Customer experience (CX) is a hot topic in digital circles as well as more traditional marketing conversations today. In spite of such focus, however, most people miss some of the basic principles of CX. You may be one of them.

Here’s a quiz for you: which is more important to the overall marketing effort, CX or conversion – in other words, closing the sale with a customer?

If you said conversion, then you failed the quiz.

Certainly, conversion is important. A business isn’t a business at all unless customers actually buy things from it, after all. And furthermore, any marketer who can’t drive conversions will soon be looking for a new job.

But while conversion is important, CX is even more critical. Done properly, good CX drives ongoing sales with both new and existing customers – both cross-sell and upsell – and also drives overall sentiment and brand awareness, which drive further sales.

Remember, the customer journey extends well past the sales funnel. Yes, marketing must take strangers and turn them into fans, and take fans and turn them into paying customers. But the journey doesn’t end there – it continues on for the lifetime of the customer.

Beyond the Customer Journey

mobiledevicepileEven marketers who understand the significance of the customer journey may still not get the full picture of CX, however – especially as enterprises become software-driven organizations.

To see this full picture, put yourself in the shoes of a consumer – which we all are, of course. Now, consider all the aspects of your relationship with a big company you do business with, for example, your mobile phone provider.

You see its ads on television and other places. You see its logo on your smartphone. You might even peruse opinions about it on review sites. You use its service when you make calls. You get bills from it, perhaps online, perhaps in the mail. You interact with one or more of its mobile apps.

When you have a problem, you can go to its web site, use its chat functionality, send it an email, or call its call center. When it’s time to upgrade, you can shop for new phones on its web site, manage your plan, order your phone, and then activate it when it arrives in the mail.

But your CX doesn’t stop there. You also have a particular opinion of your phone provider, with emotions that go along for the ride. Perhaps you like it, perhaps you don’t. Maybe you hate it but tolerate it, because the alternative is even worse. You chat about your feelings for it with friends, in person or via phone or on social media. Maybe you even post your opinion to Yelp or another such forum.

With me so far? Now, switch your hat back to your digital professional hat, whether you be a marketer, techie, or in some other role. If you’re responsible one way or another for CX, you must take care of each and every one of the items on the list above – from where customers see your logo to how customers interact with your bill.

Now ask yourself: how many of these items involve IT? In fact, most of them do, from email to billing systems to mobile apps to social media. This ubiquity of technology is what it means to be a software-driven organization, after all – and pulling all these threads together to create delightful customer experiences for each and every customer is at the heart of digital transformation.

Many marketers, however, lose sight of this bigger picture. Perhaps their focus is on driving conversion. Others spend their time worrying about their web site and mobile user interfaces. And to an increasing extent, today’s marketers pay the most attention to the exploding quantity of customer data they now have at their disposal.

All of these priorities are important, to be sure – but the lesson here is that CX is all of these rolled up together, and more. CX must be holistic – taking into account all the elements of the big picture, as well as synergistic – focusing on how each of the elements of CX must work together in order to provide the CX that will drive the business to achieve its strategic goals.

The Lesson of Holistic Performance

Put on your consumer hat once again. Let’s say that one of the technology-enabled bits of your CX with your phone provider isn’t performing properly. Maybe your bill has a problem, or a mobile app keeps crashing. The problem could be anywhere.

How does that issue affect your overall experience of the company? The answer: it affects your entire perception and relationship with the firm, at least for the duration of the problem. If you’re angry at the company because one thing sucks, you won’t be happy about anything else it’s doing.

This insight is why it’s so important to understand how CX is holistic. Every piece connects to every other piece, and every element must perform perfectly or the whole suffers. This realization also underscores the importance of holistic digital performance management, for example, from vendors like Dynatrace.

Many people – marketers as well as others – believe digital performance management is nothing but traditional application performance management. The difference, in fact, is the ability to support the performance of the holistic customer experience.

Remember that if any element of the CX isn’t performing properly, then the whole is affected. Marketers in particular are well-advised to learn this lesson. Focusing on the user interface or the sales funnel or any other isolated element of CX to the exclusion of the rest is a losing strategy. Instead, learn the lesson of digital performance management: everything must perform all at once or the entire CX suffers.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, Dynatrace is an Intellyx customer. None of the other organizations mentioned are Intellyx customers. Intellyx retains final editorial control of this article. Image credit: West Midlands Police.