Common mistakes in customer experience management

Creating customer experiences has the main objective of transferring emotional and symbolic value to consumers, so that they can feel involved and perceive brands as being differentiated from other competitors. The business is not easy. There are numerous obstacles to overcome; further, if the process is not properly managed, the errors that result risk compromising the success of the investment and the entire returns on these investments. The three most common mistakes made in the design and management of the consumer experience are as follows.

1) Designing a customer experience that is not consistent with global brand strategies

This is a quite common risk. Indeed, especially in global companies, creating consistent strategies and implementing them are responsibilities of different organizational roles. As a result, a lack of consistency among the full range of strategies and policies emerges. Because customer experience management asks for a central role for customers, the typical managerial processes need to be revised in order to create consistency and alignment throughout the entire customer journey. Such a theoretical principle is typically threatened by the specialization strategy adopted in many companies, according to which managers pursue different goals and measure success differently. Thus, if marketing managers struggle for market share, sales managers focus their effort on sales, customer relationship managers on customer retention rate, and so on in a fragmented framework. If, from the company point of view, specialization is the key desired benefit, from the customer point of view such a strategy only leads to higher levels of confusion. In such a situation, customer experience management is just a managerial fad; i.e., interactions between brands and consumers result in confusion, with lower customer responses and decreased overall returns. In other words, as a fad, consumer experiences are designed without a predefined strategy. Furthermore, the results of this kind of error cannot be measured in the short term or on specific economic or commercial quantities. It is only in the medium to long term that experiential investment proves useless or even harmful.

2) Designing a consumer experience unrelated to the desired brand positioning

If the company “rides” the fashion of experience without evaluating the principles and logic of implementation, it is common to generate a dissonance between the positioning of the brand and the experience of consumption.The resulting confusion risks reducing the returns of brand engagement. Indeed, the desired brand positioning should inspire each and every strategy adopted by a brand, which should be devoted to generating high levels of customer engagement. Such a risk is quite common for those brands where the internal communication processes suffer from a fragile and unstable application. In that situation, typically the desired brand positioning hasn’t entered into the company culture. Building stronger relationships among different departments could help in reinforcing the strategic marketing culture.

3) Designing experiences without including customer emotions

Sometimes, brand managers believe that they are in charge of the customer experience; however, they do not extend this concept to include customer emotions. In this case, they are often misled by the multiplicity and heterogeneity of contributions on the subject, which deal separately with experiential and emotional marketing. In reality, these are two elements of the experience that constitute a whole, especially in the eyes of the consumer. Designing an engaging experience, therefore, means first defining the emotions that the consumer wants to experience, obviously in line with his/her profile and with the positioning of the brand. Towards that end, brand managers need to interpret the processes that drive customers in order to understand the individual concerns that drive customers’ affective processes.

Moreover, for decades, consumer emotions have been forgotten. The growing attention to emotions was initially interpreted as a niche phenomenon, isolated and limited to a wide range of industries that are by definition highly entertaining (sport, culture, etc.). In particular, managers who struggled most to recognize the role played by emotions in their relationship with customers were those operating in the B2B sector, convinced that in their purchasing processes, the technical knowledge and possibly effective discount policies were the only ones of value.The experience of excellent cases, on the other hand, has taught us how businesses, even those far from the world of emotions and experience, can still produce engaging experiences.

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