Tag Archives: customer journey mapping

Think Small to Win Big in Customer Experience

19 Aug

20 cultural nudges for any organisation to keep it real

Words like ‘transformation’ are scary, right? And yet CEOs are always being told that ‘Customer Experience’ is ‘transformational’. Well, maybe, but we also need to get real, and recognize that customer experience is also about delivering today – a journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step and all that, so here then is my list of the smaller, more palatable steps to start that journey within the organisation.


  1. Join the dots: ensure that everyone in the organization has a deep understanding of the bigger picture, why this is important and how their own role’s contribution to the customer experience.
  2. Make the vision real: have everyone know what it means to live the brand for your customers and deliver the company’s uniquely branded experience.
  3. Follow the money: connect the cogs to understand the ROI of customer experience and how it drives the bottom line for the business.Start small, even with anecdotes and stated intentions, then track actions.


  1. Don’t call it a project or an initiative: they suggest a here-today-gone-tomorrow mindset, an open invitation for cynics to keep their heads down and hope it all blows away like so many other initiatives.
  2. Look outside: admire and learn from the best in the world, whatever the sector, but especially not your own.
  3. Create and evangelize success stories: find, learn from, tell and celebrate stories of great customer experiences delivered.
  4. Get on the floor: get executives and leaders to spend time with and learn from the front-line via real, not stage-managed interactions, and role model new behaviours.
  5. Outlaw silo’d thinking: be alert to call out ‘back office’, ‘head office’ and functional thinking and look for ways to reinforce the mantra, It Only Works When It All Works.
  6. Get on first name terms with personas: create rich and insightful customer personas and put them in all your rooms to watch over – and challenge – decision making.
  7. Change meeting etiquette: start every meeting with a customer story, end every meeting by asking ‘what’s in it for our customers?’


  1. Set the tone on day one: embed customer learning into new hire inductions to build customer empathy. Learning about internal processes comes later.
  2. Create internal advocates: make it easy for everyone to be advocates of the brand and – wherever possible – active users of the product.
  3. Harness employee power: find ways to make their voice heard, use their knowledge, experience, insights and energy to improve the customer experience.
  4. Recognise and reward, quickly and easily – find simple and informal ways to call out and celebrate great delivery. Hand written notes can make a huge difference.


  1. Talk to customers: yes, I know. Obvious, right. Get leaders to ring lost customers, make visits and generally connect one to one with the customer. Invite them to internal conferences and generally find ways to bring them in and learn from them.
  2. Close the loop: on the other hand, don’t talk to them, unless you’re prepared to act on what you learn, and change things for the better. And never forget to them what you’ve done. Doing this can work wonders, and it creates a halo effect too.
  3. Give the benefit of the doubt: if in doubt, err on the side of the customer, and make sure your internal policies help not hinder customers.
  4. Have some respect: Change the language. Customers are people, not targets and stop asking ‘who owns the customer’? (The answer is, if anyone owns anyone these days, it’s your customers who own you.)
  5. Give to get: find small and spontaneous ways to surprise, thank and delight customers, and create positive memories and stories.
  6. Be social media savvy: recognize that great customer experiences are the best marketing there is today, so fix things super-fast.

Alfred Hitchcock, the subversive master of customer experience

27 Nov

This is a great piece from Wired magazine, about the Hitchcockian dark art of audience management, (what, in this case, we would call customer experience management) as practised by the master, Alfred Hitchcock, the subject of a new film about the making of Psycho, soon to hit the screens.

Hitchcock, the auteur-director was as obsessive about stage-managing the film’s exhibition and reception, as he was about pre-planning every detail of production (he was 

Psycho (film)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

famous for story-boarding almost every shot in advance so that he had already ‘seen’ the film before it was filmed).

 This article gives some great insights into how he crafted the audience’s viewing experience of Psycho, to create the ultimate ‘customer experience’, a terrified audience (and, hopefully, wet seats, an early ‘success measure’ he used in the theatres!)

  So, without ‘spoiling’ the story – click here to read  – the first point “Spoiler Paranoia” is a great example of just how far he was prepared to go to ensure that the audience was (literally) in the dark about what they were about to see.

As well as recognising the marketing and sales potential of word of mouth, he was also a master in the art of managing expectations, and the well-timed publicity stunt. As the article says, he produced  a “Manual for Theatre Goers” warning about the dangers of heart attacks that might occur while watching his film” and hired nurses to be on hand at some cinemas.

 I’ve read some of this guidance material before. He also asks that no one be admitted after the film had started, and also that people watch the entire film, through to the end.  

 All good examples of holistic customer experience: here is a director managing every single detail, right down to how to watch the film, in order to maximise audience enjoyment. And proof too that ‘the devil is in the detail’ when it comes to the art of customer experience management. Probably a phrase Hitchcock would personally have approved of too.


‘Falling down’ meets bad customer service. Great short film.

23 Nov

Remember Michael Douglas in Falling Down?

Well, if his beef had been with a call centre, perhaps it would have gone a little like this. Here is a great short film (very cool production values too!) from Sam Kaplan and Michael Williams on the perils of ‘BCS’, that’s Bad Customer Service, to you and me.

Cover of "Falling Down"

Cover of Falling Down

I’ll let the film-makers’ own intro on their site speak for itself:

“The customer service representative hits us at our most vulnerable.  When we are in need of help, when desperation is upon us, when whatever crucial tool of our modern existence has failed us, that  is the moment when BCS inevitably pounces. And so we determined to make a statement about BCS and broadcast it to one and all”.

And, yes, as they say, there is a serious point behind all this too. The fact is, none of us voluntarily chooses to ring up a call centre. When we do, we need help now, and yes, we are indeed often feeling pretty vulnerable too. If you track the highs and lows of a  typical call centre experience – broken down into its constituent parts; waiting; navigation; human contact – it can indeed be an emotional roller-coaster ride. While doing a Michael Douglas may be a tad extreme, you can at least enjoy this film!

Click here to watch the Please Hold Film – Home.

Is your customer experience a Victorian penny dreadful or the greatest story ever told?

21 Nov

I remember reading a great paper from a few years ago in the Journal of Service Research, called “Service Design for Experience Centric Services” that talks about the

English: A Penny Dreadful featuring Dick Turpin

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

similarities between customer experience and plays, novels and films. The main point being to think about and design customer experience as ‘theatre’, and consider the dramatic flow and progression (the start, middle and end) of the customer journey as interactions occur.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about disciplines like customer journey mapping; the paper says we typically tend to remember the high and low points, and the ending, how you feel at the interaction’s conclusion. I would emphasise the word, ‘feel’ here, because it is our emotional response to customer experiences that will stay long with us after the mechanics – the nuts and bolts – of an interaction are long forgotten.

The sad fact is that doing business with companies can often feel like you’re the victim in a lurid Victorian penny-dreadful novel, a sorry tale of seduction, then abandonment. In the relentless hunt for new customers, existing ones tend to be forgotten. After the pursuit and wooing, the honeymoon is over all too soon, and then neglect can set in and current customers can too easily feel forgotten, and, worst of all, not recognised.

All this serves to illustrate the importance of thinking holistically about the total customer experience, and recognising that the experience is cumulative; it builds and builds over time.

So, consider how you orchestrate the dramatic flow of the experience, and how each interaction should add to the customer’s overall perception, and narrative; after all, better for the customer to be starring in the greatest (customer experience) story ever told, than the victim in a penny dreadful.

For a link to the journal, or to buy the paper, click here

Apple unboxed

19 Nov

Apple is rightly legendary for the love and passion its products create. Steve Jobs once said, you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology, and we all know about his relentless attention to detail.

This is reflected in a trend for new proud owners to film themselves unpacking their new purchases. The attached, from thenextweb.com  is a ‘best of’ compilation of exactly such films, this one from last year focused on the ipad 2.

It’s a nice example of the old dictum, the devil is in the detail. Clearly Apple are world class at thinking through the total experience, right down to the box and packaging, and the whole  process of unpacking and exploring your new product.

Two good lesson then for customer journey mappers :

  • Every single detail counts, no detail is too small, and the devil really is in the detail
  • Don’t underestimate the ‘theatre’ of the experience – the emotion created at the each step of the journey, and the ‘dramatic arc’ of exploration from beginning to end


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