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CLASS 02 One way a firm creates a competitive advantage for themselves is by managing their customer’s experience and it can be achieved by mapping out the customer’s journey. This a blueprint that explains the path your customer(s) take when interacting with a company’s brand, product or service. A successful journey should incorporate a brand’s touchpoints and cues that can be encountered at various stages throughout the journey. A touchpoint is how a brand, product, or service “touches” a customer is some way; it’s a method of contact of how a company engages with its customers. One common touchpoint is the brand ambassador—using a well know public figure to endorse a company’s brand. The sports apparel company UnderArmour uses athletes like NBA Champion, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, as its brand ambassador. The Toronto Raptors named Toronto musician, Drake, its global brand ambassador, and of course the piece de resistance of brand ambassadors—Scientology’s Tom Cruise. Yep, even bizarre controversial religions have them! Other touchpoints include social media, email, customer service, websites, direct mail, promotions, and company employees—you get the idea. The second significant component of the journey is the cue(s). This can be a signal such as a buzz word, a gesture, a noise, a smell, or even eye contact. For example, Starbucks’ (because I cannot do an MBA without a caffeinated sponsorship from Starbucks) touchpoints include its app, rewards system, coffee cards, and free coffee beverages on your birthday—and yes, you can order the biggest most expensive drink for free (Figure 1, Venti, Blonde & Stormy, triple shot, with almond milk)! Some of Starbucks’ cues include: the smell of coffee, the employee’s green smocks, writing your name on the cup, and calling out your specified drink when it’s ready.

So, how does this tie into dating? Well I’m glad you asked. In class, we were asked to map out the “Experiential Journey of Romance”. My group chose to map out the Experiential Journey of Romance a la Tinder (Figure 2). Okay, perhaps Tinder is not the quintessential romantic journey—incessantly swiping images of potential mates isn’t what you would call sentimental endearing behaviour but it is part of the journey that may get you to the romantic part (perhaps it’s the new “whooing” stage). Until today’s class little did I know I had such a limited understanding of online dating. I should point out that I am I not online dating expert so, I felt I could learn something from mapping out the journey. Above and beyond discussing the obvious touchpoint and cues, one important thing I learned was — “HEYY” is a not slip of the finger and an accidental doubling tapping of the “Y” nor is “HEYYY” the inability to use spell check, like I assumed (I really thought it was a spelling error). For those who are not in the know, like myself, “HEYY” is a good thing, it’s a cue that indicates someone is interested in you and “HEYYY” is an even bigger cue! It essentially means the sender wants to “hook up” Who knew?! Obviously not me! I guess that is an important lesson companies should take note of—when providing cues, they only work if the customer can recognize them.

So overall what did class 2 of CED teach me, besides reinforcing my decision to not go on Tinder and discovering that proper spelling is not a requirement for online dating—I leant that prioritizing the customer experience is not merely a slight adjustment here and there to a firm’s service or product. Simply providing another checkout line at the grocery store, offering extra travel miles, or taking ten dollars of a cell phone bill does not constitute an emphasis and comprehension of this important process. In fact, it may reflect the exact opposite and communicate to the customer that they are being placated with an insincere quick fix. Instead, for experiential marketing to be successful, firms must take a holistic approach by establishing touchpoints and cues, a collaboration of both function and emotion, to provide the customer with best possible experience when they engage with your company.

Figure 1: Venti, Blonde & Stormy, triple shot, with almond milk

Venti, Blonde & Stormy, triple shot, with almond milk)

Figure 2: Mapping out the Experiential Journey: Dating on Tinder

Mapping out the Experiential Journey: Dating on Tinder

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