The earliest part of the customer journey must be factored in and considered to be most important. It sets the tone for the remainder of the journey or the experience. We often add in unnecessary processes and hurdles to go through before starting the journey or sometimes value different steps to be more or less important.
I recently was excited to go to a beautiful spa. I was also treating a friend to a facial for her birthday. We walked in with a slight skip in our step, excited to check in for our treatments. As we approached the check in desk we joined a queue of at least 10 people. Are you kidding me? They told us to get here 15 minutes early, not 1 hour. 10 minutes later, we arrived at the actual check in desk which is about 12 feet away. The woman at the desk does not even look up, or greet us. She asks me for my credit card and loudly yells out the amount that I am paying. I ask her please can you not shout out what I am spending as this is a treat for my guest. That does not resonate with her. She then looks at me with a completely disinterested face. After what felt like an hour and a very painful check in, we get shuffled to another check point in the journey. Here we are greeted with music and a smile as we are given our robes and slippers.
By this point, I am stressed out. My journey did not start well. How can my experience be relaxing or finish well? I explain to the women at the next desk that I just had a horrid experience. I am really stressed out. All I want to do is to have my facial and pay at the end not the beginning and why does my guest need to know what it costs. The woman apologizes and explains, “this is their policy.” I suggested that it needs changing. She said she will feed that back to upper management.
By the time I get called in for my treatment, I am very annoyed. Now I am supposed to be relaxing. My treatment is good but all I can think about is how I was made to feel prior to entering the spa. I felt like I was a cattle being herded around. I felt like a number waiting to be called. It was mechanical, process oriented, there was no warmth or personal touch to the process at all.
I leave after a nice treatment but still feel annoyed enough to feedback to the Spa Director. She apologizes to me and offers me a free treatment when I come back. I feedback to her that that was my first experience at this spa and they need to make me feel different upon my arrival. Could they change the process slightly? Can they make you feel more welcome? Can they start the process of relaxation at the first touchpoint? She said she would take the comments into consideration. I gratefully accept the free treatment.
Two months later I returned to use my voucher. Once again, I walk excitedly to the check in desk. It’s going to be so good I think to myself. There is not a queue and there is only one other ahead of me. And then, it happens again. The same poor welcome. This time, my expectations were not as high. My treatment was good. However, I decide that I will not return to this spa.
Each part of the customer journey is critical. One might argue that the check in process could be the most important touchpoint in the overall journey. It sets the tone for the remainder of the experience.
Service Woe or Wow? You decide.