Experience is an Output, Not an Input

What is 'customer experience?' Is it a thing? Is it designed in a lab? Is it manufactured on a shop floor?  Is it produced in mass quantities?  Does a company or brand create it?

Two nuggets came across my desk recently. One story on NPR was analyzing the changing grocery store industry in the U.S.A. The other was a blog post proclaiming the death of the customer experience. Two completely opposite opinions.

The NPR analyst was reporting on the shift of grocery store customers towards the desire for a greater in-store experience.  As opposed to what?  Better product? Better price?

In claiming the death of the customer experience, the blog author claimed consumers don’t really care about the experience. Their preference is what? Better product? Better price?

Do you get where I’m going with this?

Experience is a result of product, price, billing, shipping, manufacturing, customer service and every other element of your business model. Maybe it's the fact that we talk about creating experiences that messes with our minds to the point where we think they are some tangible item that can be produced.

Customer experience is the output. The result of all of those things above. Experience design requires the examination and design of all of the business model inputs which result in a desired experience outcome.

With everything we do, with everything we interact as consumers, we have experiences.  The experience itself is not designed. Nor can it be created or taken away.

So, can grocery stores do things that will enhance the experience?  Absolutely. Is it exchanged for some other element of the business model? By definition, it's impossible.  Do customers not care about the experience? We can’t avoid it. Experiences are everywhere. In everything we do.

Barry Dalton
Barry Dalton

Barry is a customer experience strategy and technology leader with accomplishments in designing a loyalty strategy, business processes and technology architecture for Fortune 500 and mid-market companies. Barry regularly speaks at industry events and writes about a variety of customer experience topics ranging from quality management best practices to social business and leveraging big data voice of the customer analytics. He blogs at www.barrydalton.com and in July 2013, was named #10 on Huffington Post’s ‘Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Professionals’.

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