A well-crafted story has a good beginning, a solid middle and a compelling end. You learn this much in school when creative writing becomes this great opportunity to craft your own narrative and storylines based on a bedrock of having read wonderful stories in books in your formative years.
For the record, I loved Flat Stanley (It has since had one of those CGI make-overs for television and so it might be ‘less good’ than the original) and then the books of Roald Dahl, as I progressed from my Oxford Reading Tree staples of ‘Biff, Chip and Kipper’. And whilst I may have lost my zest for reading books of fiction along the way – in favour of online blogs in their more digestible format and books of business – I appreciate the notion that a good start tees up a great middle and culminates in a fantastic end and that concept has staying power and transferable skills beyond the realms of literature.
I reference the above as a means to get to my middle of this article, it serves as a vehicle to draw parallels on what makes for an exceptional customer experience for me and for you. You see, a customer experience should not be about that one macro stage of an interaction with a brand. It is not just the purchase of an item, nor the attending of a concert or the booking of a holiday in that one moment, it is the end to end experience as plotted out on an invisible timeline of pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase events – laid out in series with the caveat that not all customer journeys are linear. Your customer experience – when plotted out in series – could look vastly different to mine but still end up at the ultimate destination of us both having been compelled.
It may be too cute to talk up a customer journey as an end to end piece when also discussing a train journey but by way of example, rail companies that get the customer journey and by extension – the experience – more than right are those that think of that actual physical journey as something beyond getting you from platform A to platform B.
A wealth of information exchanges, communications via email and SMS can and should all combine with the back-end piecing together of personalized data sets from the moment you land on their site to research train times and costs for your intended actual physical journey – whether the research and transaction take place on desktop or mobile device or tablet or not.
I know that when I use my preferred website for buying train tickets that I will get an email 24 hours ahead of my departure to remind me I need to catch a train, some destination weather forecasting and of course, an upsell opportunity or two for upgrading my class of travel or booking a partner hotel through their affiliate schemes. I know that when my train trip is underway I will get SMS alerts about any delays or disruption that may occur and by the time I get to my next London conference or check in to the hotel, my inbox will have a courtesy email seeking feedback and wishing me only the best of wishes for my day ahead.
It is more than a warm fuzzy feeling, it is the building of trust and a relationship with a reliable exchange of information, personalized communication and contextual updates from Pre-A to post-B on my physical journey. I appreciate the compelling nature of that good customer experience in all its good beginning, solid middle and compelling end.
What are your top examples of the customer journey being fully considered as part of your offering of a compelling customer experience for the end user?