Franz Liszt and the Customer Experience of Classical Music


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Customer experience as a business concept may be relatively new, but customer experience has been around for as long as there have been economic exchanges. Franz Liszt, the famed composer and pianist, revolutionized his performance by applying now-well-known customer experience principles.

Liszt’s performances were captivating during period where conventional wisdom dictated that a solo pianist could barely hold anyone’s attention. When Liszt set out across Europe in 1839, he proved conventional wisdom wrong.

Liszt thought from the customer’s perspective, as opposed to the performer’s perspective. Customer experience entails a high level of interaction between the provider and the customer. With this in mind, Liszt turned the piano so that the audience could see his face (and his shoulder-length hair flapping), and he memorized pieces so he could play the piano in a dramatic, theatrical way. At the time, memorizing sheet music was considered “arrogant,” as was walking from the wings of the stage to take one’s seat at the piano.

Liszt brought the same attitude to conducting as he transformed the role of conductor from someone who merely beat the time, to someone who shaped music and played the orchestra as an instrument. As a pianist and conductor, Franz Liszt emotionally engaged with his audience.

Franz Liszt’s impact on classical music performance has interesting parallels with Walt Disney’s impact on the modern-day amusement park. Today, we take it for granted that roller coasters are a part of “amusement parks” or “theme parks” in contrast to local fairs that feature entertaining rides. Disney World ensures that every adventure, Disney character, employee, shop and even long lines systematically manages a positive sensory and emotional customer experience.

Of course, both Liszt and Disney had the prerequisite skills (playing piano and designing rides), however, it is debatable whether either would be famous were it not for the emotional experience they continue to provide for others through their legacies.

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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