Customers are just part of the process, not the journey


Journey won 8 awards including Game Of The Year at the DICE conference this week, an accolade which was well deserved for a number of reasons. You control a solitary figure and guide it through a personal story, along the way meeting the occasional lone figure who is controlled by another over the net. But there is no interaction save the ability to ‘sing’ a note and run/ jump. You don’t even get to see an avatar name, they are briefly just part of your journey to the end of the game.

Now what the hell has this got to do with process and customers you might think. Well, let’s just dig a little deeper. The game manages to convey and elicit an emotional response from you towards the character you control and others you meet. You are woven in the story, essentially a linear process, and despite never hearing or seeing just who you’re interacting with sharing that process actually brings an empathic context.

And here’s the real issue behind customer service, customer experience management and all the other methods claiming to elicit delight from the consumer: none are empathic, none bring emotional context, and all just place the customer in the middle of a process but never a journey.

Read the email received from a player at the end of this article. When did anyone ever send something like that when they were forced through an IVR led process to toneless customer service agent at the other end ? Customers have names, faces, records, a voice, in fact everything that is missing from Journey and yet what they experience from organization’s process is almost completely the reverse. In fact there is more content and stimuli received during a process because of (so-called) human interaction but what happens in reality is that all emotional context is removed because it’s a process. It’s not a journey, and it shouldn’t feel like an arduous one at that.

The customer experience is the journey

When we design processes we focus too much on the end goal, get the customer through it as quickly as possible and give them what they want. But it cuts out so much context, it carves and discards the empathy, we assume that ‘delight’ and ‘satisfaction’ means speed and efficiency. We are wrong. The processes are wrong.

Customer Experience Management should be about the journey, not the process. Perhaps then you’ll deserve to win awards like Journey did.



2 responses to “Customers are just part of the process, not the journey

  1. TP I can’t say its just about the journey. What appears to the customer must be like the journey but what happens in the backend must be a rigorous and flexible process capable of handling any customer requests. We are in the business for the right customers and sometimes its better losing the wrong customer than extending to yourself to accomodate wrong customers. 80/20 and eliminate and enjoy working for the right people

  2. Unfortunately with too many companies, what should be a pleasant journey is oftentimes a treacherous obstacle course. Just a few moments ago, I made an attempt to cancel a dinner reservation I had made on line. I will not bore others with the details, but suffice it to say I was forced to create an account, jump through many hoops, and still was unable to cancel the reservation. I said screw it and sent an email to their corporate HQ. I do not expect a real response other than telling me that “my business is important to them.” Its the little things – like a nail in the road or a stone in your shoe – that ruin a pleasant journey.

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