Colliding of customer journeys

Customer journeys that collide

Customer Journey Mapping as a tool to recognise the impact that an organisation has on its customers at key moments of truth has grown in popularity, but too little consideration is given to how one customer journey can influence another – or as in my own recent case how they can create a customer’s “moment of collision”! Is it possible for your company to benefit from helping your customer have a smoother journey with another supplier?

Diagram showing the impact of 3rd parties on your customers' journey. Produced by Customer Champions

Moments of collision

It is all too easy for companies to focus on the elements of a customers’ journey that they provide. But to really look at this from the customers’ viewpoint we need to consider that there are often multiple suppliers impacting that journey, and very possibly impacting the customers’ perception of all suppliers on that journey. During the recent purchase of a car I experienced a positive customer journey with the dealer ranging from the initial visit to the showroom, to test driving the car, placing the order, and then came the big day of collecting it.

In what I considered to be an independent journey; I have had a long lasting relationship with my high street bank and, as with most financial institutions, the journey had been a bit bumpy at times but overall was relatively smooth.

These two journeys collided with each other the day I collected my new car!

Having previously advised the bank that I would be paying for the vehicle that day, they refused to allow the payment to go through and accepted no responsibility or ownership to try and put this right. What was supposed to be an enjoyable day of collecting the new car turned into one of frustration, humiliation and disappointment. Now although I am not laying any blame at the doorstep of the car dealer, it is interesting to note that customers’ experiences are strongly influenced by organisations outside of one supplier’s direct control. Perhaps companies should pre-empt how they can help their customers in potential “moments of collision”. In this case could the car dealer learn from other customers’ experiences and share lessons learnt e.g. ‘other customers have experienced these kind of issues when purchasing their car and so therefore you may want to consider…’

Just imagine if one supplier was able to go the extra mile and help customers handle the experience with another supplier. Surely this would impact their perception of the company and can only ultimately result in further recommendations and profitable business.

With this experience behind me I started to think of many other occasions where there is an opportunity to mitigate for collisions between different suppliers’ customer journeys. Customer Champions’ work with airports has highlighted that there is actually very little of the total customer experience that can be directly controlled by the airport. From a customers’ perspective their travel or journey may well involve the following:

  • Getting tickets (Travel agent / online etc)
  • Booking car parking / taxis (Third party)
  • Travelling to the airport (own car or third party)
  • Parking / being dropped off (Airport)
  • Check-in with the airline (Airline)
  • Baggage handling (Third party)
  • Customs and Passport control (UK Border Agency)
  • Shopping / entertainment (Retailers, restaurants etc)
  • Travelling to the boarding gate (Airport)
  • Boarding experience (Airline)
  • Arrival at destination airport
  • Baggage / Customers / Transport at the destination airport

All of these will influence a customer’s view of how enjoyable their journey was, and will impact their choice of departure airport in the future, yet so little is under direct control of the airport itself. And then there is the return journey!

London 2012 was a great example of organisations considering how their customer journeys may collide. Within the Olympic Park there was frequent information on tube and train journeys with advice on how to best cope with any issues. On the London Underground Central Line staff took it upon themselves to provide updates on any successes for Team GB – again considering people’s total journey and not just their travel on the Tube, or attendance at an Olympic venue.

The opportunity for the collision of customer journeys seems to be at its greatest when it matters most to the customer, and where there is the potential for high stress levels. You only have to think of all of the parties involved in selling and buying houses, when on the day of the move everything has to come together. You not only have numerous suppliers such as estate agents, solicitors, finance companies and removal men, but everyone else in the house moving chain has their customer journeys to complete. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that we hear so many stories of collisions between customers’ journeys when house buying!

Collissions in the supply chain

In a B2B context consideration should be given to the complete supply chain and how the performance of one supplier can influence others. With clients within vertical industries rangimg from raw materials to manufacturers to installers, Customer Champions has firsthand experience of how the performance of one company can impact others both up and down the supply chain.

Companies should give consideration to not only the potential collission of customer journeys and how they can anticipate the impact, but also to the sharing of their customer feedback. It may well be that the root cause of a customer issue is based elsewhere in the supply chain. Working together can only be of benefit to all companies in the supply chain, which ultimately will deliver an improved end customer experience.

Avoiding the collision

With so much opportunity for “moments of collision” what can be done? When companies are defining their customer journey map thought needs to be given to identifying external third parties that may heavily influence your customers’ journey. Having identified these, consideration should be given to how you can help your customers smoothly transition from one supplier journey into another, and then possibly back to your own. If you can’t identify ways in which you can smooth these you have to accept that the possibility of a moment of collision will occur and potentially will have a negative impact on their perception of your business, even though logically it is not your fault.

Take the next step

If you would like to discuss mapping your customers’ journeys and the delivery of a memorable customer experience, please get in touch.

Further reading

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