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Customer experience management: a critical review of an emerging idea

Adrian Palmer (School of Business and Economics, University of Wales Swansea, Swansea, UK)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 25 May 2010




This paper aims to critically assess the conceptual validity of customer experience as a construct and propose a model which integrates inter‐personal relationships, service quality and brands.


A critical review of literature is structured around the key components of brands, relationships, quality, emotions and perceptions, viewed from a consumer's perspective.


Paradoxes in use of the term customer experience are noted. As a verb, experience describes a process of learning, leading to learned response, but as a noun emphasises novelty and the lack of predictable, learned response. By incorporating emotions and perceptual distortion over time, customer experience overcomes many problems associated with static, partial measures of service quality.

Research limitations/implications

Academic coverage of the subject of customer experience remains fragmented. Approaches to its measurement are suggested and their limitations noted. The multi‐dimensional, situation‐specific nature of customer experience favours qualitative rather than quantitative measurement approaches.

Practical implications

The unique nature of customer experience, which is specific to a customer, at a specific time and location, in the context of a specific event, limits its managerial usefulness for planning and control purposes. Many companies have seen customer experience management (CEM) as a successor to customer relationship management (CRM). However, issues of inter‐functional integration become an even greater challenge.


This paper has provided a critical review of an emerging topic and suggested that despite academic interest in the concept, practical application of customer experience management may be difficult to achieve.



Palmer, A. (2010), "Customer experience management: a critical review of an emerging idea", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 196-208.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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