Daily Archives: Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Customer experience and the search for authenticity

I’m seriously thinking about attending this year’s TED Conference in Oxford. In case you don’t know, TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences bring together an eclectic mix of speakers and attendees, questioning perceptions and encouraging discussion of new ideas. Whilst looking through videos of past speakers I came across Joseph Pine, who has an interesting take on customer experience and the search for authenticity.

In short, Josephs proposition (as I understand it) is that in economic history we kicked off by trading commodities like wheat, meat and cotton, we then progressed by processing the commodities to make goods that enabled us to achieve added value. Over the last twenty years we have seen the commoditisation of goods that has lead to greater price competition over and above other product attributes. In order to achieve competitive advantage organisations need to now rely on customer experience as the primary differentiator, but importantly what prospective customers are looking for is authenticity.

So what does Joseph mean by authenticity? Essentially it is that what customers get is what they’ve been promised, however, importantly it is necessary for the organisation to be fully aligned with the delivery of the experience in order for the maximum effect to be garnered. Joseph cites the example of Disney Land as a great example of the delivery of authenticity, because the experience delivered is exactly what’s been promised and the employees and organisation are all pointing in the same direction.

What does this mean for online experience? By focusing on the holistic experience of the website and less on individual experiential items an organisation can achieve greater success. For many websites, it’s recognising that online is a step on the customer journey and not the end destination, if a website can help a customer on their journey and encourage more of them to stay than go with a competitor then it can say that it has helped the experience achieve authenticity.

The thoughts expressed here are my own and do not have anything to do with Joseph Pine who I am sure will have his own take on what’s been written. If you’d like to find out more about TED please visit www.ted.com

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