Designing Experiences: A book review by Bob Morris

Designing Experiences
Robert Rossman and Mathew D. Duerden
Columbia Business School Publishing (July 2019)

The secret sauce of high-impact experience design and redesign

I agree with Bob Rossman and Matt Duerden that “understanding the social and psychological phenomena that facilitate experiences will help you better design them.” They provide a framework of experience types “from prosaic to transformational”  that will prepare almost anyone for comprehensive experience design.

In fact, “You are an experience designer whether or not you realize it.  You are constantly involved in authoring experiences for your customers, colleagues, friends, and family. The relevant question is, Are you doing this intentionally? Conscious and purposeful experience design is a key to personal and professional success…Although some people (e.g. Walt Disney) and organizations (e.g. Ritz Carlton) appear to have the innate ability to deliver amazing experiences, the experiences that they deliver are in fact built on a foundation of meticulous and intentional design.”

It is worth noting that companies annually listed among those most highly admired and best to work for are also annually listed among those most profitable, with the greatest cap value. That is certainly true of the nine companies cited by Rossman and Duerde for having the highest Net Promoter Score® (NPS):  USAA (79), Costco (79), Ritz Carlton (75), JetBlue (74), H-E-B (72), Amazon (68), Apple (63), and Netflix (62). The scores are determined by customer’ evaluations of their relationship experiences, for better or worse. An excellent NPS score is above 50.

“We believe the primary driver behind their NPS success is the experience they deliver to customers…these companies have figured out how to design and consistently deliver powerfully positive customer experiences. Experiences matter across all industries. Companies that provide great experiences to customers and employees succeed; those that don’t, fail.”

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me in Part One:

o Defining Experience, and What Is Experience Design? (Pages 9-14)
o Play and Flow (17-19)
o Designing Memorable Eexperiences (24-26)
o Producing Experiences (26-29)
o The Framework (32-39)
o Experience Attributes (40-50
o Framework + Attributes (50-53)

Rossman and Duerden devote Chapters Four-Seven to “The Experience Designer’s Toolkit” and then Chapters Eight-Ten to “Creating Great Experiences: Enhancements and Examples.”

As I worked my way through their lively and eloquent narrative, I was again reminded of countless family vacations my wife and I planned for us and our children as well as countless visits by family members and friends from out-of-town. What should we see? What will we do? And what will create memories that we and they will cherish for years to come?

The fact is, the information, insights, and counsel that Bob Rossman and Matt Duerden provide have almost unlimited applications in our private lives as well as in the business world. In this context, two quotations come to mind. First, from Theodore Roosevelt: “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Next, from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out two others: The latest updated version of B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore’s The Experience Economy: Competing for Customer Time, Attention, and Money (2019), and, Chip and Dan Heath’s The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact (also 2019).

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