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The customer experience: a road‐map for improvement

Robert Johnston (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Xiangyu Kong (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 25 January 2011



This paper aims to respond to the call to help organisations to systematically engineer their customer experiences. Its objective is to investigate how organisations actually go about designing and improving their customer experiences.


A total of four organisations were chosen for this exploratory study; one business‐to‐business company, one business‐to‐consumer company, one utility, and one public sector organisation. This longitudinal study over a period of four years collected data from participant observation, discussions, internal reports and from secondary data.


Despite the differences between the four organisations they appear to have taken, independently, the same approach to bring about improvements to their customer experiences. This paper proposes a ten‐stage “road‐map” to improvement which develops the existing models.

Research limitations/implications

Main limitations were that the in‐depth, longitudinal study covered just four organisations and from a mix of sectors. Additional work is needed to further test the findings in more organisations.

Practical implications

This study identifies the critical importance of mindset change in the design of customer experience improvement programmes and the ways in which customers can be directly engaged in the design and improvement process. Importantly, it provides a road‐map that organisations can use as a base for improving their customer experiences. It also suggests that it is useful to have clear objectives in three areas: customer; staff; and cost‐efficiency; and use them to assess the benefits of improving the customer experience.


The study organises the current literature on the customer experience, distinguishes between “service” and “experience”, and provides a research‐based road‐map for improving the customer experience.



Johnston, R. and Kong, X. (2011), "The customer experience: a road‐map for improvement", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 5-24.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited