This post has been brewing for a few months, seeded by a bar conversation I had with Scott Liewehr from Digital Clarity Group a few months ago, as it seemed to us that the focus of the discussion around Customer Experience Management (CXM) was currently too skewed toward marketing.

Yet, of course, (and the clue’s in the name)  managing the customer experience requires a more holistic business practice, following the customer from their awareness that your organization can satisfy their need, through to the fulfillment of whatever they came to you for, to the unboxing and usage experience.

It’s these post sales activities that shape the customers perception and deliver whatever marketing or business objectives you have – to create brand advocacy, loyalty, uplift, etc.

But, you knew this already – right?

I’ve also written about this before – describing CXM as how an organization keeps it’s brand promise. Well this week I had an experience that crystalized this need for organizations to focus on this “cradle to grave” customer experience and spread their investment across the whole customer journey that I thought I’d share.

I decided to buy some glasses online, I just wasn’t feeling like the whole ritual of the store experience this time around.

After some research I found that one retailer had an app for my smartphone that allows you to view the glasses on your face, not just crudely placing the glasses on a photograph. Once you have set it up, you can turn your head from side to side to view the glasses on your head from different angles – and even adjust how the glasses sit on your nose and ears.

It’s the coolest thing, my kids loved the app, to the point they wanted it on their devices, my wife thought it was disconcerting to see the digital me moving his head from side to side – such is the realism.

I am also pretty sure that as an online glasses retailer, it ticks a bunch of customer experience business objectives; improve buyers confidence that they’ll like the glasses, disrupt the showroom experience of this very personal purchase and reduce returns from people that find that the glasses didn’t meet their expectations when they were delivered.

Fantastic, high fives all round in the sales and marketing department – and when I did receive the glasses, I have to say that the virtual try on, meant that there were no surprises and I am happy with my purchase.

However – the experience in between; from this amazing app and placing the order to receiving the glasses was not consistent with the expectations this app set.

When I placed the order I received an email with a progress bar that looked like the Dominos progress bar that everyone raves about. I thought this was cool, offering the potential to track when the glasses were in “lab processing” and then being packaged.

Yet.. it was just a graphic in the email. When I linked through to the site the order tracking was the absolute crudest.

An order tracking experience that would be disappointing to anyone with expectations set by Amazon, let alone a promise of something better than that (the Dominos experience) – but all the more disappointing to be exposed to this discount experience, when everything to this point had been so premium.

Plus, as the delivery time was longer than I expected, as I anxiously looked forward to my glasses arriving, I visited this page often. I was therefore more exposed to this customer touch point than any other and it shaped an increasing proportion of my overall perception of his company.

I moved from telling people about this cool app to being unsure  about recommending whether people should actually buy their glasses from this company. Maybe not so many high fives now, mister marketing man?

This isn’t a rant about this particular consumer experience and I’m not saying who the company is. My point is that this is an example of how a total customer experience is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

If you are going to do something really, really cool – make sure it’s who you are, that you can deliver on this brand promise, that you have the customer journey mapped and are equally invested in each step.

The customer experience is more than marketing, more than just a cool app.