Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Defining "customer experience," part 3

Today's response to my previous posts, part 1 and part 2, comes from Sara Cantor, of The Curious Shopper, one of my favorite blogs.

"I read your post and I think the inside-outside framework is very interesting. Surely most companies focus on the outside, and assume that this will have a direct impact on the inside. I think it's smart to separate them, to remind companies that they can't always control the inside, but that they can at least study the relationship between the two.

My take on customer experience is related to a principle of all experiences: their impact depends on two points, the peak and the end. I believe this theory was first shared in The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore (one of my favorite books). An experience always has a peak, be it positive or negative, and it obviously has an end. It's the biggest drop on the roller coaster, and how you felt when you walked off the ride.

In retail, an experience will be defined in the mind of the shopper by these two points as well. The peak is either the high point, when you try it on and it looks great, or the low point, when you discover they don't have your size. The end is when you are given a nice "Thank you" as you leave, or when you walk out without a receipt because the salesperson was taking too long. Retailers should focus on designing both a positive peak and a positive end. And hey, the peak might not be totally in their control, but the end almost certainly is. Perhaps stores could start by defining some "ideal peaks" and some "ideal ends," as well as listing the negative peaks and ends that they'd like to avoid."

And, check out this great post on good experiences by Pamela Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation. You can listen to my podcast interview of Susan Abbott for a more thorough discussion of this topic.

What do you think? Post your comment by clicking "comments" below.

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1 comment:

  1. I think it's critical to examine and come to grips with the yawning gap between on the one hand, creating good experiences as a core attribute of your service and product offering (e.g., Washington Mutual) and on the other hand, seeing experience itself as a core business offering (e.g., Rainforest Cafe.) I've blogged more on this at Chief Whatever Officer.

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