Defining the Customer Experience

By September 10, 2015 September 25th, 2015 Advice, Advice for Businesses, Government, News

Marketing has the unfortunate tendency to latch onto buzzwords, with little consideration being given to their meaning or intent. Customer Experience, also known as User Experience, is one of these trends, with the term becoming increasingly corrupted in its application.

Despite what some may say, focusing on the customer experience is not a new concept. The customer experience is embedded in the foundations of marketing theory that originated in the 1950s, and was later expanded into the 4Ps and subsequently the 7Ps of marketing. These concepts form the foundations of marketing.

The aim of the marketing mix was to define marketing as a function that operates across a business, ensuring a consistent experience from a customer perspective. As a result, the marketing mix encompasses key areas that marketing should have visibility across your business.

The Marketing Mix (otherwise known as the 7Ps of Marketing)

Unfortunately in many businesses marketing is often limited in scope to only a few elements in the marketing mix. As a result, there are inconsistencies that are formed, such as products that are not aligned with promotions, pricing that diminishes value, or processes that cause complications in delivery. Ultimately an inconsistent experience can erode purchase intent, as well as frequency, given it causes confusion that can often lead to inaction.

Fast forward 50 years later, and the term customer experience is now in vogue.

Unfortunately the term customer experience, tends to only scratch the surface. In many cases the customer (that is the person using your product or service), may not necessarily be the person responsible for making the decision or committing to the purchase. This is particularly true in business markets, where there is often the need to engage a number of key stakeholders. Examples also apply to consumer markets, such as chocolates that are consumed by children, but paid for by their parent, who is the final decision maker that approves the purchase.

While it is certainly encouraging to see a return to the customer experience, it is important they we do not lose sight of the broader marketing context. Often there is the need to not only understand users and customers, but the entire decision making process.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Ken Grant says:

    Fully agree with Alex’s comments that the CUSTOMER was central to the 4P’s theory established by Prof Jerry McCarthy in the 1960’s. In fact the ‘4P’s’ should be written with a “C” as his model has the Product, Price, Place Promotion surrounding a “C” standing for CUSTOMER. Using just the ‘4P’s’ is miss quoting the original model as it was designed by McCarthy to teach the fundamental elements of the marketing mix. .

    • Alex Makin says:

      Ken, some great insights into the origins of the marketing and how the discipline appears to be going full circle.

      You are absolutely correct in that the 4Ps is a fundamental element of the marketing mix. Unfortunately many marketing departments and business owners neglect this intent by examining each element in isolation.


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