As the word “Experience” becomes increasingly incorporated into job titles and departments, the debate seems to be growing about just what it means.

I have written formerly about the line between customer experience and user experience.  But there are other forms of “experience” that are neither one or the other.  It all comes down to who your audience is that you’re trying to attract (and design for).

The exact nature of the experience of products or services will likely differ, depending on whether that person is an:

  • Employee
  • Student
  • Teacher / Faculty member
  • Researcher
  • Parent
  • Client
  • Customer
  • Prospect
  • Visitor
  • Guest
  • Voter
  • Audience
  • Constituent
  • Member
  • User of a digital or online product.

So maybe it’s time to consider whether just the word “Experience” is enough in itself. Is there such a thing as analyzing (and also designing) the “experience” of a product or service or visit?

Since “user experience” is increasingly used to substitute for the older term “user interface,” the other forms of “experience” (customer, client, and the like) are now taking on a more strategic character.

That includes the “experience” of:

  1. Researching information (on what to buy, where to go, who to talk to, etc.)
  2. Finding who to deal with / finding a source
  3. Establishing initial contact
  4. Conducting a transaction (whether buying, voting, or registering)
  5. Getting support and help

By analyzing or designing the complete (end-to-end) experience, you can provide a strategic roadmap towards improving your organization’s interactions with its constituents.

Clearly, in the midst of this, social media must be inserted, as the new social fiber of online connectivity. So, the analysis of today’s total end-to-end experience will therefore likely include:

  • Traditional media / advertising
  • Search tools (Google, Bing, etc.)
  • Landing pages
  • Website
  • Online forms
  • Downloadable documents / content
  • Online chat
  • Social media
  • Customer support / call center
  • Retail centers / in-person staff

This last item (in-person contact) is not often thought of as part of the “experience,” especially with digital media but it is very much a part of a total experience with a company or organization. To really analyze and/or design the entire “experience” of a product or service, you need to go through all the steps your audience takes in their journey, right up to walking in the door, shaking someone’s hand, and having an in-person conversation.

“Experience” as a discipline is clearly evolving. “User Experience” (UX) and “Customer Experience” (CX) should probably really reside in the same internal departments, and not fight against each other or ignore each other. The overall management of your audience’s experience is a skill set and discipline that spans marketing, research, design, and information technology.Together, they become a powerful tool towards improving an organization’s effectiveness with its products or services.

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