Sunday, April 08, 2007

Defining "customer experience", part 1

A few days ago I chatted with Susan Abbott of Customer Experience Crossroads for my first podcast, which is now on iTunes. We compared notes on our definition of the term "customer experience." A buzzword in the business community in recent years has been "customer experience management," or CEM, which has come to mean managing call centers and Web sites efficiently. Both Susan and I define the customer experience far more broadly than that. Here is her take on it.

Susan said something that struck me, how good experiences are about "removing irritants." You look at your site, or your product, or your service, figure out all the ways that you might be providing irritants for your customers, and then systematically remove them. This approach is similar to one discussed by Tom Kelley of IDEO in his book, The Art of Innovation.

I think of the customer experience as having two dimensions; inside and outside.

• Inside. First, the experience happens in your customers’ perceptions. It’s seen from their point of view, created by a combination of their feelings, sensations, and prior experiences. Unfortunately, what you intend doesn’t always matter. All that counts is what’s happening inside a customer on the day he or she is at your site. You can’t control this inside dimension. No two customers will ever have the same experience, since everyone has a unique point of view.

• Outside. Second, an experience is made up of many separate pieces outside the customer. That’s your part. The outside dimension begins the instant a person decides to visit, continues throughout his or her time with you, and ends when he or she leaves. You control nearly every aspect of this outside dimension.

I'll be contacting some other customer experience bloggers to see if they want to share their definitions with me. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your comments as well.

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1 comment:

  1. SusanA2:47 PM

    I love the simplicity of "inside" and "outside". I have a very similar point of view.
    Posted here: http://arc.typepad.com/customercrossroads/2007/04/defining_custom.html

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