The Tyranny of the “Customer Journey”

I cover many miles in my working year and am now very familar with the various petrol stations on the routes radiating from Lincolnshire. In my travels, one of the most irritating new inventions of the retail designers is the “Customer Journey”.

The Customer Journey is an useful design concept in the web world to ensure that somebody using an online or multi-channel service gets a joined-up experience, alas more often in the talking than the execution. However, the designers laying out shop formats have now to make this a physical reality, taken to a level of absurdity by the constraints of some service station buildings.

For example, one petrol station I have visited many times used to be like this:

Customer Journey Part 1

Now it looks like this:

Customer Journey Part 2

By the introduction of a silly little metal gate and some plastic signage, they try to make people walk all round the shop so presumably they will suddenly discover they need an electric tyre inflator (only £2.99 with every 20 litres of petrol), or an overwhelming need to stock up on anti-freeze in July.

Maybe the incidence of casual purchases does rise with this type of shop format. However, it does feel much like the customers are treated as dumb cattle being led by the nice man down the corridor to the stunner and the sharp knives.

If other people feel the same way, then I think that the overall effect is probably exactly the reverse of that intended by the designers. Much like that perhaps when Edinburgh drivers rebelled against the disastrous City Centre Traffic Management Scheme which showed that all the modelling in the world is of no use if you do not take account of human quirks and cussedness.

On the first journey when I came across this particular “customer journey”, I clearly had too much time on my hands whilst driving home in the dark hours when I invented a riposte in the form of the Customer Service Self Feedback Form (or the Unhappy Voucher), which I present to you below.

Unhappy Voucher

Click on it, print a copy or two and give some unhappiness to the next person who treats you badly or whose company inflicts some lunacy upon you…

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