Written by: Beth Richardson
“Focus on the whole journey, not just the transaction”. In the world of Customer Experience (CX) you will hear this phrase frequently. But what does it mean?
It’s the difference between a task and a purpose. The difference between a user story like the one above, and meeting a customer’s overall goal. It is important to understand the difference between the two, because how you frame the interaction determines how your customer will experience it.
This is perhaps best illustrated with an example:
You are a lifelong customer of Locality Bank. Your parents took you in to the bank open your first account when you were a child, and you remember how you felt when a moneybox was presented to you as a thank you.
Your dealings with the bank over the years have always been consistent, efficient and straightforward. You don’t usually give banking too much thought, often using online services. It just happens in the background.
But recently you decided to strike out on your own and start a business. This is new and uncharted territory, and you are looking for help to get started. Locality Bank are the first people that spring to mind. You phone them to make an appointment – you don’t want to leave anything to chance.
The person who answered was fantastic. She knew exactly what you were looking for, apparently quite a few customers are in the same boat, so they have put a package together just for people like you. She invited you to come in , walk through how everything works, then decide which elements will work best for you. She knew you had been with them for years, so they know you pretty well. There will be very little form filling, and lots of talking about your business and what excites / worries you most about starting up.
The person who answered was polite and efficient. She asked if you would like an appointment to see a new business adviser. You asked whether that was the best thing, but she didn’t have any other options, so you booked an appointment anyway. She promised to send a pack in the post which you can fill in and bring along. It will help the Bank assess your suitability for a business account. You felt a little unsettled by this. What if they can’t help? If you can get through this stage, it’s another step towards your little business getting up and running, but you will look at other options just in case.
Scenario 1 leaves you reassured, and looking forward. Scenario 2 leaves you anxious and looking for a plan B .
We’ve all encountered these scenarios, where we’re left feeling a certain way by one supermarket/airline/store/bank and completely different by another. It’s something you can’t put your finger on, but it makes you feel…something.
So why the difference?
In scenario 1, the business understood this customer’s whole journey. The history of the relationship, their context right now (nervous excitement), and their goal (I want to start my own business, I need help to understand how it works). It was efficient and easy, but it went beyond the transaction and delivered the total experience – which was reassuring, empathetic and human. Almost as if they were standing beside this customer when she made the call.
In scenario 2, the business focused purely on delivering an efficient, easy transaction for their customer. The customer’s goal is likely to have been framed as “I want to make an appointment to speak to a new business adviser”. Nothing wrong with this – efficient and easy is the foundation of a good customer experience – but they were looking at the wrong goal…
It was all about the bank, not the customer. The experience was functional, and process-driven, and left this customer feeling unsettled.
Customers are human. We all have complex brains. When I set out for the supermarket I can be very task focused and impatient; I want to get in and out quickly (rational). But I also equate food with home, and making people happy (not so rational).
Perhaps what I am really looking for is kudos from the family – a hugely effective distraction from price labels, and the reason why I often come out of the supermarket without the items I went in for (completely irrational).
So how do we avoid falling into the trap of designing purely functional journeys which miss the point for customers? Map the journey. From the customer’s point of view. Journey mapping is a brilliant method of stepping back from the minutiae and seeing the whole picture:
- Get close to customers, in the moment. This helps you to understand how customers think (and ex-customers, and near-miss customers)
- Decide how you want your customers to feel, and what you want them to say about you. What does your brand stand for?
- Use journey mapping to show where you are hitting the mark, or not.
Journey mapping helps to clear the mist, so you can design interactions with purpose, which meet their true goals and deliver the total experience.
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