maintenance makes the difference. A search in Twitter can throw up the depth and breadth of anguished customers of even reputed brands, seeking the basic service.

Interestingly, only a few service experiences leave a lasting impression on customers, but when they do, the impact may be far more impactful to them than the experience itself. University students may recall the parties and sports occasions, but are also likely to consider the lasting camaraderie, and career networking – occasionally even what they actually learned – as the enduring benefits of that graduation experience.

An investment advisory firm may decide to make the service experience more enjoyable with ambiences. But most clients desire safety, good returns, and risk avoidance, peace of mind regarding their financial security than the physical experience itself.

All about outcomes

Hospitals may strive to make an admission, stay and treatment as painless as possible, but the outcomes of such experiences will more greatly affect patients’ loyalty.

The concept of enduring value seems to have been underrated in most marketing discussions, perhaps because marketing tends to overemphasise the here and now. A marketer tends to look for customer satisfaction with transactions as opposed to a commitment to relationships – one reason for the significant growth of the $75 billion CRM industry. We want to quickly know how satisfied our customers are after or during a service experience in order to respond immediately to dissatisfaction and check patterns as soon as they are detected.

Instant responses come loaded

When customer attitudes are measured during or immediately after a service experience and not at a point at which lasting value would be perceived, customers automatically would discuss only the experience. They have no way of knowing what lasting impact they can have from the service provider. Only by deliberately focussing on lasting impact, measuring awareness and appreciation of that impact, and the extent to which it is attributed to the service provider can marketers gauge how important enduring value might be.

Tweak marketing itself

Businesses that can have a significant impact of enduring value on customers' lives – such as education, training, investment advisory, healthcare, and insurance - must modify their traditional marketing function and perhaps add a few new ones. Researchers must observe customers and find out lasting impact to learn what they like, what they gain, and how much credit they give providers for it. Such information can give insight to the way the company delivers a service and how to modify it to improve the lasting impact.

Marketers should track the effects of campaigns by measuring the levels of awareness, appreciation and attribution in the minds of customers. Nudge customers to gauge the differences in their lives by asking the right questions or helping them calculate the effects in measurable terms.