When organizations “go digital,” there is often a certain euphoria around the new shiny object. This can take many forms, such as an app, an eCommerce site or a service automation. However, without proper planning and consideration of the customer journey, many of these initiatives can create more heartache than pleasure. As my wife says, “when digital goes bad, it goes horribly wrong.”

When digital goes wrong…

The main culprits of a bad digital experience seem to revolve around:

  • Lack of adequate human interaction or staff training
  • Digital done in isolation (i.e. not integrated with the regular or analog system)
  • Incongruous programming
  • Technology failure (eg bug, breakage)

Often, companies will be most attentive to whether the technology functions correctly. The truth is that technology will bug — especially at the outset. Thus, it is important to have contingency plans. [Think about when your GPS no longer works and having the directions on hand the old-fashioned way]. However, fixing the technology is usually the simplest matter. It is the first three problems listed above that can cause greater challenges and disruption.

A customer journey not thought through

The (otherwise gorgeous) Alhambra in Granada managed to accomplish 3 of the 4 mis-steps cited above in one smooth move; the only thing it was not, was a technological failure!

Alhambra Customer Journey Experience Disaster, the myndset digital strategyHaving dutifully gone online at our hotel to book tickets on AlhambradeGranada.org, the site conveniently told us to collect our tickets with our credit card at a kiosk at the main entrance. With consummate ease, indeed, my wife, 15-year-old daughter and I arrived well in advance and, as planned, we were pleasantly surprised as the kiosk immediately printed out our three tickets.

Going through the motions

Alhambra tickets Granada customer journey - the myndset digital strategy

You have to queue to get a bar code for the “kid” ticket (right)

Expecting to breeze into the Alhambra campus to visit the secondary sites ahead of our 7pm entry to the main palace, we were informed with the greatest of disdain that we still needed to do the queue! This meant waiting in an excruciatingly hot line (38C) for nearly an hour. No one was interested in the notion that we were supposed to be able to go in automatically. Most aggravating, no one was equipped to provide a reason for this turn of events. Customer service was not available. The guards of the queue were “doing their job.” When we finally got to the counter, hot and impatient, our comments were brushed off by an unsympathetic desk clerk. All in all, the Alhambra personnel were going through the motions, without emotion (or empathy). The whole experience shows just how important it is for management to consider the customer journey when integrating digital into an analog world.

Read the small print?

What we discovered was that we needed to present documentation to prove our daughter was 15 years old in order to warrant a 5.50 euro discount (hardly worthwhile for a hour wait in the heat). Once her age had been verified, a missing bar code was added to her ticket. When revisiting the Alhambra site, after the fact, we did find, in small print after scrolling down to the very bottom of the page, a pithy section marked “IMPORTANT”.

Alhambra Customer Journey Experience Disaster, the myndset digital strategy

 ”People who purchase discounted tickets must certify that they are eligible to this discount.”

Notwithstanding the English mistake (eligible for, not to this discount…), this was a very ‘convenient’ answer. As Bill Maher said in his rather sharp-tongued show (Episode 326), this is a case of small print service. For starters, the text of “discounted tickets” is not exactly how I would have labelled tickets for kids. And, most importantly, the terminology doesn’t exactly make clear that certification means waiting in line (in stifling heat) along with everyone else needing to purchase tickets at the booth. If we had access to the data, I’d love to see what proportion of people purchase “discounted tickets”?

The moral of the story:

Had Alhambra management properly thought through the customer journey — of what must be a fairly common customer group (parents with children) — they would have made some or all of the following adjustments:

  1. At a minimum, clearly warn customers online of the need to queue to show proof of age
  2. At the automatic kiosk at the entrance, provide a warning message that tells customers that the presence of ‘discount tickets’ means you will need to wait in line…
  3. Educate all staff on the policy and, ideally, offer customer service
  4. Create a separate line to treat the age or “discount” issue (ex: have an alert go off for a security guard to verify at the turnstile).

And, on a separate note, it might be worth warning people that the Alhambra site is not handicap friendly, another customer group that is surely interested in visiting. Of note, there is a ‘discount price’ at -33% for the disabled. The Alhambra Practical Guide section is bereft of any consideration for the physically impaired unlike, for example the Metropolitan Museum in NY. If the Alhambra campus is not handicap friendly, then at least say so! There is no FAQ whatsoever and, when I finally found mention of people with disabilities, it was again snuck away on the bottom of another page (here).

Mapping the customer journey

For all sorts of organizations faced with the digital transformation of their business, the exercise of walking in the customers’ shoes and experiencing the customer journey through the off- and online components will serve to help improve the customer experience. Of course, the first port of call is having the mindset to actually want to provide a good customer experience. Ideally, the folks sitting in the Alhambra back office will take stock of this post and other online gripes. {Please take note, Alhambra management!} But, for all others who are dealing with the issues of digital transformation and digital integration, the main message is to take note of the importance to map out clearly the customer journey. {Tweet this!}

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