Experience? Engagement? Same Difference! Right?

ah, the wonders of having been there, done that, and having the t-shirt…. i actually have tons of t-shirts.

i have not only done many things early, that’s what comes with being an analyst for 20 years – the wonderful challenge of working with early adopters guiding them to achieve the visions we concoct, but i have also taken the time to write down summaries of what it means to do what we just did.  i find the value of my job to be to broaden the market, to make a bigger pie. bigger pies feed more people, and to make bigger pies you need a good recipe.

any good analyst is a writer of cookbooks (Beth Eisenfeld, a former colleague at Gartner and one or the more talented analysts I worked with, introduced me to this concept and still holds today); and any good writer of cookbooks knows that it takes many tries to get a recipe right – but also that the basics seldom change.  the basics of cooking (temperature, methods, flavorings, etc.) don’t change, but following the right steps can make a difference in the outcome (as my youngest daughter always tell me, you cannot bake bacon or cook cookies – ain’t that weird?).

this complicated intro is the gateway to explaining the difference between interactions, experiences, and relationships.  if you want to achieve one or the other, use the right ingredients and follow the right recipe.  putting 3 cups of salt in your gnochi ala romana when the recipe calls for 3 teaspoons does not make it better (trust me on this, don’t try it).

and what it the main idea behind the right recipe? glad you asked… because that’s the core of this post…


the problem we always have when adopting customer interface strategies (which is what all these are words are in essence) is that we get awed by the glitzy concept of measuring something that will show the world how awesome we are (and allow us to do great pr in the process) that we forget the basics behind it.  and the basics in customer interface strategies, after nearly 30 years doing this, is to start at the end.  just like a recipe – you know what it needs to look like when done, then figure out how to get there.  you want your steak to look and taste amazing? don’t bake it or boil it.  you want your cake to rise? use leavening agents.  that stuff is simple – and so are customer interface strategies.

problem is that we get so seduced by the concept of “controlling” customer interactions better than we often forget what we are trying to do.

we tried managing relationships (let’s call it — oh, i don’t know… CRM for lack of a better name…), didn’t work.  some guru comes out with the concept of “experiences” — that’s what we need to do… so we set out to design experiences (also a model where we control what customers do, btw – something that customers don’t want or need.. let’s call it — oh, CEM), but we failed.  so another rockstar ninja success hacker created the concept of engagement – awesome, we finally figured out what we need to do.  let’s build systems that make customers engage with us… but then again, that does not work either (at least, it has not worked so far for the few that have done something with this; wanna know why? i wrote the e-book about it back in 2013, still applies).


it’s not the concept, it’s not the idea, but it’s the implementation.  it’s the following of the wrong recipe, every single time.

how so?

easy – we never focused on what the outcome was.  we never imagined out steak with char marks, juicy, slightly pink in the middle, with enough salt around the crust that was created by the perfect temperature we took the time to build up slowly in the grill.

we simply said: steak! let’s eat it!  it will cook faster if we put it in the microwave, or boil it, or steam it.  it will be simpler if we just put it in the oven for one hour and ensure it’s cooked all the way through.  it will taste better if we put ketchup on it…

(side item, i come from argentina – writing the above paragraph hurt more than you think)

that’s what we are doing with all these strategies: we are trying to rush to the end result (eating steak) without spending time on figuring out how to make it better.

and making it better requires, first and foremost, focusing on the outcome.  and i finally found a good way to explain the evolution of customer interfaces by focusing on outcomes.  see below

what do you think? there’s lots more behind this, of course, but it’s a good start.  where do you fit? where are you? what’s going on with you? let me know in the comments if you “cooked any of these recipes” and little tips that will help me improve mine.

thanks for reading.

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