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Analysing customer experience (CX) in the real world

Tony Owner 1st Jul, 2015
Road in countryside with snow on it

Over the long weekend – and for the opening of the ski season – a group of us made the journey to Marysville, in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. A picturesque country town that was decimated by the Black Saturday fires back in 2009, it is incredible to see the redevelopment that has taken place.

Our plans to visit Lake Mountain for some snow fun and tobogganing were all set for Saturday. The snow gods had been kind delivering a week of perfect conditions … and snow. 

Around 9 in the morning our group of 8 adults and 12 kids descended upon the local ski hire shop to get kitted out, and it was here that the first of three memorable customer experiences took place. 

Two of these were great but one certainly had not been thought through (at least not from the customer’s viewpoint!). Whilst working in the UX/CX field might add to the attention these experiences draw, it only does so from the perspective of realising how easy it is to impact an experience with minor changes to how we think. Putting the customer at the centre should always be the starting point.

Customer experience 1: The ski hire shop

The hire shop was inundated with kids and parents all looking to get in and out as quickly as possible, yet what initially looked like chaos materialised into the easiest process you could imagine. Every ‘group’ was allocated a staff member who walked clipboard in hand from boots, to toboggans, to clothing, chatting non-stop and delivering recommendations and tips. 

As anyone with young children knows, you don’t hang around waiting for them to make a decision on whether the pink, blue or green toboggan will be the fastest. The staff had considered this and the resulting outcome was slick.

Racks of skis in ski shop

Customer experience 2: Mountain entry

One of the ‘advantages’ of purchasing your mountain entry pass at the bottom is, in theory, that when you get to the gate you don’t need to queue while those in front wait to see if tap-n-go is working today or if they have cash. However, this concept only works if the team manning the gates opens another lane! Suffice to say this wasn’t one of the better experiences on the day.

Customer experience 3: Ski resort car park

Arriving at the top, we found a sea of cars but plenty of attendants herding us in. Upon exiting the car, every group was individually greeted by a super friendly guest services team member. They provided us with a terrific summary of current and expected weather conditions, what special activities were planned for the day and tips on getting around. It only took a few minutes but delivered exactly the right amount of relevant information and left a really positive impression even before the first snowball was thrown!

skiers on mountain

Summary: Thinking ahead in your customers’ shoes

The ability to put yourself in your customer’s shoes sounds like a pretty simple thing to do – and in many respects it is. However, it requires a mindset that allows for it to be a natural part of your process, from beginning to end, no matter whether you are designing a product or offering a service.

They say great (service) design doesn’t live inside designers – it lives inside your customers’ heads. So the next time you find yourself in a position where you will be interacting with or designing for a customer, ask yourself this simple question, “What would I expect if that was me?” Address that, and half the battle is already won.

About The Author

Tony Owner

Tony joined U1 Group in 2014 as Group Account Director and is now an Owner of the business. Tony has been at the intersection of research and technology for over two decades. In 1997, he co-founded the digital market research and audience measurement firm Red Sheriff and conducted world-first user testing online. Tony is passionate about collaborating with clients to help uncover growth opportunities and deliver a far superior customer experience.


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