Beginning with the seminal work from as early as 1982 until now, Theodore Kinni's retrospective on customer experience in the current issue of strategy + business magazine, is thought provoking and at the same time practical.
Kinni cites B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore's 1998 The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage in which the decoupling of "the experience from the service" in companies such as REI Outdoor stores - delivered "engaging and memorable experiences, which attracted droves of customers." Manufacturing companies sought to "experientialize" their goods, and the experience economy one ups the service economy in the ensuing era.
Marketing articles referenced include threads of consumer behavior (Holbrook and Hirschman) and Peter Drucker with "There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer", which leads into Bernd Schmitt's "There is only one valid definition of the purpose of marketing: to create a valuable customer experience".
Another building block towards where we are today is Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again. Lewis T. Carbone may have forged some of the early pillars of the social customer sentiment analysis - by categorizing "functional (or product), mechanical (or environmental) and humanic (people) clues" as the glue forming the customer experience.
Fast forward to 2010, and Kinni quotes from Lior Arussy's Customer Experience Strategy: The Complete Guide from Innovation to Execution taking a holistic view of the customer experience as "the total value proposition provided to a customer" and includes the product, as well as on time delivery, all interactions with the customer and emotional engagement -pre-sale, post-sale, etc.
Case examples Kinni points to are pretty textbook: GeekSquad, Tupperware, Disney - but some of the conclusions are more profound. Appointing a CCO (Chief Customer Officer) is an excellent first step; but don't be fooled into leaving it at that. A company culture must embrace this with more than just the new title of an executive, and begin the work of living, delivering, and designing what one aspires to be to one's customers.