Establishing the Customer Experience: A Holistic Definition

Establishing the Customer Experience: A Holistic Definition

Establishing the Customer Experience: A Holistic Definition 2560 1707 Lis Hubert

This is Part 1 in the Establishing the Customer Experience series. Part 2 discusses the elements that make up an experience, and Part 3 touches on what Establishing the Customer Experience means for your business.


The term “Customer Experience” is not new to you. As a leader who strives to bring Human-Centered thinking to your organization, you’ve probably said the phrase a time or two hundred.

But, we’re willing to bet that your definition of Customer Experience is at least slightly different than the definition others in your company or industry use.

Some of those definitions may look at the customer’s experience solely in relation to websites and software applications. Others may define it in terms of metrics and scores. And still others look to customer service language to provide insight.

The ambiguity is bothersome. It not only divides our internal programs and structures, but it also prevents our businesses from reaching true customer-centricity.

To get started establishing the customer experience, then, requires a more holistic definition.

A Holistic Definition of Customer Experience

Here’s the thing. The customer’s experience with your business is not any one of the above definitions. Instead, it’s ALL of these definitions, and more.

A recent post by the XM Institute sums up what we mean. In it they define Customer Experience as follows:

Customer Experience = “The perception customers have of their interactions with an organization.”

Consider this for a moment. A customer’s experience with your company doesn’t stop after they purchase an item, or after they hang up from a support call. Instead, their experience is like a phoenix reborn each time they interact with some portion of your business.

Each interaction, or touchpoint, provides an opportunity for your customer to create a different perception of their relationship with your business. How they determine that perception is based on the TOTAL experience they have.

In short, their perception of these interactions becomes their reality, and this reality is what your business needs to be concerned with.

By thinking of the customer’s experience in this way, your business can interact with each touchpoint more intentionally in order to facilitate a Customer Experience that is beneficial to all parties involved.

Putting the Definition to Use

Now that we have this holistic definition of the Customer’s Experience (i.e. “The perception customers have of their interactions with an organization.”), how do you begin to use it?

You start by understanding the details of how a customer perceives interactions with your business at every touchpoint. From there, you can map that perception over time by mapping every touchpoint throughout the ENTIRE customer journey. Use this to unearth business opportunities.

We’ll share more on establishing the customer experience in upcoming posts by showing you how to define the atomic parts of a customer’s experience, then showing you how to put the definition to use in your business. But, until then, start by using this definition of Customer Experience in your everyday company language.

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Lis Hubert

Lis is an acclaimed design and strategy thought leader, writer, and speaker with extensive expertise in Digital Strategy, Customer Experience, Information Architecture, and Design Thinking.

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