As a teenager, I remember having that large black framed motivational poster with long wooden rustic bridge leading into a foggy abyss stating, “It’s about the journey, not the destination”. Honestly, when you think in the context of travel,sometimes the “journey” is really a means to an end, and its totally about the“destination” you are travelling to. But occasionally, when the journey itself is unexpectedly a standout amazing one, we talk about it, to everyone, anyone that will listen.
Often, we’ve been surprised by an experience we never saw coming throughout our journey. It made us feel so damn happy, so lucky, so grateful, so loved. It made us laugh out loud and smile, a lot. It connected us to others and felt it so good.
When we think about the journey that we want our customers to take, these standout experiences rarely just happen by accident. They must be thoughtfully woven in to the design of your customers experience - at every touch point a customer might have with your business.
On a recent trip from Australia to Europe, transiting via London Heathrow for a few hours one Monday morning I found myself surprised by the customer experience throughout while on this 24-hour literal “journey”.Heathrow is number 7th busiest airport in the world, with 1300 flights per day and up to 250,000+ passengers passing through daily, that’s 78 million passengers per year. That’s a substantial number of customers to consider! It was the combination of many cleverly designed factors that struck me. The normal frantic-ness of people running back and forth replaced by this overwhelming sense of calm. I then realised this was from lack announcements which had been replaced by many accessible visual displays of flight listing, along with times the listings would be displayed to keep the passengers relaxed about when to expect gate announcements, hence adding to the overall calm. In addition, there were plenty of UK known and loved trusted retail brands and eateries. Again, a sense of popular, familiar and expected brands, which particularly when it comes to eating prior to a flight is comforting. Other factors included an improved, clear and friendly security clearance service (which is often not optimal for those that travel often can appreciate), free and fun kids play rooms and excellent airline lounges including, both paid and for frequent flyers. Each experience singularly is expected, but it’s the combination of all of them overall that makes it something worth writing about.
Like many industries, the air travel industry is full of choice and loyalty isn’t as strong as it used to be – as a result, airlines are continuously innovating to stay competitive and refine their service to customers. So too when we think about our customers across all industries, and as their businesses scale and grow, are merged and acquired, services outsourced and re centralised, often these touch points and experiences are just too complex and frustrating for their customers. As business leaders we need to be on the front foot of continuous service design improvement, review the journey and touch points we have with our customers. Importantly we need to ensure that all employees understand how important each of them understands how their touch plays an important part of an overall customer experience.
We need to listen to our customers, and look at their journey from their point of view, not our internal biases. Ask yourself, when did you last truly listen without bias, look at your competitors as if you were a customer and then compare to your company? Talking to to a diverse group of customers regularly to assess you are still connecting and relevant– afterall, even if you’re not changing, you can be sure that your competitors are and what you ‘thought’ was the right journey may have changed around you. Ask yourself ‘how can you be the journey and the destination’?