Definition of an experience

From impressions to advocacy

What is the definition of customer experience? Normally you get as many different answers as there are questions to this seemingly simple question. In general, however, the definition goes somewhat like this:

Customer experience is the sum of your customers’ perceptions of their interactions with your company across all channels.

It has been claimed that customer experience is also more than customer satisfaction. There is clearly a link between an experience and how a positive experience can lead to increased satisfaction. But is the experience more than customer satisfaction? Or could they be the same but on the opposite sides of a continuum? Aren’t customer experiences directly linked to the overall satisfaction? 

Nobel prize winner, behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman provides one of the greatest insights lately to the versatile, and previously even wrong understood, the definition of an experience. He says that we have two different types of experiences: an instant, experiencing self and a long-term, remembering self. Hence, there are two entirely different kinds of experiences impacting the way we, as consumers, experience. The experiencing self is like a collector of different kind of input from our surroundings; sensory, instant, task-oriented and short-term. The remembering self, on the other hand, processes the experiences the experiencing self-collects and formulates opinions and cognitive responses to that input. Hence, the approaches we have to experience (sensing and remembering) are different but interrelated.

Based on general views of customer experience and its myriad of definitions, I tried to combine them with the Kahneman’s opinion. Below my take on a positive customer experience definition along the continuum based on Kahneman’s experiencing self and remembering self.

My idea is that customer experience definition moves from instant experiences and moments (experiencing self) into long-term memory and evaluation of those instance experiences (remembering self). This implies reformulation of the definition of customer experience as follows: 

Customer experience is the analysis of your customers’ perceptions of their instant interactions with your company across all channels.

This definition of an experience puts marketing efforts and system of touchpoints into a different light. There is an emphasis on instant experience management; sensory experiences, pleasant surprises, enjoyable interactions. The new kind of definition also puts the management system of longer-term experience into the forefront; emotional management of experiences, expectations management, journey and stories that are remembered. How do you measure the seemingly two different experiences? How do you enable the two experiences to happen? And how do you make sure they are interlinked, on the same continuum? 

Would you agree on the definition of an experience? Do comment below.

Musta Experience is the experience strategy consultancy that helps you to create holistic and profitable experiences that people value. Please contact if you are interested in discussing how we could help you to define your experience strategy.

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