What is the Experience

“We have a great customer experience.”

Okay, I know we all have heard this response from a lot of companies expressing what makes them different than the competition. Maybe we even caught ourselves say it. The phrase ‘A Great Customer Experience’ has become the hot buzzword response statement of the year. Yet, each time I hear this I find myself wondering and wanting to ask this question…

“What is the experience you’re staging for your customer that is so great?”

Let me be clear about one thing, a true experience is not an enhancement of services to support an offering, rather, the experience is the offering which is supported by goods and services. If the experience is the offering, than what type of customer experience are you staging?

Pine and Gilmore identified two dimensions of an experience. The first dimension is that of customer or guest participation. At one of the spectrum lies passive participation and at the other, active participation.

The second dimension of an experience is the type of connection or environmental relationship that connects the customer to the event or performance. At one end of this spectrum lies absorption, viewing from a distance. At the other lies immersion, becoming physically part of the experience itself.

Combining these two aspects helps to define the four primary types of experiences customers can partake of. In the upper left lies the passive absorption of Entertainment such as listening to music, watching a performance or even reading for pleasure. In the upper right lies the active absorption of Educational Experiences. To the lower right lies the active immersion of Escapist Experiences where customers are actively involved. In the final quadrant to the lower left lies the experience of the Esthetic such as viewing artwork in a gallery or museum.

Combinations of any two of these experience realms can create six additional blended experiences. The real differentiator for a great customer experience is the ability of hitting the sweet spot between all four realms into one blended experience like Walt Disney has achieved with the theme parks.

So, the next time you hear someone say they have a great customer experience, ask them what kind of experience(s) are they staging for their customers, because Disney never said he had a ‘Great Customer Experience’ only great experiences.

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Animated Visual Translation

Progression of Economic Value. 10-2015

Adapted from “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore


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Staging A Remote Experience

Okay, so I completed my Experience Economy Certification this past September with James H. Gilmore & B. Joseph Pine II. Extremely intense event and education. And like most events I attend, I created some Visual Translations  (my version of sketchnotes) to help keep all the big ideas.

My grandmother and my mother always told me to give when I could, so, as part of my appreciation for my mentors and the companionship of my fellow classmates, I sent out my series of 6 thINKing Canvas to each of them as a reminder and a thank you.

What I thought was a simple gesture of friendship  returned an even greater gift from my friend Dennis Moseley-Williams. An Inspiring Video.

What a great feeling to get in return for a simple gesture. This is how experiences are staged.

Thanks Dennis!

P.S. Here are the boards the canvas from our certification class that were distributed. One for the five days of training and one recap.

DAY 1:

TEEC Day 1 sm

DAY 2:

TEEC Day 2 sm

DAY 3:

TEEC Day 3 sm

DAY 4:

TEEC Day 4 sm

DAY 5:

TEEC Day 5 sm


TEEC Highlight sm

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thinkAbout 2015

A visual recap of thinkAbout 2015 in Atlanta on the idea of “Ing the Thing” Adding action to a thing to begin thinking about the experience.

The “Regiception” – Reception and Registration Experience. (note this year’s joke is in the upper left. In addition of the morning tour to Chick-fil-A’s headquarters and the recipient of this year’s EXPY award.

thinkAbout 2015 01

Day 1 – Touring

thinkAbout 2015 02

Day 2 – Thinking about Ing the Thing

thinkAbout 2015 03

A special thanks to our after event excursion to The Prime Family of Business Office and congratulations to Jolene for receiving the EMA award.

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Experience Designer – A Modern Myth

So, who wants to be an Experience Designer? Apparently everyone in the design world. The term “Experience Design” or “Experience Designer” has become today’s unicorn of titles. The term conjures up  images of designers dressed in black contemplating great things, and then, designing happiness and wonderful actions, places or things.

The world as we know it, tends to over use a term, not for its accuracy, rather for the attention or superiority of a given term. People and companies want to be seen as trendy or leading edge. So, by using terms such as Experience Design or Experience Designer, most people are unfamiliar with, the person or company is perceived to be exceptional.

I challenge you, the reader, with this simple question, do these “Experience Designers” really exist? Are these magical creatures walking among us?

Before I offer my answer or ask you to answer this, let me take you on a tour of terms and truths. Let’s begin with design or designer. Here is how Webster Dictionary defines Design.

“…to intend for a definite purpose, to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan.

Now Designer;

“…a person who devises or executes designsespecially one who creates forms, structures, and patterns, as for works of art or machines.

Okay, I agree that designs and designers come in many forms and can plan many various things or actions. I do not question that designers exist. These are not the design world’s magical mythical unicorns.

Next, let’s see how Webster Dictionary defines “Experience.

…a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something:

…knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone:”

Just as there are animals that possess a single horn in our world and the fact that horses do exist does not give enough proof that unicorns, a horse with a single horn, are real. Taking two true things does not always provide the possible actuality of a mythological creature existing.

I digress. Lets get back to the “Experience Designer”, the so-called modern super designer. If we look at the title in its literal intent, we can begin to see some questionable issues immediately.

Take the designer, a planner of intent of action or thing, combine with an experience, a personal observation or encounter occurring over a period of time, add the description of an Experience Designer and the final definition would be something like…

“…to intend for a definite purpose, to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan of a personal observation, encounter or undergoing over a period of time.”

For me, it’s about three issues, the first being the issue of being personal. To be personal, means it is internalized by the person who has encountered or observed something. Each person perceives, encounters or observes input differently and a differently at various times.

The second issue is memory. In essence, an experience is a memory of something observed, encountered or undergone. It is personal construct interpretation of that thing or action reflected upon. Notice the tense of this statement as it leads to my third issue.

The third issue is of tense. By the basic nature of what an experience is, the timing of an experience is in the past. Experiencing, present form, is the combination current events and comparing to past experiences or memories if it is similar and a duration of time as the event unfolds. An experience is the refection or memory of that occurrence. We are looking back upon that which has occurred, not looking ahead of what will occur, that is anticipation, not an experience.

My question about the mythological Experience Designer is this, how can a single individual or discipline have the ability, extensive knowledge and personal insight of a single individual, possibly never having previous knowledge of, have the ability to understand and design for that person and others and anticipate how they will respond, at any given point in time, to the design as well as how that memory will be formulated and constructed?

Simply, no one I know. Someone would have to be a mind reader, be able to see in to the future and have the mental compactly to design at multiple levels for endless possibilities and conditions. Makes you wonder who fits this criteria. Who could actually design how people remember?

All I ask is that the title to be true in application to avoid “Busswordiness”, be more accurate with your terms. For instance, I believe designers can design the staging of an experience or even design the environment encapsulating the space an experience could happen. I believe branding designers can create communications that speak to a possible experience through narrative storyline. I would even go as far as to say that I believe there are performance designers who can educate and train people on the best possible performance to support an experience, but, until we can implant custom designed and engineered memories, to me, the mythical “Unicorns” of the design world called Experience Designers or Experience Design does not exist.

Terms that are truer: Experiential Environment Designer, Experience Stagers, Experiential Event Designer and Experience Economy Experts.


What do you think? Do Unicorns exist in your reality?

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The Edge of Change

The world we live in is a funny place. Conversations, styles and even perceived needs are cyclical. What is old is new and new, well, that’s so this morning. Every thing changes. Everything. Those things, people, businesses that don’t, well, that’s so in the past. Change is the only constant they say and I find it to be true. Change up, change back, change around, change out, change into, etc… We have so many perceptions of change that the adaptations seem endless.

Change comes in various sizes and increments. Some changes are dramatic while others are subtle. No matter what, change happens to us all each day. The real goal is to try to guide change as best we can, because change never happens as we expect. It always has hidden surprises or consequences.

But what is change? When does something or someone change? I guess that answer lies in the eye of the observer. Only those closely watching can see the change happening, but for most, we see the event after the change. But what if you could plan change in some fashion. This I have asked for some time and here is what I have created.

Based on the idea that yesterday and today are unchangeable, if you avoid any theoretical ideas of time travel, that only leaves the future for change. And, if change only happens in the future, than you can guide the outcome given you can determine all the factors affected by change. And so, here is my model for change.

Change Deltasm

This is my Delta model for change. Even if you stand at the very edge, change will occur. Time always moves forward and you must move with it. But you can decide how you want the change to happen and what you want the change to create once you understand why you want or need the change to happen.

As the model indicates, change should be an improvement and performed of a duration of time through some given process. Also, you must determine any and all pitfalls and obstacles that may hinder you crossing the gap of change.

So the steps:

  1. Why is there a need for change? “Why”
  2. How will this change occur? “How”
  3. Who can help you achieve this change? “Who”
  4. What improvement will change create? “What”
  5. How long will the change take? “When”
  6. And where do you want to be when the change is complete? “Where”

Map the change before you act. Take you intangible idea and make it a tangible plan.

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