by Keith Fiveson
Executive Director, Conscious Organizational Design at Consciousness Quotient Institute and CEO, Itesa

We humans think and connect more than ever before. We consume information. We network on social sites; research our buying decisions, assess our social values. We value products and services based on experiences. We offer commentary and vote with our dollars and sense. We score the experience, with use and accessibility to websites, visits to stores, conversations, chats or emails. Was it pleasing, did it inspire, tire, or serve to frustrate us?

At every touchpoint – phone, e-mail, in person, chat, video, etc., consciousness is an essential ingredient to the customer experience and the success of the organization. When people are aware, awake and in tune with the physical environment, their perceptions sharpen, emotions are aligned. Then, people focus on design, story and subjective meaning. What is not said is often more important than what is. The experiential design looks to evoke positive perceptions, at every touchpoint, along the customer journey to create great experiences.

Using all the senses, Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, created a customer experience that is unique, now experienced worldwide. McDonald’s kitchens were made visible to customers to provide a firsthand view of the facility’s cleanliness standards. Hamburgers, french-fries and beverage stalls were strategically positioned to choreograph employee movements that created a perception of “speed-fast food” in customers. Human beings are naturally happy with pleasant stimulating surroundings, and when such emotions are evoked, they make a lasting impression on the customer and make the experience a special one.

By focusing on consciousness and the customer experience, the organization must look at itself as a complex body of people, processes and technologies. A company can use the experiential design wheel© as a tool to provide perspectives in six key areas of consciousness:

1) Knowledge (MENTAL) – technology, training, process and procedures
2) Physical environments – visual themes, colors, smells, sounds, or aesthetics to impact perceptions, moods, decisions and engagement.
3) Emotional quotient – the perception of emotion, and the use of stories and allegory to identify emotional hot spots, to win the favor or support of employees and/or customers.
4) Leadership (SPIRIT) – inspiration, communication, transparency and its use in gaining and winning support.
5) Sociability (SOCIAL) – connections that define and build organizations, internally and externally, through social action, media and service in the community.
6) Measurement (INSIGHT) – interpretation and use of data, surveys and analytics to score, assess and validate experiences against performance goals, to ideate and innovate.

Customer experience is a continuous and conscious process that happens on multiple levels. Implementing a plan that focuses on conscious experiences can be a daunting exercise because of the complexity and simultaneous demands for top priority. The experiential design wheel© is a simple and pragmatic approach that looks at key areas of consciousness and experience. A more detailed analysis is then possible, to assess customer segments/revenue contribution, tools and impact. Improving loyalty and lifetime value for both customers and employees does not come without a price. It is an effort that requires leadership and investment.