A taxonomy of customer experiences

October 26, 2009

When we started to explore a “customer experience” approach to understanding customer requirements and needs one of our first steps was to create a taxonomy of customer experiences. The idea was to help development teams systematically deconstruct (i.e. “unpack”) the ways a customer could experience their new products and services (and everything wrapped around these new products/services) and so provide a new tool in designing a winning customer experience. We identified six types of customer experiences:

Taxonomy of exp

One obvious insight from this taxonomy is that there is a lot more involved with a customer’s total experience with a product or service (and the company that provides it) than just the functional utility and use experience. While it is important to pay attention to functional experiences (and they are often the dominant experience element), you ignore the others at your peril since one (or more) of them may be a critical differentiator driving a buy decision. We all know the famous quote from marketing guru Ted Levitt – “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill …they want a quarter-inch hole” . But that ignores a whole class of serious home craftsmen who buy their tools because of the aesthetics of the design or the “professional feeling” they get when using them or the good story line they provide when talking with peers.

Now clearly the different types of customer experiences are not necessarily independent for a given offering, particularly around the functional element – e.g. for Wikipedia the functional experience is all about content (and content delivery) and for a corporate investment instrument the financial experience is what functionality is all about. But we believe this potential overlap is much less important than the insight that functional performance is not the be-all and end-all of what is important to customers, particularly as you consider their experiences at other points along the full experience cycle from purchase to installation through use and servicing to final disposal (we will say more about the customer experience cycle in our next post.)

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