Nature of Experiences

The Contextual and Dialectical Nature of Experiences -

Understanding the cognitive dimension of experience is crucial in designing a service that creates memorable and personal experiences for customers. Creating a successful experience is to design the setting that facilitates activities and to train guides or leaders to familiarize customers with rules and norms, encourage social interaction and help customers to find their way in the environment.


An experience is the outcome of participation in a set of activities within a social context. In an experience, context is the physical setting, particular selection and arrangement of products, the world of objects and social actors, and the rules and procedures for social interactions with other customers and service facilitators. Within the constraints of a setting, each individual forms his or her own unique “use environment”. Customers preferences are dynamic and shaped in the context in which decisions are made and in which products or services are consumed. It is the take-away impression formed by peopleʼs encounters with products, services
and businesses.

Experiences can be characterized and differentiated from services and products as:

- The organizationʼs influence over the customerʼs use environment: the context within which the action takes place. Influence can take form in advertising and image creation or from ethnographic studies.
- Customer participation: allows each customer to create a use environment in a way that suits him or her the best.
- Social interaction: enhance the sense of belonging and help to create a sense of being a group member, which in turn makes the experience personal and memorable.

Situated action framework

Itʼs a recent paradigm of thinking in cognitive psychology. It relates Context with


- Context: two levels of influence - indirect influence (institutionalized rules, cultural tools and practices, etc.) and direct influence (immediate social interaction among
members of a community).
- Cognition: knowledge is constructed in activities and interactions that occur in different social settings.

This relationship is regarded as Practice, where it integrates subject with object, cognition with context and agency with material tools, signs and symbols, and division of labor. Practice is a unit of analysis to study how experiences are constructed in the process of cognitive and noncognitive activities, how individuals are constrained in their
activities and how their thinking is shaped in social interaction.

Good experiences must contain:


organized around a clearly defined central activity.


active participation is essential in creating a unique and memorable experience. Objects, tools used in the activities must be accessible and visible to the

Social interaction:

careful training of facilitators that encourage customer interaction and participation in activities.

Note that customers bring their own knowledge and skills to the activities and create an experience that is different from anyone else. Interactions and outcomes canʼt be all anticipated by market research, focus groups or questionnaires.

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