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Rachel's Reflections - our customer's journey is part of our why

Our customers are at the front of all we do, without them we would not exist in our businesses. This is true of any business, organisation, community group, charity or department. Our purpose is in some form or another to serve a customer.

But sometimes we forget that, we forget that someone is relying on us to provide something, we forget that it matters to their role and what they do or think or need.

Over the last week I have been reminded of this in many ways and I am glad I have been because it ensures I reflect on my customers and what they need or want from us. We don’t always get it right, who does 100% of the time but we do all need to step back and remember our WHY in terms of those that buy our services.

My three reminders came from very different places in the last week or so and I want to share them with you so you can see and hopefully relate to the message:

A popular London attraction – run by a huge corporate organisation with 110 attractions around the world.

We took our little boy because he had done so well with his first year at school and we were looking forward to it. That is until I consulted TripAdvisor for some tips on how to plan the day and I was so surprised at the feedback.

I didn’t want to let that spoil our day or lower our expectations so I closed my mind to it as best I could. But they have lost their way when it comes to the customer experience/journey. A frightful £60 per person if you pay in full for basic entry but for that you can expect to spend a large part of your day in queues. If you are willing to pay another £30 per person you can queue jump which seems unfair on those that can’t afford to pay an additional £120 for an average family of four.

They have set up each ride with a screen letting you know the average waiting time, great idea but in terms of customer journey it just doesn’t work. Those screens are not up to date and don’t allow for any delays so on average we found the waiting time was at least another 15 minutes per ride, in one case it was double the 35 mins it advertised.

Because these don’t work you can’t plan very easily to attend the brilliant shows scattered around the park and so you feel like you are missing out again.

One of the other highlights we expected was for Finley to meet some of his favourite characters as he had seen smiley children on the tele do, but no they are only there some of the time and not all that often from what I can gather.

All in all whilst we had a lovely day, the business analyst part of my brain couldn’t ignore that it felt that the senior management could do with spending some time walking around, visiting the rides, listening to customers instead of trying to down play the length of the queue and keep us all trying.

After all, when you are trying to sell annual passes on the day, that day needs to be so special you need a pass.

A florist – A two person very small and local business was another example of losing touch with what you customers need and want.

Having heard good reviews, I had a look at the website and was not that impressed myself with the imagery used to reflect the offering and instantly I wasn’t so sure myself about whether I would use them or not.

Then came an example of some of their work and again I was really surprised that they could get away with charging average floristry prices which for what, quite frankly, the buyer could have put together better themselves.

And then the real shocker, overhearing, I was surprised to learn that their view on quality was that you didn’t need to pay the prices for a professional to do it, you could buy the stuff cheap and do it yourself.

A little aghast that someone who had been through training, become a professional and was charging professional prices was now of the belief that you could do it yourself with sub quality products.

Oh dear…. How far detached is this person from their customer and why they are there. I can’t say I know anyone who would buy their wedding flowers or worse yet those flowers for a loved one’s funeral that would take the same stance.

A mental health assessment ward – sadly I was visiting a family member who has been quite poorly and was being assessed for what has turned out to be vascular dementia. More sadly I observed yet another example of people becoming detached from their customers.

After all a patient in the care of doctors is just another form of customer.

What I found most sad is that even though the doctors and nurses are brilliant at what they do, that they know their jobs, they have just become detached from the needs of the patient and their family.

As a patient, our family member has been looked after, I have no doubt about that. But what has not been done in terms of service is advising family and the patient about what to expect, what is happening, what will happen next.

In fact, they have become so used to looking after the patients that they didn’t explain what can and can’t be taken in for the patient, where the patient can and can’t go and how to make the stay as easy as possible.

In addition, they seem to have forgotten that for the loved ones the assessment is long and daunting, that they don’t know what to expect, that they want to visit. We were surprised to have been told, ‘oh, go on, live your lives, he’ll be here and looked after, you don’t need to think about it’.

We do need to think about it, we do worry and our lives are not moving forward in the same way they normally would because our loved one is ill and we don’t know why.

So, three strong examples of how detached we can all become from the people we choose to serve. It’s not intentional, I don’t believe that at all, but I do believe we need a reminder every now and then about why we do what we do and how we can support those paying or needing the service.

So what steps can you take this week to look at your customers journey and how you might make it just a little bit better?

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