We often travel for the work that we do here at Akendi, so hotel and travel arrangements are nothing new to us. It becomes routine after a while, but once in a while I do encounter an odd situation that gives me pause to consider how things could be done better.
If you produce a product or service there are often a lot of little details that go into making a successful product and a good user and/or customer experience. It is often difficult to conceive of all the little touch points that might influence a customer’s experience and even more difficult to string together a series of touchpoints that your customers have to navigate every day.
Herein lies the value of experience mapping. Experience mapping or customer journey mapping gives you, as a product or service producer, greater insight into customer satisfaction at all the points along their journey as well as a chance to fill in any gaps that might be present between what customers expect and what you currently deliver.
Let me tell you a story.
One of our consultants needed to be onsite at a client’s office for a couple of days, the consultant in question doesn’t yet have his own corporate credit card, so I offered to pay for his travel and accommodation using my credit card. Anyone who has stayed at a hotel lately knows that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I went online to the hotel’s website and booked a room in the consultant’s name entering my name and credit card details as the payee. Seems simple right? Wrong, we’re not done yet. I happen to know that hotels require the credit card to be present at check-in, if it’s not you generally have to fill out a credit card authorization form. The website didn’t indicate in any way that such a form was required. So I called… and this is where my trouble started.
First, I got a central call centre for booking. The nice lady there told me I was absolutely right, I would need a credit card authorization form so she transferred me to front desk reception at the hotel. The nice man I spoke to there told me that yes, they had my reservation and confirmed that I would need a credit card authorization form. He kindly asked me to provide my fax number so he could send me the form…. Huh? A fax number?
OK, lots of people still use fax machines. We don’t.
I asked him if there was another way for me to get the form since I didn’t have access to a fax machine. Without missing a beat he said sure, he could email me a copy of the form. Great, we were in business. Unfortunately, he told me, the email is generated by an automated system and might take up to 24hrs to get to you.
In less than 24 hours I got the following email:
What!?!? “Due to security purposes we are unable to accept electronic copies”???
They were trying to force me to use antiquated technology… for my own safety and security. Why risk the security nightmare that email is, with it’s send and receive receipts and tracking when I can have the security of a piece of paper with my credit card number and ID lying around in a fax machine, for who knows how long, with only God knows how many people walking by. That wasn’t going to happen.
So… back on the phone. Once again calling in the hotel, whose IVR once again deposited me in some call centre. The nice lady with the Midwestern accent told me that she couldn’t answer my question and would have to transfer me to front desk. The nice man at front desk told me that he may be able to help me, but he would have to transfer me to reservations. After explaining for the third time that I didn’t have a fax machine, the lady nice lady in reservation told me that’s no problem at all I could just email it.
This is a simple thing, a small issue. But it resulted in a negative experience for me. Having someone else pay for a guest’s stay is common enough that the hotel has a form and an automated system to send it. Yet this touchpoint is so badly out of date, that it is giving erroneous and confounding information to me… the customer.
Customers take many different journeys, and have many different types of interactions with your business. I spoke to live people, I used an IVR, I had email correspondence. At each of those touchpoints there was an opportunity to delight me, or a chance to disappoint me. Only by getting into the shoes of your customers and user and understanding the nuances of their journeys can you hope to have a delightful interaction at every point on that experience lifecycle.
Dominira Saul is Chief Experience Architect at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design. To learn more about Akendi or get help mapping your member journey, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.akendi.com.
Akendi is a product strategy, user experience design and usability research firm. We are passionate about the creation of intentional experiences – whether those involve digital products, physical products, mobile, service or bricks-and-mortar interactions. We work shoulder-to-shoulder to optimize the experiences you deliver. Akendi Corporate Overview (PDF).
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