What makes a logical Customer Journey?

Illustration by Keeping Studio

Illustration by Keeping Studio

It seems like a no-brainer. Of course you would make your customer’s journey the simplest it could possibly be, especially if it comes at next to no expense.

All it requires is a good understanding of your audience, and a strong knowledge of what you are offering them.

Know your audience

Reaching the point that you can define your audience clearly enough to get involved at the right moment, seamlessly deliver, and step back until the next time - is difficult.

Speak to them.

We all feel like we know what our customers want, but we are looking at their preferences through our own bias. And we often see all of their “wants” as an opportunity to make money, rather than a chance to make their experience better.

If an airport spoke to their customers, they might find some very quick wins. Ones that wouldn’t cost them a penny perhaps, but would multiply their customer satisfaction ten-fold.

We’ve all been waiting to board a plane, before hearing an announcement say “please can rows fifteen and above now make their way to the gate”.

The natural next step is for everyone, whether they are on rows fifteen and above or not, to stand up and make their way to the plane.

If the intruders’ plot is spoilt, then they’ll be asked to stand to the side and await their turn. At best, we have a bottleneck forming. At worst, we have to wait thirty minutes for the imposters who got through to sit down.

My reckoning is that, if an airport did a survey, they’d quickly find that it’s these moments that they could help their customers simply and effectively.

Solve their problems

So, what would I be doing to fix this issue?

It’s quite simple. Make their boarding experience more logical and efficient.

Humans have a short attention span. Some more than others, but I don’t feel I’m being controversial to suggest that everyone would take a simple, quick experience over a slow and tedious one.

As soon as you give human subjectivity too much scope to explore their own solutions, you are going to witness multiple outcomes.

Perhaps they would work in isolation, but together they cause friction and confusion. And this removes the ability to offer tailored advice and support — because no one experience is the same as the next.

We could make more money if we gave the customer back their satisfaction, and offered bonus’ along the way. Rather than making them pay for the privilege of an average experience.

Aim to remove variance and more people will get to their desired outcome, and they’ll be happy when they do.

What if the airport got us to sort ourselves, before boarding the plane? And without scope for variance?

Move the boarding pass check to before the waiting room. In some airports, that’s where the check already is.

Then, have the seats labelled chronologically in the same numbers as the plane you’re about to board. Use a digital screen to tailor the numbers based on the plane.

If you’re on seat 100F, you wait to board closest to the gate so you can walk through the plane first. If you’re seat 1A, you wait to board furthest.

With these simple modifications to the existing experience, the announcement can become “please can everyone make their way to the gate, starting from the front and moving backwards”.

Quite quickly, everyone would make their way onto the plane and shuffle to their allocated seat.

What does this mean?

Now, I appreciate that this wouldn’t work everywhere and isn’t going to be possible in some cases. It’s also not something I ever expect to see, and I have taken some details for granted.

However, the question it raises is “what could I do to improve my customer journey?”.

My advice is, have a think for thirty seconds. Think of the most recent customer you spoke with, and what they came to you for. Then ask:

  • How could you make it that bit more logical, simple, and effective?

  • How could you remove variance from the possible outcomes, whilst still giving them what they want?

  • How could provide as few journeys as possible to the desired outcome, without reducing the service you offer?

  • What is it that they want, really?

These are just some of the questions that I ask our clients every day.

I'm constantly having to make myself more comfortable with challenging our clients on whether what they're doing is right, or if it's just the idea they had ten years ago; unchanged.

Being able to look back and reflect on where the business has come from is a mark of success in its own right.

Just remember, it doesn’t mean you’re doing everything right. Having the confidence to truly assess ourselves is something we all need to work on.