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Venn diagram with Method in one circle and Magic in the other. Overlapping a little bit.

The Human Experience: A KCDMA recap

If the difference between Marketing, Customer Experience and User Experience are confusing to you, you aren’t alone. Historically three very distinct facets of organizations, at a recent Kansas City Direct Marketing Association lunch Susannah Sulsar presented her thoughts on how these three functions are converging to create a whole new experience: the Human Experience. This new focus on human experience merges these traditional areas, uniting them around the similar goals of creating controllable, individualized, emotional and continuous experiences that are easy, effective and emotionally engaging for consumers. Yet as Suslar noted during her presentation, it’s not enough for organizations to be better than they once were, they now have to meet the human experience expectations set by other organizations. To do this, organizations have to evolve the way they view this experience.

Marketing has always been about looking at segments. Customer experience used to be customer service (think call centers). User experience dove into what customers do and why they do it. While seemingly very different components, in the merged human experience, the only way to see how these all interact, according to Sulsar, is to build a customer journey map. This customer journey map blends art and science to “visually illustrate customers’ processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their relationships with a company”. This journey map brings together the who, what and why of the customer path. Before the map is even complete though, an important objective of this exercise is achieved: helping everyone involved think of a customer’s journey in a different way.

Through this journey mapping, customer personas are developed. These personas, or fictional characters that embody the target customers’ key behaviors, attributes, motivations, and goals,  help define how an organization wants to cultivate the new human experience. During this mapping, it is good to compare what experiences the customer is having at present to what the organization wants to be happening. In looking objectively at these two components next to one another, the organization can identify gaps and inefficiencies in the process and prioritize how to fix them.

When it comes to prioritization, Sulsar presented a few tips from Forrester. First, says Forrester, an organization must Repair the problems that are their fault. Then, they must Prevent future problems by creating Ongoing Feedback Loops. Optimizing against customer satisfaction or net promoter scores is next. During this stage an organization can adopt practices that give the organization a more sophisticated customer experience model. Finally, the organization must Differentiate their uniqueness using emotions as a filter.

After this journey mapping is finished and the organization has understood how marketing, customer experience and user experience converge, its practices must be assessed. If they are missing, the broken experiences have to be found and fixed against measured results. Bright spots must be highlighted as success stories and value-to-customer must become a discussion point when making business decisions. These practices must be repeatable and systematic to sharpen experience-centricity among employees and incorporate customer-centric framing into strategy. The ultimate goal is to find the place where human experience happens in the overlap of method and magic.

To see Susannah Sulsar’s entire presentation, click here. To see other upcoming events for KCDMA, visit their website.


Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate