There’s No Such Thing As An Experience

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How easy is it to create an experience that delights others? If you think it is easy, think about it again.

Experience itself is only a word. If you look the word up in a dictionary, it means “something that happens to you that affects how you feel.” Now, you understand the meaning of experience, but does it mean you know how to create great experience? Even if you think you know how to create great experience based on your understanding of the word experience, do you really believe you can do it right? Some people suggest that experience is about the 5 senses, while others say it is about expectation. What exactly is experience all about?!



What if the customer is blind? What if the customer is deaf? What if the customer has no expectation simply because s/he just wants to shut down? Does that mean these customers cannot experience?

Everyone can read the word experience (if the person is not blind) but it does not mean that the person truly understands the word. Nobody can feel or control how others experience the experience, for experience happens in the mind, if not from the heart.

Can you read my mind? Even if you can read my mind, do you know how to manipulate me? Even if you know how to manipulate me, will I allow you to do so? Can you really feel how I feel?

There are at least 3,000 feeling words in the world, such as abused, blissful, cloudy, doubtful… do firms spend time learning how many feeling words there are? Do they understand what action will create the feeling?



If experience is so unpredictable, how do firms offer the right experience through whatever channel at whenever to whoever? There is really no right experience because what customer experiences can vary almost every minute. It is not about whether or not you put yourself in others’ shoes. The problem is, the customer may not even know how s/he may want to react to what is designed for him/her.

It is almost impossible to make everyone happy, and it is naïve to believe that you have the ability to do so. One experience may be positive to one person, but it may be negative for others. For example, in a training room of 20 participants, it is almost impossible for the trainer to ensure that everyone will agree with what s/he shares. However, after vigorous debate, the trainer may be able to reach unanimous consent on the concept being taught, but you cannot argue experience. You simply cannot speak for your customers, because you are not them. Never! Even if you two are twins, each of you will still have different thoughts.

How can firm make the statement that it can create positive experience for the customers? Forget about external customers. It may not even be able to create positive experience for its employees, or internal clients.

It is almost impossible to identify what customers want to experience, because customers are human, and every human is made different.



So… do you still want to talk about experience?

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Daryl

    Long time no read. Great to see you back.

    I assume you didn’t mean the double negative ‘is not no’ = positive ‘is’ message in your title.

    A very thoughtful post. I guess we develop experiences that aim to provide a positive experience from the perception of the average customer. We are not always successful if my recent travel experiences are anything to go by. The more we involve customers in co-creating experiences fit for themselves, the more we are likely to develop positive experienes for them.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-driven Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

  2. Every customer is different, yet focusing on those differences lead you nowhere.

    Understand what is common across your customers and act on that information. There is no average customer, distill what is similar and what is different and group them by similarities and design your offerings for these groups. I am not talking about demographics, demographics are close to useless in helping design offerings.

    Co-creation is overrated and is an abdication of your responsibilities to understand your customers and design on their behalf. Don’t ask them what they want, they don’t know, understand them instead.

    The problems you are talking about have already been solved by the fields of Interaction Design and Ethnography have solved the issues you raise.

    Pierre Roberge
    Customer Experience Manager
    etfs

  3. Hi Graham

    It’s great to hear from you too. CT has changed a lot now, and frankly, the experience is vastly different. However, I guess the new style fits the average readers and authors better.

    Co-creation is a big word indeed, but then we face another question… how do we effectively co-create experience with customers if we care about creating unique experience for each unique customer?

    Daryl Choy
    Make Little Things Count
    wisdomboom.blogspot.com

  4. Hi Pierre

    Thank you for sharing, but I was wondering… are we on the same wavelength?

    Every customer is different, yet focusing on those differences lead you nowhere.

    Sometimes, opportunities exist in these differences, and more importantly, these differences help firms become more innovative. If everything is the same, then there isn’t any need for the 3,000+ feeling words, because there is no need to differentiate and experience is nothing.

    Understand what is common across your customers and act on that information. There is no average customer, distill what is similar and what is different and group them by similarities and design your offerings for these groups. I am not talking about demographics, demographics are close to useless in helping design offerings.

    Simply put, it’s segmentation. The question is, how deep should firms go into segmentation? Segment by market? Segment by demographics? Segment by profits? Segment by individual, or one-to-one as advocated by Peppers and Rogers? However, why do firms need to segment? It’s simply because of the differences that exist among individuals! If demographics are useless, then what is useful?

    Co-creation is overrated and is an abdication of your responsibilities to understand your customers and design on their behalf.

    It really depends on how the firm wants to define “co.” Co is defined as “together, with.” If the firm wants to shift the design responsibility to the customers, then it’s not even “co.” Why should firms design on their behalf? Do they think they know what the customers want? How?

    Don’t ask them what they want, they don’t know, understand them instead.

    If firms don’t ask, how do they understand? And again, how should they understand? During the co-creation process? Or just understand!?

    The problems you are talking about have already been solved by the fields of Interaction Design and Ethnography have solved the issues you raise.

    I’m having doubts about both techniques.

    Daryl Choy
    Make Little Things Count
    wisdomboom.blogspot.com

  5. Pierre

    What does co-creation mean to you?

    On the basis of what evidence do you say that co-creation is over-rated?

    There are many who would disagree with you, includng Hank Chesbrough, Eric von Hippel, Patty Seybold, Alan G Lafley, Alph Bingham, to name just a few well known business leaders. And of course, myself.

    Co-creation doesn’t abdicate responsibility for understanding customers at all, it just recognises that customers know much more than you or I ever will about what they want and how they want it delivered. It would be somewhat myopic to suggest that we can ever know so much about customers that we can’t improve business practices by involving them directly. I have lost count of the number of stupid business processes, unusable user interfaces and convoluted websites that could easily have been remedied at source if only customers had been directly involved. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all companies actually want to improve their business practices. Such companies loose out on the insights that only co-creation can deliver. As Booz & Co research on the Innovation 1000 shows very clearly, involving customes at every step of the innovation process is one of innovation’s critical success factors.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-driven Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

  6. Did Steve Jobs and his team listened to customers telling them they wanted translucent iMacs? No.

    That statement you made : “customers know much more than you or I ever will about what they want and how they want it delivered” is true, they might know what they WANT but what they want might not be what they NEED!

    Customers don’t really know what they need and asking them can lead to, most of the time, poor recommendations. As Alan Cooper said:”merely being the victim of a particular problem doesn’t automatically bestow on one the power to see its solution”. If I have pain in my leg, that does not mean I can tell the doctor what procedure he needs to perform on it. He understands the human body better than I do myself even if it’s my own body I have since birth!!!! He needs to listen to my symptoms yes, but not to listen to the solutions I propose, he should make his own investigation, find the real problem and fix it.

    My view of co-creation is that it is asking the customer to participate in the creation of the solution which they are not good at. And it’s ok, we should be good at that not them. If they know so much, what do they need us for?

    Did customers ask for an iPhone with Cover flow? They could not even envision a cover flow, envisioning is not their job, it is our job. Asking them to help us think about a solution means we don’t know how to do our jobs and we need them. We need them to help us understand the problem but we don’t need them to come up with solutions. Yes they can help us validate the solution and make MINOR adjustements but they will never help us envision whole solutions.

    This reminds me of the tale of 5 visually impaired people touching an elephant. The first says touching the trunk, an elephant is like snake. The second says touching a leg, an elephant is like a tree, …and so on.

    This is the kind of feedback, most of the time, you get by asking people what they want, they have a very limited view of their own problems. If you act on that, you risk the chance of being led astray!

    Regards

    Pierre Roberge

  7. Hi Daryl,

    Segmentations, for design purposes, should be done based on goals. What are the goals of the people? Not the tasks that they are doing but what are they trying to accomplish through these tasks. Customer will tell you about tasks, I do this, I do this…..but they will have a hard expressing their goals. Introspection is hard to do on oneself. An outsider observing, reading between the lines can do a better job at getting to the goals.

    Have you read marketing metaphoria? Zaltman does not ask customers what emotions or what metaphor are you using when drinking coffee. They don’t know. He asks them to bring pictures that represent what he is trying to understand and has them describe the pictures and he infers how they feel about a topic.

    Personas works the same way, by identifying patterns in people that they are not aware of by themselves and designing to accomodate and fulfill their goals.

    I think we suffer from the Customer is always right mentality. We need to please him if we want his/her money but he needs help.

    Pierre Roberge
    Customer Experience Manager
    etfsinc.com

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