This is the Dawning of the Age of… Experience!

Experience design

Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore ushered in this new age of thinking when they published their book, The Experience Economy; work is theatre and every business a stage back in 1999. Since then, the book has been refreshed (2009) and is worth another visit.

While not the first to articulate the concept, Pine & Gilmore magnified the idea that consumers would (and do) pay more for rich experiences. Their progression of economic value details the concept and set us on a path of experience-focused thinking. I’m a follower of their thinking and personally believe in the intense power of effectively designed experiences.

So what does that mean for today? Seriously, 1999 was a long time ago! Well, it means that we are 17 years down the road and people’s appetites for experiences is running on full throttle.

In other words, if you’re not actively looking at, evaluating, and purposefully designing your customer experiences, touch points and interactions, you’re behind and have a lot of making up to do!

For instance, right now I’m at a fairly new Starbucks location in my home town. I walk in, there are three baristas behind the bar. There’s seating for 50, currently 12 people are here. No line, and no one in the drive-thru. My “expectation” is quick friendly service. I was wrong, I received neither. That’s an experience fail. But why? I received my hot “Venti Pike with Room” in a little under five minutes. Why the failure? Simply put, my experience didn’t align with my expectations. OK, now you’re thinking, “What a jerk!” That may be, but actually I’m a product of the “experience economy” where my individual expectations drive my experiential impressions.

You see, experiences are inherently personal and the challenge we face as experience designers is discovering those individual preferences. Once we discover those insights through purposeful “mining,” we become stewards of the insight and have a responsibility to use them to inform the design and enrich the experience.

My intention here is to start that conversation… if you have a passion for people-centered experience design, continue to the conversation below!

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