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.