Abandon Hope All Ye Who Ignore Mobile In Reinvented Customer Journeys

School holidays are a great time for reflection, and for my family there has been a fair amount of rolling of the eyes as I suggested to staff at restaurants, pubs, tourist attractions and hotels that "there must be an app for that." Considering that digital marketing is sending most organisations on a trip to reimagine the customer journey, I take any point of quoting that famous ad tagline as a point at which they have not embraced the opportunities of digital -- often mobile -- to make their customers' lives easier.

The biggest case in point I could name is Legoland, or at least its hotel at the entrance to its Windsor theme park. You can only imagine how many people Lego must have looking at customer journeys -- a company of that size just has to, right? Well, the Hargrave family decamped there for a night at the hotel in a pirate-themed room and two days in the park this half-term. Needless to say, I drove those around me mad with constant "why don't they just" and "they know me, I've signed up, they should be better at this."

Rather than lay out a complaint, I think the experience should be presented as a guide to where I think a lot of organisations fall down, only that Legoland falls down in every respect.

The double queue to repeat information is a huge mistake that lots of companies fall into. At the Legoland hotel you have to queue up to check in your luggage at the front door and then queue up at reception to "pre" check-in. There are no staff to explain the system, of course, so nobody has any idea why they are queuing twice or why they may well have to queue a third time to check in for real. There follows a repetition of information and manual writing down of information that the company already has. Bag tags take ages, yet the hotel knows our name and our allotted room number -- we're pirates for the night -- so why not just press a button and have tags printed out? Why write out each tag manually while the queue of people itching to get on a ride just grows longer and longer?

Speaking to a human to find out there's an app for that is another grudge I have with many companies, particularly any events organiser. At Legoland you can pre-book a Qbot device that queues for you so you can be on one ride while virtually queueing for another, and when your time is up you go straight onto the ride. It's a great idea and very popular, so even if you pre-book you join a queue of customers who have decided to get the devices on the day. When you finally get to the front, the advice is to go to a Web site and sign up. The hilarious thing is that you have to sign up in front of a member of staff so he or she can call HQ with your log-in credentials so the browser-based service can be activated.

Anyone with any knowledge of mobile will be scratching their heads and wondering why Legoland just doesn't tell customers to download the Qbot app or sign up online in advance. Why make people queue to be given a Web address and then have their accounts verified over a fixed telephone line? All the time this is happening, the queues you're trying to beat in the Qbot line just get longer and longer.

Not asking helpful information up front is another bugbear that complicates the user journey. In this case it's a voucher for dinner you can pre-book to make sure the family is fed. The only problem for us was that we were unaware how busy the restaurant gets and didn't try to book a table for the evening at around the middle of the afternoon. The computer really did say "no" and we weren't allowed to book, meaning our voucher was useful. Anyone who knows anything about Londoners can imagine the exchange that then followed until a kind young woman walked in, admitted the situation was ridiculous and offered to just book us in anyway. So the question remain unanswered -- why not ask people to tick a box or select a time they would like to eat at when they pre-book a dinner voucher online? It really isn't rocket science, is it?

The irony is that in the run-up to us going to Legoland and during our stay, Legoland didn't attempt to make contact once. Not even an SMS with their postcode, not an offer to upgrade room, get a better view of the fireworks, pre-order drinks or whatever they might have wanted to try to sell. There wasn't even a message to say how excited we must be with just X days to go until our family trip. Rather ironically, this is exactly what our next hotel, a Premier Inn in London, was doing. Staff at Legoland couldn't believe that nobody contacts guests to pre-greet them and guide them through what they can expect from their stay. As a final nail in their customer relations, I showed a few members of staff who could be bothered to listen our printed-out tickets. What's missing, I asked. They all instantly realised it would be useful to put the postcode of the park on the tickets because you can guarantee people will have them when they get in the car and it would greatly help programming the SatNav.

Just being plain stupid is another mistake that customers won't forgive you for, particularly if you are creating a problem in the guise of solving one. At Legoland you can dump your room cards in a box for an "express'" checkout. Great, you think. Trouble is, the only way you can later leave the hotel is with a room key. The solution, they remind you when you later raise this, is to get a temporary room key when you check out. So express checkout to avoid queuing to talk to a person only works if you, erm, queue up to talk to a person at reception and get a temporary key. The result is pretty funny. A lobby full of people all waiting for someone with a room key to open a door or access the lift so they whole family can run through the door or into the lift with them.

It's not just Legoland. A trip to Hampton Court, famed for being where Henry VIII liked to hold court, left me wondering why we'd missed a bunch of family activities that everyone else seemed to know about. The answer was that we hadn't queued for tickets, as we're season ticketholders. So, why oh why, I pointed out later to a member of staff, is there not a means by which a subscriber gets a day planner sent to their mobile device the second their season ticket is scanned at the front door? It just makes too much sense, doesn't it? You're coming in, you won't have got a ticket with activity information, so here's a guide to the day on your mobile device.

Anyone in this industry must surely realise that customer experience is the new marketing, so anybody who wants to get on should go through their user journey. If there are points of asking for the same information or manually writing down data that is digitally stored, rework that process. If you need to talk to a person to activate an app or a mobile service, rework it. If you are having people join several queues where something could be done in a single line or, better still, through an app, just do it. If customers are telling you something, act on it. If you get a message that "I've just walked in the front door" you need to have a response. It could be a daily planner or simple a welcoming note with a discount offer on an afternoon tea or your latest product.

Mobile is at the centre of the customer experience and those customers are increasingly digital savvy. Embrace their desire to speed things up and simplify processes through technology or risk losing them to someone who does.

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