June 21, 2016 | Jason Veenker

What A Captain America Suitcase Can Teach You About The Customer Journey


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Suitcase Customer Journey

A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

The other day, my two-year-old son brought home his very first suitcase from the department store, excited for our upcoming trip to visit family. To my surprise, I was actually very impressed with the design of this particular piece of luggage. It was built with a slip on the back, enabling parents to turn the suitcase on its side and slip it onto a larger roller suitcase handle — similar to slipping your laptop bag or briefcase onto your roller. Brilliant!

Suitcase Customer Journey 2As much as I admire my son’s ambition, roughly 30 seconds into our jaunt through the airport that little dude will be done lugging his suitcase behind him. With this new piece of luggage, I now won’t have to awkwardly lean to the side to reach down and pull his suitcase behind me. Instead I’ll simply drop it on my own suitcase and we’ll be on our merry way. The design of this product is highly convenient, super easy, and demonstrates real thought about the use of the suitcase and the experience of having it with us on our travels.

Working for an organization that is pleasantly obsessed with customer experience, it’s hard not to think about the logic behind why products like a child’s Captain America suitcase are designed the way they are. This product was quite obviously designed with a very specific customer in mind. Had it been designed solely as a practical luggage solution, it might have included 18 different pockets to store uniquely-shaped travel items, with zippers and stitching aligned so perfectly it would be like slicing warm butter to open the suitcase itself. Those things would be ideal for packing, but packing is only half of the customer journey in this instance. This is a kid’s suitcase, and kids never travel alone; and rarely, if ever, do they pull their own suitcase for the entire trip. To focus on just the suitcase product and make it perfect for “packing” would be helpful, but that’s only one part of the journey. It’s the design of the slip on the back, and the part that it plays in the whole journey that matters most.

If you’re curious as to why this applies to CX professionals, it’s because it’s a tad frustrating to see so many organizations — that are focused on customer experience — fail to grasp the extremely important take-away that the designers of the suitcase cleverly anticipated: the need to think about the whole experience of the journey, not just “the packing” part. This is particularly true in digital customer experiences, which aren’t as easy to conceptualize as walking through an airport with your ambitious, superhero-loving kiddo and your luggage.

If we’re not thinking about our digital experience as a product that is “part of the journey,” we’re left to innovate the kind of zippers our website should have or how many pockets to include. We could completely miss what impact it has on the customer journey as a whole. Yet, to understand that impact, a highly rigorous measurement that shows where the digital experience fits into the whole customer journey across channels is required.

A digital experience (like a responsive website) is vastly more complex to design than a suitcase, let alone measure. Simple surveys with basic formulas, or even advanced formulas for analysis, just won’t cut it. If you ask people what their main priority is for a good piece of luggage, you’ll get the predictable responses that are specific to arbitrarily buying luggage, but it won’t reveal much about the customer’s journey. And decisions for valuable improvements must be based on the understanding of the customer journey data. The measurement must meet strict, scientific standards and requirements to be applicable across touchpoints and channels. It must also tell us where the customer will go and what they’ll do next in the journey. Only then can those digital improvements be made with certainty.

So while I tote a Captain America suitcase on the back of my roller this summer, I’ll be thanking the designers for making my trip more convenient. Also as a result of my experience, I’ll be recommending these types of suitcases to all my fellow colleagues and friends with small children. And that is the result every business should look for by understanding and improving the whole journey.

If you’d like to know more about our rigorous, scientific approach to measuring the customer journey and experience, check out our Multichannel Customer Experience Analytics page. If you’re interested in the suitcase mentioned above, I’d highly recommend it. It can be found here.

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About the Author

Jason Veenker is a passionate advocate for customer experience measurement and serves as a trusted adviser for improving financial customer experiences with ForeSee. He brings over 13 years of partnering with Fortune 500 organizations to help maximize their technology investments. Prior to ForeSee, Jason supported organizations with their strategic business and technology decisions, most recently with Gartner. He earned both his BS in Marketing and MBA through Azusa Pacific University.

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