I have long been a proponent of user experience design. Even today, you will find a reference on our Creative Studio site to creating "branded user experiences". I followed AIGA's attenpt to galvanize a cadre of interactive design folks around the discipline of user experience design. I know there are folks who claim credit for coining the phrase.
Here is a very sensible definition of user experience in relation to Customer Experience Management. I take this for granted but must remember that many do not just based upon the evidence of questionable online experiences from companies who should know better.
Here is the definition:
"User Experience is an important part of CEM, but like Experiential Marketing, it's a part of a much larger whole. User Experience architects focus on creating functional, intuitive interfaces (online or systems applications and technological devices) that enable customer interaction and transaction. CEM practitioners focus on the comprehensive interaction of customers in both online and offline channels."
It is only natural that as the Internet continues to mature (more customers doing business there) that companies will get more and more serious about refining the customer experience within an interactive domain. Think about how serious McDonalds is about understanding the dynamic of the drive through and the difference on revenue a few seconds of efficiancy can make. Why wouldn't you expect the same dynamic within an electronic interaction?
As we continue to be fascinated with the next new thing (social computing? broadband networks? Web 2.0?), we still have a tremendous opportunity to creating terrific user experiences online.