Can Customer Experienced Be Measured?

downloadI assume your immediate reaction was, “of course”.  But this isn’t meant to be a rhetorical question. and I’m not talking about customer satisfaction or other such customer sentiment measures.  I’m referring to the ability to mathematically model the input variables that deliver (or at least best influence) a specific experience outcome.  And why I say “best influence” is because, at the end of it all, the experience is in the eye of the beholder – the customer in this case.  So, try as one might to create an experience, the perception is ultimately left to the customer.

But back to the point at hand.  This might seem a bit out there.  Then again, some academic that’s a heck of a lot smarter than me may have already figured it out.  But, my simple thought process led me here as I was waiting in a fast food drive through the other day…and waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Customer Experience, or the perceived experience realized by your customer, is the output of many variables, both internal and external.  The internal variables that a company can control include product, service and price.  So, as you’re designing your intended experience, how are the weightings of each of these variables determined?  Can they be weighted?

My fast food adventure brought to mind two very different approaches.  The restaurant who’s drive-through line I sat in for 15 minutes seems to be relatively innovative with their menu choices, always looking for ways to tweak it.  And they do as much with pricing promotion.  Dollar menus, etc (oops! did I give it way?).

One of their competitors, on the other hand, has a relatively simple menu.  The food is decent.  And by no means are they cheap comparatively speaking.  Yet, they have built their business model around exceptional service.

So, how did each company decide what variables to weigh more heavily in their experience equation?  Both companies are highly successful.  Both have the same input variables to work with.  Yet, their experience designs emphasize very different elements.

What’s the right answer?  Is there a right answer?  Do the variable weightings shift over time?  Is it more trial and error?  Or, can the customer experience actually be represented mathematically?

Any bigger brains than me out there want to chime in?