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Customer Experience Design


Merlo O.

Course director


Course objectives
By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Manage the entire customer experience process
  • Appreciate why and how to place customers at the core of the company’s strategic thinking
  • Understand and fine-tune the critical moments that define a successful customer experience
  • Design, deploy and manage effective customer experiences with a view to creating customer and financial value

Course description
The profitability of a business increasingly depends on its ability to design and deploy effective customer experiences. Customer experience design has become of critical importance in any industry and is thus an essential skill that managers need to master.

A customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand over the duration of their relationship with that brand. It is influenced by many factors, from the way a brand is perceived, to what happens when someone complains. It is the sum of all relationship-defining events. Therefore, a customer experience starts with the way a customer becomes aware of a brand’s existence, and continues through the cycle of comparison, purchase, implementation, use of the product/service, decision to renew or repurchase, and any word of mouth effects. The companies that win in the moments that matter are those that obsess about customers and the experience they design and deploy for them.

To understand effective customer experience design, this course considers how to design and deploy the most effective strategies and tactics at each stage of the customer experience, that is, in the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase phases. We will look at each step and consider how to build, strengthen and maintain an effective customer experience.

Learning methods
The teaching method is a blend of lectures, case studies, practical exercises & activities, and guest speakers.

Minimum 80%

Examination information
The final assessment for this course is based on a final written exam worth 70% of the final mark.

There is also a group-work element, worth 30% of the final grade, held in the final lecture. 

Required material
The following book is the recommended reading in the course:

Omar Merlo (2020) Strategic Marketing, Amazon: London.

While students are not required to do any pre-readings, those wishing to expand on the material covered in class can refer to the following papers:

  • KPMG Customer Experience Excellence Centre (2017), ”B2B Customer Experience: Winning in the Moments that Matter”.
  • Merlo, O., ”How To Win Friends And Influence People! Your people!”, The Human Factor.
  • Merlo, O., Eisingerich, A.B. & Auh, S. (2014) “Why Customer Participation Matters”, MIT Sloan Management Review, 55, 81-88.
  • Merlo, O. Eisingerich A.B., Shin, H.K., and Britton, R. (2019) “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Customer Participation“, MIT Sloan Management Review, August.
  • Merlo, O., Eisingerich, A.B., Auh, S. & Levstek J. (2018) "The Benefits and Implementation of Performance Transparency: The Why and How of Letting your CUstomers ‘See Through’ Your Business", Business Horizons, 61, 73-84.
  • Berry, L, Carbone, L., & Haeckel, S,H. (2002) Managing the Total Customer Experience, MIT Sloan Management Review, April.
  • Boncheck, M. & Bapat, V. (2018) “The Most Successful Brands Focus on Users — Not Buyers” Harvard Business Review, February.
  • Keller, K.L. (1993) “Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity.” Journal of Marketing, 57(1): pp.1-22
  • Rust, R.T., Zeithaml, A. and Lemon, C.N. (2004) “Customer-Centered Brand Management”, Harvard Business Review, September, pp.2-10.
  • Merlo O. and Meier I. (2008) “Innovation in Market Research: The Ethnographic Method”, Strategic Innovators.
  • Kim, W. and Mauborgne, R. (2004) “Blue Ocean Strategy”, Harvard Business Review.
  • Kim, W. and Mauborgne, R. (2002) “Charting your Company’s Future”, Harvard Business Review.
  • Edelman, D. C (2010) «Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places», Harvard Business Review, December
  • Rawson, A., Duncan, E & Jones, C. (2013) «The Truth about Customer Experience», Harvard Business Review, September.

Case Studies
A number of case studies are also employed for class analysis and discussion and these will be made available to students before the start of the course.