Exceptional customer experiences consider the full customer journey

A well-crafted story has a good beginning, a solid middle and a compelling end. You learn this much in school when creative writing is a great opportunity to craft your own story-lines and in the reading of wonderful stories in your formative years.

For the record, I loved Flat Stanley and 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 books of business and online blogs in their more digestible format, I appreciate the notion that a good start tees up a great middle and culminates in a fantastic end. That concept has staying power and transferable skills beyond the realms of literature.

“A customer experience should not be about that one macro interaction with a brand.”

I reference the above as a means to get to the middle of this article. It serves as a vehicle to draw parallels on what makes for an exceptional customer experience. A customer experience should not be about that one macro 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. It is the end to end experience, as plotted out on an invisible timeline of pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase events. Your customer experience — when plotted out in series — should look different to mine but still end up at the ultimate destination of us both compelled.

It may be too cute to talk up a customer journey as an end to end piece when also discussing a train journey. By way of example, rail companies that get the customer journey and by extension — the overall experience — more than right are those that think of the actual physical journey as something beyond getting you from platform A to platform B.

You should expect a wealth of timely and relevant information exchanges. Communications via email and SMS, as they combine with the back-end piecing together of personalized data sets. This experience should happen from the moment you land on their website to research train times and costs for your intended actual physical journey, even if the research and transaction take place on desktop or mobile device, or a combination of devices.

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. I will receive destination weather forecasting and of course, an up-sell 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. 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 for my day ahead.

It is more than a warm fuzzy feeling. It is the building of trust and a relationship based on 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?