Micah Solomon comments in Forbes:
A customer experience is made up of a dazzlingly vast number of impressions, some of which are under your control and some of which aren’t: what the customers themselves brings to the equation: the idiosyncratic ways that the customers’ sensibilities and prior experiences affect their interpretation of what you offer.
How customers perceive and experience your business – how it feels to them and what it means to them–is never as simple as those of us who design customer experiences would like it to be. For one thing, a customer experience is made up of a dazzlingly vast number of impressions, some of which are under your control and some of which aren’t: impressions delivered via the temperature, the scent, the lighting, the timeliness, demeanor, and tone of voice of the service provider, the cleanliness of your parking lot, and on and on and on.
Complicated though this is, it’s not even the half of the equation of what creates a customer experience. The more-than-half of the equation is what the customers themselves brings to the equation: the idiosyncratic ways that the customers’ sensibilities and prior experiences affect their interpretation of what you offer.
Your business, in other words, is like Proust’s madeleine, and your customers are less-articulate Prousts whose existing, emotionally-laden reference points are activated by your business in ways that extend beyond what a business, no matter how consciously it designs its customer experience, can control.These connections can be positive or negative. A hardware store, even if haphazardly managed and maintained, might have the good fortunate to evoke a customer’s childhood days because his mother, a craftsperson, took him to a similar store years ago on errands. A hospital, although clean, bedecked with plants, and decorated with sunny artwork, will, for some visitors with tragic prior experiences, inevitably evoke death and pain and mortality.
Still, I would never counsel a business to striving to improve the sights, sounds, scents, and other details of the customer experience. My goal in bringing up these issues is something different: To get you to stop thinking so linearly about the customer experience, to stop pretending that 1+1 invariably equals 2 in the mind of the customer. The equations involved are so much more complicated and fluid than that, and those who can solve them are not necessarily single-minded STEM majors. Customers don’t have levers that can be pulled with predictably perfect results. What creates a pleasing result for one customer, on one day, may be a complete mismatch for another customer on another day, or even for the same customer at a different time of the same day, due to a factor as ephemeral as the dimming of light in the late afternoon. And analyzing dimming daylight and its effect on emotions is a realm understood at least as well by the poets and artists as it is by the data-obsessed.