Multimodal Sensory Integration and the Customer Experience


Share on LinkedIn

Francis Bacon, partially made famous by his quote “knowledge is power,” also once said that “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested.” Bacon made this observation about the primacy of the relationship between literature and the senses in seventeenth century Great Britain.

Today, we know he was onto something: multimodal integration. In the contemporary scientific sense, multimodal sensation refers to how we combine the five senses such as sight, sound, touch, smell, self-motion (the vestibular sense) and taste. Our webinar “See What Your Customers See: Mapping Your Real Customer Experience” actively identifies the role of previous sensory experiences. We call such experiences the “affective residue” of the customer interaction and treat it as an integral part of emotional touch point mapping.

Considered individually, any one of the five senses adds a bold dimension to the customer experience. Combining multiple senses (like the sight and smell of pastries at a bakery), however, breaks new ground with the customer; multisensory interaction refines how the customer differentiates and remembers his or her Customer Experience with your company.

More recently, while developers like Booktrack and Popup Press haven’t started to work on making digital books taste a certain way (unfortunately and ironically for a philosopher named Bacon), they are working on making digital books sound a certain way. The company Booktrack, for example, has synchronized soundtracks to ordinary e-books. As you read, the software transforms the sounds described in the literature into an audial experience.

Synchronized soundtracks to e-books may sound far-fetched, but humans have been working on this type of craft for centuries. Even before the advent of e-books, Kindles, or iPads writers have made use of integrate cross-sensory metaphors to enliven their texts. We can imagine a “loud shirt” or a “bitter wind” without hearing the shirt or tasting the wind.

Rapid advances in technology, while not new to the human experience, are making multimodal experiences a commonplace feature of product design. Think of the whimsical Three-Course-Dinner Gum in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Since your customers bring their past experiences with them, it is critical to focus on how past sensory experiences play into the customer relationship – regardless of whether they morph into giant human blueberries.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here