The Art of Balancing Efficiency and Engagement in Customer Experiences


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 04, 2023

3 min read


The Art of Balancing Efficiency and Engagement in Customer Experiences


Efficiency is often seen as the ultimate goal in improving customer experiences. However, many companies fail to realize that a more efficient customer experience does not necessarily equate to a more engaging one. In fact, when organizations become too focused on efficiency, they may neglect other important aspects of experience design. This article explores how great companies like Starbucks and Costco have recognized the importance of striking a balance between efficiency and engagement to create memorable customer experiences.

The Starbucks Experience:

During his visits to Starbucks stores, Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, discovered that the new automated espresso machines, although faster, hindered the baristas from maintaining eye contact with customers. Recognizing the value of the "romance and theater" of the Starbucks experience, Schultz made the bold decision to replace all 20,000 espresso machines worldwide. This move aimed to restore the personal connection between baristas and customers, highlighting the importance of engagement over pure efficiency.

The Costco Haul:

Costco, on the other hand, has built a loyal customer base by embracing a different approach. Unlike traditional retail stores, Costco focuses less on quick in-and-out experiences and more on the thrill of discovery. Customers relish the experience of meandering through the aisles, stumbling upon unexpected bargains, and leaving with a sense of accomplishment. Despite being far from efficient in terms of time, Costco cultivates intense customer loyalty by creating an engaging and exciting shopping adventure.

Understanding Customer Value:

To achieve this level of success, companies must go beyond streamlined processes and operational excellence. They need to grasp the true value customers derive from their products and services, not just on a rational level, but on an emotional one as well. By understanding these emotional drivers, companies can infuse their customer experiences with cues and characteristics that seamlessly align with their value proposition.

Unthinkable Ideas:

In the pursuit of innovation and success, it is crucial to explore ideas that others have overlooked or deemed unthinkable. These overlooked ideas often hold hidden potential for greatness. Making decisions that reduce short-term opportunities can be difficult, but it is these decisions that create long-term opportunities. The most practical skill in life is the ability to do things when one does not feel like doing them. Consistency and perseverance are key to outperforming intermittent efforts.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the balance: Strive for a balance between efficiency and engagement in your customer experiences. Consider how each element contributes to the overall value proposition and focus on aligning them accordingly.
  • 2. Understand emotional drivers: Take the time to understand the emotional aspects of your customers' experiences with your brand. Identify the emotional drivers that influence their loyalty and tailor your customer experience to enhance those emotions.
  • 3. Persevere with consistency: Consistency is crucial for long-term success. Develop strategies to push through difficult times and maintain consistent effort towards the things that truly matter. Remind yourself that you can quit tomorrow, but not today.


Efficiency alone is not enough to create engaging customer experiences. Companies must recognize the importance of striking a balance between efficiency and engagement. By understanding the emotional drivers of their customers and infusing their experiences with cues that align with their value proposition, companies can create memorable and impactful customer experiences. Remember, consistency and perseverance are key to outperforming intermittent efforts.

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