Chief Experience Officer

Reuben Steiger, a principal at international experience design firm Method, shares some insights into what makes a great brand.

In his 1971 book, Future Shock, the futurist Alvin Toffler talked about the upcoming “experiential industry,” in which people would be willing to allocate high percentages of their salaries to live amazing experiences.

[Today] We are happy to visit Disneyland or pay real money for virtual goods because they amuse and delight us. Spending $200 for an Armani shirt makes perfect sense because the luxury experience and self-expression create an intangible value beyond the mere cloth.

The Fox has never purchased a $200 Armani shirt, but I think this is a fairly accurate characterization of our modern age.

The stock market, the ultimate arbiter of American business success, now places more value on a design-driven company [Apple] than tech titans like Microsoft and Google.

From those that do it well (Amazon, Tiffany & Co.) to those that still need fine-tuning (Facebook, Walmart), all brands are challenged to consistently deliver coherent and satisfying product and service experiences to customers.

Coherent and satisfying experiences is worth repeating in case you’re skimming. People don’t buy a $300 phone or $500 iPad so they can have mediocre, convoluted experiences.

The crux of the problem is that building great experiences is everyone’s responsibility and nobody’s job. Since the brand, the products, and the services are intertwined, whose responsibility is it to fix the situation? Which budget will fund it, and how will success be measured?

Success relies on understanding the specific components that create an overall experience and how those components are delivered. Because the design of that experience crosses internal divisions, this demands the breakdown of budgetary and organizational silos.

Internal divisions and budgetary silos certainly provide some value (otherwise almost every company on the planet wouldn’t organize this way, right?) but in this new experiential industry what is the true cost of operating in departmental vacuums?

The industry understands how to quantify sales, awareness, conversation, referral, and click-through rates. Measuring experience is far murkier. Brands have to empathize with users to understand which elements–measurable or not–shape their experiences, and transform how they work together to create those experiences.

How do we quantify empathy? How do we quantify how upset or confused a customer has become? We see it every day. We largely know our own blind spots and shortcomings. But an inability to work cohesively across departmental lines will cripple our ability to deliver truly delightful and memorable experiences.

Fox Tip: Think like a Chief Experience Officer

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