I had hoped that by now the LinkedIn Group to which I belong would have at least agreed upon a definition of the Customer Experience and be well on the way to finalising one for Customer Experience Management. Well, as you might have guessed, it hasn’t. Albeit not for the want of trying with some great discussions.
I am not sure what it is that is eluding us: I think part of the problem is that the Customer Experience can be viewed in so many ways with so many potential influences.
In my last piece I was swaying toward the following:
“Customer Experience is defined as the customer’s perception of, and emotional response to, their interactions with an organization and its agents.”
Well, as if to exemplify the challenges the group is experiencing I have questioned, yet again, my own thinking. It is the word ‘emotion’ that has caused me to falter. When I think of emotion I think of a strong feeling and I don’t know about you but I do not necessarily have a ‘strong feeling’ when I interact with a brand: in fact I rarely do. Most transactions are accompanied by indifference. I would therefore feel (sic) more comfortable with the word ‘feelings’ which is of course allied to the sense of touch.
The stimuli of an experience (things like quality, customer service, reputation, and advertising) exist externally; and at some point they must all pass through the customer’s perception filters, i.e. senses, before they can be processed as an experience. What is left then is the perception. An emotional response, if it comes, would be part of that final perception; but since there is no certainty that it will come I suggest that ‘emotion’ should be moved to the purpose of CEM as an ideal objective.
So where does that leave me and the definition of ‘customer experience’?
The definition that encapsulates everything most simply for me is that coined by Bruce Temkin of Customer Experience Matters viz:
Customer Experience is defined as the perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization
I cannot add anything to that at the moment so if we can accept that definition (for now at least) let me move on to a definition of Customer Experience Management.
Here is my take:
“Customer Experience Management is the process of identifying, analyzing and managing the factors that impact upon customers’ perceptions of their interactions with an organisation. The objective is to have customers feel sufficiently happy with an organisation that they willingly enter into, and maintain, a relationship with it to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Now I realise that not everyone will agree that “happy” belongs in a statement of a business objective but I firmly believe that any business not focused on making its customers happy will find it hard to maintain sustainability in this ‘age of the customer’.
What do you think? Does Temkin’s definition say enough for you? Would you agree that emotion has a place in business?