The Exceptional Guest Experience Requires a Designing Mind

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the last time you truly had a great experience with a company as a consumer, an experience that captured your heart, soul, mind, and spirit. What about it was special? Call it “X” – that je ne sais quoi that makes something so special. The tenth and final session of the summer term of the 2016 GsD program – a reading survey course – is all about how to create such memorable moments for your customers.

This reading survey journey has been a broad overview of some of the recent literature in the field of customer service – and you will quickly see how it connects to Guest Experiences! It’s only an introduction to whet your appetite – the application to the world of Guest Experiences for churches will come in the second summer term!

2016 GsD Summer Term 1: Survey of Customer Experience Literature 201

Text: X: The Experience When Business Meets Design

Author: Brian Solis

Synopsis: Welcome to a new era of business in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.

  • Do you know how your customers experience your brand today?
  • Do you know how they really feel?
  • Do you know what they say when you re not around?

In an always-on world where everyone is connected to information and also one another, customer experience is your brand. And, without defining experiences, brands become victim to whatever people feel and share.

In his book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design bestselling author Brian Solis shares why great products are no longer good enough to win with customers and why creative marketing and delightful customer service too are not enough to succeed. In X, he shares why the future of business is experiential and how to create and cultivate meaningful experiences.

This isn’t your ordinary business book. The idea of a book was re-imagined for a digital meets analog world to be a relevant and sensational experience. Its aesthetic was meant to evoke emotion while also giving new perspective and insights to help you win the hearts and minds of your customers. And, the design of this book, along with what fills its pages, was done using the principles shared within.

Brian shares more than the importance of experience. You’ll learn how to design a desired, meaningful and uniform experience in every moment of truth in a fun way including:

  • How our own experience gets in the way of designing for people not like us
  • Why empathy and new perspective unlock creativity and innovation
  • The importance of User Experience (UX) in real life and in executive thinking
  • The humanity of Human-Centered Design in all you do
  • The art of Hollywood storytelling from marketing to product design to packaging
  • Apple’s holistic approach to experience architecture
  • The value of different journey and experience mapping approaches

The future of business lies in experience architecture and you are the architect.


Book Outline

The brief synopsis above hopefully has given you the idea that this is not a normal book – it isn’t. It was actually designed to be a sensational experience. So, a normal of outline just won’t do.

Try this:


About the author: Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in business innovation. As a digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, he studies disruptive technology and its impact on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it.

Additional Resources: To continue the experience, check out these resources.

A Quick Comment:

It is relatively easy for a church to provide a great Guest Experience occasionally.  But in order to create a WOW! Guest Experience, it is vital that you do this every time.

The only way to achieve a consistently great Guest Experience is if the experiences are designed.

To design something means that it is deliberate, not an accident or luck. Deliberate is a strong, proactive word. Stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my Guest Experience process deliberate?
  • Did I deliberately set out to create and deliver a WOW! Guest Experience?
  • Is the outcome of the Guest Experience one that I have proactively designed?

From my observation and research in churches of all sizes across the country, in most cases the Guest Experience is not deliberate – it is something that just happens.

X: The Experience When Business Meets Design introduces a transformative approach to customer experiences by design: human-centered architecture. The approach defines customer experience as the sum of all customer engagements in each touch-point and every “moment of truth” through the customer lifecycle. It’s an approach that asks questions like these:

What is the Guest Experience I am trying to deliver? Do you know? Does your team know? If I came onto your campus and asked your team “What is the Guest Experience you are trying to deliver every weekend?” would they be able to tell me? Would I get a consistent answer? Since emotions account for over half of a Guest Experience, a necessary follow-up questions is:

What are the emotions you are trying to evoke? Without considering what emotions you are trying to evoke, your Guest Experience can’t be deliberate.  According to a study done by an Australian consumer psychologist, emotions range from the top end (people are appreciated, happy, contented, delighted, and valued) to a middle range (people are indifferent or emotionless) to the bottom (people are disappointed, frustrated, neglected, annoyed, or insulted). If you are going to evoke top-level emotions, then a third question comes next:

What senses are you going to use to evoke these emotions and how are your going to do this? Human beings take in information through their 5 senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. In our daily lives we use our senses to gather data about he world around us. If a Guest Experience is about the senses that are being stimulated, creating a Great Guest Experience means we define how and when to engage these senses and create a deliberate sensory impact and memory.

Creating a Guest Experience that is defined, deliberate, and designed is the key to delivering a WOW! Guest Experience every time.




Guestology the art and science of knowing and understanding your guests – is a term originated by Bruce Laval of the Walt Disney Company. The use of GsD (Doctor of Guestology) is my tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that organizations that really want to understand and deliver a WOW Guest Experience need to study the best practices and principles in use today, and then adapt them to the context of their own environment.

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the 2013 GsD Summer Reading 101 classes, you can begin reading a 10-part session here.

If you want to begin the 2016 GsD Summer Reading 201 classes, start here.

For more reading in the area of Guest Experiences, check out my Essential Guest Experience Library. I am always adding new resources for your learning pleasure!

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