Why Customer Experience Matters

ALERT: In this article, the word “customer” will be used frequently. “Customer” is used to represent any audience such as students, prospects, families, alumni, faculty, legislators, neighbors or hundreds of other individuals or groups with whom you have exchange and interaction. Some in higher ed would argue that because colleges and universities are not businesses and goods are not exchanged, the word “customer” is inappropriate. While I appreciate this perspective, higher ed indeed delivers a service (opportunities to learn) in exchange for money (tuition, room and board) that I believe qualifies the use of the term.

Think about the last time you checked into a hotel. Or scheduled a ride with Uber. Or went to the grocery store. Or bought clothes online. What was your experience? Was it positive? Was it easy? Was it delightful? Did it reinforce or improve your impression of the brand? Was it coherent with—that is, did it resonate with what you know of—the brand? The encounters you are thinking about—the customer experiences—all contribute to your understanding of the brand of the hotel, Uber, the grocery store or the online clothing retailer. Customer experience is critical to the expression of the market position you wish to secure. Since your brand is based on specifics, the customer experiences you craft contribute to the impressions and beliefs your customers build about you. You can design customer experiences to shape those impressions. In this paper, I’ll give you five important reasons for investing your attention in the design of great experiences for your customers.

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Rick Bailey

Rick is the Principal and founding partner at RHB.