Posted by: Greg Siefert | June 23, 2009

Customer Experience Model

Customer Experience Model

Customer Experience Model

I am one to think in models.  So, I wanted to share a customer experience model that I’ve been thinking about. 

At the heart of any business is a model made of three parts:

  1. The business aspect — this filters ideas and brings only the viable, potentially profitable and sustainable ideas to market…at least this is how it should work…
  2. The people aspect — this really refers to the customers who are the ultimate judges as to whether or not a product/service is desirable.  Remember, your management team and employees don’t define your success.  Your customers — the people who want and desire your products/services — define your success.  As a side note, keeping your finger on the pulse of your customers is exceptionally important and something that social media can help with.
  3. The technology aspect — technology makes thing feasible today that were not even imaginable a few short years ago. 
There are a quite a few intersections in this model:
  • Intersection of Business and People — This is where emotional innovation occurs.  Where there is a real connection between the business and the people (customers), two way dialogue will occur.  This will lead to the people becoming more and more loyal as the business listens adapts their portfolio of products/services to the people.  A great balance of desirability and viability are achieved and your customers become your greatest evangelists.
  • Intersection of business and technology — Process innovation is where businesses spend much of their time, constantly on the lookout for cost savings, process improvements, efficiencies, quality control, etc.  This pulls in the opposite direction of the emotional innovation described above.  While emotional innovation is about doing something unique for the customer, process innovation is looking to standardize and create repeatability.  We need to realize that these two intersections are not mutually exclusive and can be balanced.  Unfortunately, many businesses fall into the trap of focusing most of their energy on this intersection instead of taking the time to focus on the people and the emotional innovation.  In other words, the balance is not level, but skewed toward the process innovation.
  • Intersection of people and technology — The functional innovation includes connecting and collaborating with the customers through a variety of means.  It also looks at the features of the products/services and how they can be improved.  This could also be called the design intersection.  It is important to avoid the pitfall of throwing bells and whistles into this intersection just because the technology allows you to (e.g. “just because you can” syndrome).
Each of these intersections is important, but a holistic view is even more important.  A focus on customer experience brings each of these parts together.  For example, it helps you to avoid the “just because you can” syndrome as you ask:  do these new bells and whistles help the people accomplish something or do they just get in the way?
Now some questions for you:  What part of this model resonates with you?  Where can it be improved?


  1. Great model! Exactly what I was looking for. It shows the right forcefield between different businessdrivers whereas the model itself doesn’t get tied up in a model that exists out of silo’s that won’t interact. Well done! For now a couple of suggestions, like: Social Media (under ‘Emotional Innovation), or do you believe this to be ‘branding’ or ‘marketing’? And: usability & contentmanagement under ‘Functional innovation’.

  2. Erwin — good thoughts and suggestions. Social Media can be a great way to facilitate emotional innovation…if done properly. Companies cannot just put a Facebook site up and hope for a positive customer experience. It needs to be an effective tool to conduct 2-way conversations.

    Real emotional innovation occurs when you create a product or service that enables connection. Apple has created an almost religious following and they don’t conduct much two way conversation with customers — however, their products create a deep emotional connection.

    Usability and content management are tools that help software products deliver on functional innovation. When you expand out from software and think about other products, the functional innovation becomes more clear — think about Dyson vacuums: They included the right amount of functional innovation to really stand out and create intrigue. They didn’t add so many features that potential buyers (users) were confused. They struck a great balance. (Their Airblade hand dryer product is another story… see

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