A New Kind of Customer Experience for Museums: Welcome to the Visitor Experience


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Over the past several years art museums have begun to place much more emphasis on a concept they call the “visitor experience.” According to the New York Times, the New Museum in New York City, like several of the museums I’ve mentioned before, is currently mounting a career survey of the Belgian-born artist Carsten Höller. The exhibit puts customer experience, and its propensity to illicit deeper connections, to the test.

For museums this means exploratory behavior that engages visitors at a fundamental level. As our other work has shown, building an experience with the customer directly translates to the bottom line: since museums have started to ride the CE “wave,” they have also made great strides in fundraising.

Carsten Höller compares the visitor’s museum experience to the exposure of film to light “and seeing what image develops.” The museum, then, is merely a facilitator that makes possible the conditions for the film’s development. The words visitors use to describe the museum experience illustrate the literal meaning of Höller’s vision; words like “taste, smell, ingest, feel, touch, fall, float and grow.”

Visitors even have to sign a legal waiver to participate in the museum experience! The visitor’s experience is interactive, and it transcends the mere linear museum experience of the past where you go to a museum and look at a display.

What I call the “New Museum Experience” is not limited to New York City. London’s Tate Modern, to name but one example, is no stranger to the visitor experience either. Inside the Tate, you could have experienced Miroslaw Balka’s Dark Box and Olafur Eliasson’s Fake Sun installations, both of which plunge museum visitors into the opposing experiences that define so much of our life as humans: darkness and light.

The full enveloping experience is now pervasive and touches on all aspects of our modern lives. This means that the set point of customer experience expectations is all encompassing, multimodal and engaging. Most importantly, you must remember that your customer experience is being gauged against this backdrop by your customers.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Qaalfa Dibeehi
Qaalfa Dibeehi is the author of "Achieving Customer Experience Excellence" and "Customer Experience Future Trends and Insights". He has 20+ years experience in the customer experience related space with particular emphasis on organisations that have a dual commercial and social/community responsibility. He is Non-Executive Director at Emerge. Previously, he was Chief Operating and Consulting Officer at Beyond Philosophy and Director at Fulcrum Analytics. He has an MBA from NYU and three other Masters Degrees from City U. of New York in Statistics, Psychology and Health Care Administration.


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