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The better experience you have, the more money you’ll spend.

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I was just reviewing my notes from last year’s eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington DC, and this statement jumped out at me. “The better experience you have, the more money you spend.” At the time, I suspect that I wrote it down as a mental note as it relates to my own firm’s approach to client service, but I think it also absolutely relates to how our clients run their own organizations.

In thinking about my own spending behavior, I can find dozens of examples where my satisfaction with the actual shopping experience (vs. the product I bought) has been highly correlated with the amount I decided to spend – both online and offline. The best example is an offline example. There is a department store near me that has an incredible selection. They carry some of my favorite brands – Theory, and Kate Spade for example. They are located within 10 minutes of my home. But, I almost never shop there. Why? It’s solely because the fitting rooms haven’t been renovated in 20 years! That means that the crucial moment where women make the buying decision – in the fitting room, trying things on – is unpleasant.  And, because of this, it’s nearly impossible to get into “splurge” buying mode.  Whenever I do buy something from that particular store, in fact, I actually resent it because the experience is so poor.

I recently read an article on TIME about how airlines have shut down their customer service lines. While I can understand the corporate thinking behind those decisions, it’s still short-sighted. The two airlines that still have customer service lines? Southwest and Continental. And those also happen to be the airlines that I fly most often on.

This applies to the online space as well. Companies with the most usable sites and the smartest marketing programs can also boast the highest lifetime value and customer loyalty. Apple is a classic example of this. The challenge is that it is difficult and expensive to create a good customer experience. Organizations are still set up in ways that make it easy to create deep silos that incentivize short term profit. Customer Service silos almost never communicate with Marketing and Product, and even more rarely drive UI design.

An excellent experience depends on an organizational structure wherein everyone collaborates, individual goals are aligned with customer satisfaction, and customer feedback technology is integrated, measured and distributed. Once the customer experience is finally driving the show, then revenue growth and profit will follow.