Managing the Customer Experience

Book Review / Change and Organization

Managing the Customer Experience
octopraise , Other

How to create a great valuable experience for the customer

Managing the Customer Experience: Turning customer into advocates
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 1 edition ( 2002)
ISBN-10: 0273661957ISBN-13: 978-0273661955
Review by: Octopraise Manullang

After reading the first chapter, it is easy to decide, “it’s an interesting book!”, but wait,... “don’t judge a book by its cover” nor from the first chapter. Shaun Smith and Joe wheeler wrote 12 chapters, so it’s just a beginning. The central theme of the book is the “Branded Customer Experience”. Customers are not looking for products but for experiences which are part of their lifestyle and brands that go along with this.

Over the years the view of customers on brands and products changed. At the beginning of the 20th century a brand was identified with a product. During the 1980s products brand became a part of lifestyle. Brands became an expression of personality and personal values. Customers are looking for brands that give them experiences that fit their personality and values, hence “Branded Customer Experience”. There are two routes for companies to get the “Branded Customer Experience”:

1. Experiencing the brand: This strategy is best to follow by an established company in a mature market. The starting point is the brand and its deserved values. These values are turned into a promise for the target customers. The company has to deliver the promise. Coca Cola illustrates a great example; they are offering “refreshment” and deliver on the promise.

2. Branding the experience: This is the strategy to follow for new companies. By giving an experience that is far beyond what the competition does, the experience get branded. Like Pret A Manger the fast-growing coffee and sandwich chain, is just passionate about consistently giving their customer good quality food, and it is branded as “Passionate About Food”.

With the “Branded Customer Experience” a company tries to create loyalty to the brand. Creating loyalty is about being intentionally and consistently different from the competition in creating value for the customers. Through this commitment the organization is able to turn loyal customers into advocates. Creating the “Branded Customer Experience” often means that the organisation first needs to go through on the views about the customers and the experiences they offer. This paradigm shift in the economy influences the whole organisation, as consequences everything the company does, should be aimed at delivering the “Branded Customer Experience”.

Shaun Smith and Joe Wheeler are continuing on the idea of “Experiential Marketing” and “The Experience Economy”. Bernd H. Schmitt in his book Experiential Marketing: How to get customer to sense, feel, think, act and relate to your company brand (1999). One of the core ideas is how organizations can create different types of experience for customers. In their book “The Experience Economy” (1999) Pine and Gilmore also described experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event. Those books can be seen as one of the first books that zoom in on making the customer experience as one of the core of marketing.

As a student Master Imagineering (, I realize more and more that we are living in a fast changing world. Paradigm shift in business society is obviously seen. There is a significant change in customer behaviour. Customers nowadays become smarter, active and want to be heard – Prosumer! Customer change more than the organisations. Organisations relying on the old marketing logic to win the customer will fall behind the competition. The organization has to create their unique market identity and customer experience which differs from the competitors. It is important for the organization to define their unique business process. Yet impossible to define “what you are doing”, “how you are doing the process” and “who you are serving” overnight. Therefore to change the organization we have to use Imagineering process.

There are four phase in Imagineering process needed to be followed (we called it roadmap) Inspiration, Creation, Exploration and Organization. Those four phases need to be completed. The phases within the Imagineering roadmap process are clearly recognisable in the book. During the Inspiration phase, the task is to looks at all the stakeholder and their relation with each other, this step is addressed in chapter 1,6 and 7 and appendix 3 in the toolkit. Creation is where the phase of building knowledge and understanding of the creative processes inherent to the management will be created can be found in chapter 3,4 and 12. In the Exploration phase how can we build the experience supply network, management instrument and implement new service described in the chapter 8. The last phase Organization is how to communicate the concept of experience within the organization. This concept has to drive from the top to bottom and make sure that the message delivers the same concept. For this phase most every chapter the role of management and the leadership is written. With their idea of Branded Customer Experience Shaun Smith and Joe Wheeler triggers the organization to investigate their process within the organization. Then the mission to create a great valuable experience for the customer can be achieved.

Indeed, after continuing and finish reading I would recommend the book. Smith and Wheeler are offering practical guidelines, questionnaires, clear examples and a Tool kit to go through the process of organizational change order to create the “Branded Customer Experience”. With their lenient and fresh style of writing the book, this is an easy handbook for those who are willing to change the organisation. The book gives new insights and provides ideas for the reader to open their mind of “how to manage experience of the customer, and turning them into advocates”. Try to answer those questions and reflect upon your business and see how it is going.
Experience the book!

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