Using the experience word for anything will ultimately break it

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For many people, experience is the central idea in digital transformation. A word that suddenly broke into our day-to-day lives but is nothing new : the founding act of the experience literacy is The Experience Economy, by Joe Pine, which first edition was released in 1999.

In other words : what many people see as a digital buzzword used to sell fireworks on web screens is, at the beginning, a deep reflection on new value creation models. The one is the consequence of the other but it’s interesting to have a look at what the word experience is used for today.

Experience is a buzzword used for any meaning

Don’t say “read a page” but “consume an experience”.

Don’t say “your page is loading” but “your experience is loading”.

Don’t day “I added a new text block in one click” but “I created a new experience”.

Don’t say “let me collect your data to display personalized ads” but “we’re using cookies to deliver a better experience”.

Don’t say “did you see the visual effect on the home page” but “did you see the experience ?”.

Don’t say “since your last visit” but “since our last experience”.

Don’t say “we have two office buildings downtown” but “we offer clients and employees two experiences downtown”.

I was recently in an airport that was doing a huge make-up. Signs around the construction areas were saying “we’re improving the passenger experience”. In fact they were redesigning the linear passenger path between security checks to gates  to make it a non-linear one, forcing passengers to go through the duty-free shops. It was rather about improving the vendor experience.

Today it’s impossible to sell anything without using the experience word somewhere. But while are steel working seriously and deeply on the matter, some are popularizing two new definitions of experience.

Experience, a concept in the hands of charlatans

1°) “Stuff that happens on a screen”.

2°) “Thing the client would have refused without a good marketing rewording”.

You have the choice between “bullshit” and “the vaseline you put on a used suppository”.

I wonder how long it will take before clients will stop to buy the concept without realizing he’s being fooled. And, in the end, what will happen to the serious initiatives when the baby will be thrown with the bath’s water ?

Or, maybe, we’ll have to wait for the day no one will use the experience word anymore to work seriously and honestly on it, far away from today’s  frenzy.

Will experience survive charlatans ? We’ll know it in one year. Or maybe less.

Photo Credit : Fotolia.

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Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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