Is your customer experience a Victorian penny dreadful or the greatest story ever told?

21 Nov

I remember reading a great paper from a few years ago in the Journal of Service Research, called “Service Design for Experience Centric Services” that talks about the

English: A Penny Dreadful featuring Dick Turpin

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

similarities between customer experience and plays, novels and films. The main point being to think about and design customer experience as ‘theatre’, and consider the dramatic flow and progression (the start, middle and end) of the customer journey as interactions occur.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about disciplines like customer journey mapping; the paper says we typically tend to remember the high and low points, and the ending, how you feel at the interaction’s conclusion. I would emphasise the word, ‘feel’ here, because it is our emotional response to customer experiences that will stay long with us after the mechanics – the nuts and bolts – of an interaction are long forgotten.

The sad fact is that doing business with companies can often feel like you’re the victim in a lurid Victorian penny-dreadful novel, a sorry tale of seduction, then abandonment. In the relentless hunt for new customers, existing ones tend to be forgotten. After the pursuit and wooing, the honeymoon is over all too soon, and then neglect can set in and current customers can too easily feel forgotten, and, worst of all, not recognised.

All this serves to illustrate the importance of thinking holistically about the total customer experience, and recognising that the experience is cumulative; it builds and builds over time.

So, consider how you orchestrate the dramatic flow of the experience, and how each interaction should add to the customer’s overall perception, and narrative; after all, better for the customer to be starring in the greatest (customer experience) story ever told, than the victim in a penny dreadful.

For a link to the journal, or to buy the paper, click here


2 Responses to “Is your customer experience a Victorian penny dreadful or the greatest story ever told?”

  1. ijgolding November 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Reblogged this on ijgolding and commented:
    Great blog post Rod – I often use the analogy of your ‘favourite film’ to describe the customer journey – you only tend to remember the best bits – the WOW moments – the rest of the film is absolutely necessary or you would not have the WOW moments at all. What are the WOW moments in your customer journey? What will they remember? Or is your customer journey like watching a very dull documentary on something that does not interest you!!

  2. Doug Della Pietra November 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Reblogged this on Optimizing Healing Healthcare and commented:
    Rod Butcher’s blog “Is your Customer Experience a Victorian penny dreadful or the greatest story ever told” uses a very creative metaphor to describe what it might be like for customers as they interact with companies.

    I particularly enjoy the simplicity of the metaphor and Butcher’s implied definition of customer experience as the total accumulation of all experiences that the customer has with a company that “builds and builds over time.”

    Butcher’s description of the customer experience makes me think of the definition of patient experience from The Beryl Institute: “The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions, across the continuum of care.”

    Too often, companies — and I will shine the light on hospitals and healthcare organizations — still operate as if the customer (patient) experience is a series of isolated episodes and interactions instead of a carefully orchestrated and interwoven tale and story. Butcher invites the reader to be intentional and purposeful — to consider “how each interaction SHOULD add to the customer’s (patient’s) overall perception, and narrative.”

    In the end, optimizing healing healthcare is a purposeful, integrated, and macro approach that “writes” an exceptional and healing experience in which the patient FEELS like (and is) the “star” — not a “victim.” And, when this occurs, both author (the healthcare organization) and protagonist (patient) applaud and await the next chapter in the story called “Healing.”

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