Isn’t it funny how we tend to share more stories about bad experiences than good? Whether it’s online reviews or over drinks at happy hour, the less delightful things are frequently the focus. Maybe it’s because sharing details about poor customer service helps settle your frustrations. It could be that sharing how we’re angry or annoyed is simply more entertaining than buying something on-sale, without any trouble. Perhaps it’s to one-up our buddies by sharing the lousy occurrence we had and how it’s so much worse than theirs. I feel like this rant satiates at least two of those three, and like lots of fables of frustration, it’s inspired by my customer experience.

What is a customer journey?

I’ll admit, I take a poor customer experience a little more seriously than others. It might be because my marketing agency is specifically designed to help brands communicate with their target audience throughout their buying journey – in a way that’s delightful and ensures continuity across marketing channels. The Customer Journey Map is the backbone strategy we use to help your company do just that.

So, what is a customer journey map? The Harvard Business Journal has a dull description: “a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination.” I know, the textbook description is a bit bland. In 2011, Google shared a viral video that showed a disjointed customer journey that is a bit more entertaining. The goal is to develop a diagram to easily visualize the steps your consumers take to make a purchase. Google’s video is about a specific purchase, which is an easy way to tell the story. However, your journey map should include all the ways your audience interacts with your brand (online and offline) on their pathway to purchase. Pro tip: be specific, we say 3-foot level, most brands develop these strategies at the 30,000-foot level, which leads to awkward and clunky steps seen in the video.

What made me mad

My wife and I traveled to Las Vegas to see our daughter who recently graduated from UNLV, Go Runnin’ Rebels! During our visit, we decided to see 'O' from Cirque du Soleil, an original water show at the Bellagio. The show was rated one of the best things to do in Las Vegas, so we were thrilled to go see it! We ordered 3 tickets online, provided our credit card information and arrived 30 minutes before the 7:00 p.m. start time – only to abruptly run into a very long line of people. Thinking they are in line for something else, we walk to the front of the line (77 people, I counted), only to be told, this is the "O" line to pick up the tickets, you already ordered online. Now our positive customer experience has magically turned sour.  

Had Cirque du Soleil taken the time to do a simple customer journey map to connect their online ordering process to ticket delivery, they would have realized what a negative friction point they have in their customer experience. The vast majority of Americans own smartphones (77%, according to the Pew Research Center). Something as simple as an email ticket or a slightly fancier secure online ticketing process would have elevated the experience for 80 people (77 in line, plus my wife, daughter and I) within one hour. That’s just the ticket line experience. I would rant about all the other clunky steps – and missed opportunities, but I feel I made my point.  

prevent customers sharing bad reviews

Get more happy customers 

Bottom line, sometimes when you map out your customer's journey, your online analysis and channel mapping strategies can be quite complex, but remember our lives are complex. We now have the ability to interact with our target audiences (and consumers with your brand as well) in more ways than ever before. Reaching them is easy, but providing continuity in message and experience is far more difficult than simply placing content in the ether of the internet. Where most brands fall down is by not understanding or mapping all of the micro-journeys within your overall journey (measurement too, but that’s another topic in itself). As I said before, they stay at 30,000-feet, where the experience happens at 3-feet.

A basic, high-level Cirque du Soleil journey could be:

  1. Google search best things to do in Las Vegas
  2. Land on Cirque du Soleil Ticket Landing Page
  3. Buy Tickets
  4. Go to show
  5. Tell friends

Whereas the true customer experience at the micro-level includes:

  1. Google search best things to do in Las Vegas
    1. Find sea of entertaining activities
    2. Discover a compelling article or review for Cirque du Soleil
    3. Research times, dates, location, price
  2. Land on Cirque du Soleil Ticket Landing Page
    1. Select show
    2. Get directions
  3. Buy Tickets
    1. Select seat
    2. Enter credit card information
    3. Use promo code
  4. Go to show
    1. Nearby restaurants
    2. Valet parking
    3. Coat check
  5. Tell friends – Kind of what I’m doing now, right?

Yes, my vociferation may lead you to believe I didn’t have a good time, but that’s not the case. Our family really enjoyed spending time together. The 'O' show was amazing, but our negative customer journey watered down the experience. Don’t let that be your customer, and if you have questions on how to enhance their journey – I’m happy to help!