person standing in front of waterfall with arms spread
PHOTO: Nick Decorte

Let’s begin with a bit of honesty. Sometimes things (and I’m not saying you do this, but you know someone who does) are presented as overly complicated to rationalize a large budget. Customer experience is complex, no doubt about it. The larger the company, the more departments, the more touchpoints, the more opportunities for failure. The complexity is in the strategy, technology and procedures that feed the customer experience. 

But customer experience (CX) itself is a fairly simple concept. No matter the touchpoint, no matter the customer, when they are doing business with you, they are a part of a customer experience. 

Getting the Big Picture Customer Experience View 

Measuring a single experience isn’t the solution to measuring the customer experience, right? We’ve all seen the smiley and frowny faces in the bathroom that you can push to show your satisfaction or dissatisfaction. We’re constantly given customer satisfaction surveys via email or phone — but all of these situations only tell a small part of the broader experience. 

When you’re on a beach vacation and you're given a survey about your experience right after it rains, what will the results be? Those results are irrelevant to the experience as a whole, which likely included stellar weather during most of the trip, a great view, nice accommodations and meals. Examining the broader data on surveys makes sense. Combining that data with feedback from other touchpoints and extrapolating some data, such as hold times and email response time, to create a bigger picture is vital to CX. But I believe measuring the bigger picture is a more accurate representation of the actual customer experience. 

Related Article: Measure Twice, Act Infinitely – As if Your Customer Experience Depends on It

What 'City Slickers' and Disney Have to Do With Customer Experience

I recently had a birthday where I turned an age that got me thinking about the movie "City Slickers." Billy Crystal starred in the movie, playing a man who goes on a cattle drive with friends to celebrate his 40th birthday. That’s about as immersive an experience as you can get. In the movie, Crystal was hesitant about the experience — he didn't want to change his Mets hat for a cowboy hat and brought his own coffee grinder (which caused a stampede). 

Now Disney is giving Star Wars fans an experience through a new ride. People can opt to just show up or to participate in the scene, perhaps a choice they offer based on feedback from customers like Crystal’s character on City Slickers. 

Although neither of these probably come to mind when you think CX, these two immersive experiences are no different than any other customer experience. Ultimately, it’s what you get out of the experience that matters. As a marketer I spend a lot of time thinking about my customer experience. Yes, I want what everyone else wants — a polite person to speak with, personal attention, an efficient use of my time, and ultimately a resolution to my challenge, whether that be the purchase of a new product, a refund or anything else. 

One phone call will never be the reason I stop being a customer somewhere. But even when a business hits all the so-called metrics during a transaction perfectly, if the bigger picture isn’t a priority, I will simply have a one and done transaction and forget about the place. 

I could break down what is necessary for a successful cattle drive, the extraordinary costs associated with each component and the necessity to intertwine each perfectly, then envision how to word surveys that would find out if the saddle was comfortable enough, and whether the food was delicious and so on and so forth. And while that information would all be important, ultimately what’s truly important is whether or not the person had a memorable experience that they’d recommend to friends. So instead I’ll present three companies that make me feel like I’m part of an experience and that I would recommend to friends. 

Related Article: Stop Using Metrics to Live in the Past

3 Companies Delivering Big Picture CX

Tecovas

I was introduced to the Tecovas boot brand recently through its incredible social strategy. I showed enough interest from a post that they kept retargeting me. I asked for a pair of them for my birthday and while wearing my new boots I went to the company's website to see what else it offered. What it offers is a completely Texas experience that made me want to buy the entire collection. 

Yes, the boots were delivered, they fit me and the quality was as good as advertised. Those metrics I expect every business I buy from to hit. The experience that will keep me coming back is the relationship I felt with the Texas story, the countless customer reviews (not all perfect) which show transparency, and the fact that the company invites you to share your story with them to keep the relationship alive. The truth is, once you buy a good pair of boots they’ll last you for years, so it’s likely to be a long time before most of their customers are returning for a new pair, so they have to be in it for the long haul.

Yeti

Yeti has turned into a pretty sizable brand in the last few years. The company has perfected the art of keeping things cool: from coolers to cups, its products are amazing. Leave a glass of ice water overnight and it’ll still have ice in it the next day. But once again, the product isn’t important — the experience is. 

Unlike Tecovas I’ve never bought a Yeti product from the Yeti website because it has a vast reseller program. The stores that sell Yeti gear tend to lend to the Yeti experience. A Bass Pro Shop or even my local hardware store are exactly the places that already have the experience built in. That’s only part of what made me think of it for this article. On a recent flight, I came across a Yeti-produced docu-mercial about a person who saved people from flood waters in his pickup truck. It was the kind of feel good story that anyone would want to be a part of, just as I want to be a part of the Yeti Experience. 

Crayola

The Crayola brand is as ubiquitous to crayons as Kleenex is to tissue and Coke is to soft drinks. I never put a lot of thought into Crayola because I just buy them for my kids like my parents did for me. But one day I was looking for something to keep my kids quiet on a day off from school. I grabbed some paper off the printer and some crayons and told the kids to color, but they asked me for something more interesting to color than white paper (imaginations today). I Googled something along those lines and low and behold, Crayola had a ton of free coloring activities that you can print out. I explored further and found lesson plans and teaching devices that if I had been compelled to do so, could have entertained us all day long. Crayola knows its not going to be usurped by the competition, but it offers an experience I didn’t even know it had that is clearly memorable. 

Related Article: Sorry, There's No Secret Shortcut for Measuring Customer Experience

Measurement Only Goes So Far

All this isn’t to say you should stop measuring the little things, just don’t forget who you’re working for. At the end of the day what you offer your customers will keep them coming back. They don’t care about your net promoter score or your first response time and they’re likely skewing your customer satisfaction score and your customer effort score so you can’t even get an accurate appraisal of your CX efforts. The only way you'll keep your customers is by inviting them to a great experience.