So much talk about Customer Experience – seems like everyone gets the importance of Customer Experience and many businesses are busy designing, improving, orchestrating experiences that reflect the brand, make an impact on the customer and generate customer loyalty.
What constitutes a Customer Experience? In my experience a ‘customer experience’ is an integrated combination of physical sensations, thoughts and feelings. Again, tapping into my lived experience it occurs to me that the customer experiences that I have access to right now are the ones that have a strong emotion (my emotion) associated with them. Put differently, if an interaction with an organisation left me with a strong feeling – surprise, delight, happiness, disappointment, frustration, anger, boredom..- then I can access it because it stands out in my memory bank. From that I’d argue that feelings are the key lever to work on when it comes to being a master of Customer Experience.
Now walk into the business world – especially the world of big business – and you will encounter a desert: a landscape where feelings are absent. There is no agreement for feelings to be present in this landscape. Where feelings do flower the flowers are sprayed with such criticism that the flowers wither almost instantly. And if the plant/s insist on producing these flowers one too many times then the plants are uprooted and tossed out. The only plants that survive and prosper in this landscape are the ones that delight in their ability not to have feelings. Some of the younger plants do have feelings and start out by keeping them hidden in the darkness where no-one can see them. As these plants get used to playing this game – it becomes second nature – they also lose sight of their feelings. One day these plants wake up and find that no feelings are present and because they have lost their capacity to feel they do not feel anything about not having any feelings. Some of the plants actually take delight in not having any feelings: how great to be totally rational. The paradox of it is a wonder to me: such a strong feeling about being a plant that does not have feelings!
Which brings me to my central question: how are a bunch of people who long ago lost connection to their feelings and gave up expressing and sharing feelings (at least in the workplace) going to orchestrate stuff so as to cultivate strong feelings in customers and the people on the front line who are serving these customers? And how are they going to design products that evoke feelings of wonder, delight, affection and love? Or design processes / introduce technology that creates feelings of being validated, treated as a worthwhile human being, a part of the community, someone that matters….? If you have the answer then please comment and share your perspective.
A final word: or me the beauty of plants occurs in their flowering – the variety of colours, shapes, sizes – what a joy to behold and to experience. What about you?