Expect The Unexpected Path


It's really important to think through the whole customer journey and to consider the different paths a "non-ideal" customer may take when trying to take an action.

This morning I was responding to an email from a company that provides credit ratings and also a security service checking my details aren’t being accessed illegally. I pay them a monthly subscription for this service and the card I use expires at the end of this month, so they’d written to ask me to update my card details including a link to make life easy. 

I clicked the link and checked that the URL address was in line with the company’s website and then attempted to log in. I don’t log in that frequently so couldn’t remember my password. I attempted several versions before being asked to reset the password. 

I was then presented with three boxes asking for information which I duly completed. I then got an error message saying I hadn’t completed the information in another box – well if you’d shown me that box, I would have completed it! 

I then completed the elusive box and finally managed to log in with my new password. When I checked my account details the original password was showing, not the one I had just entered and used to access the account page. I was now getting cross. 

The form I needed to complete with new details to maintain my subscription didn’t appear (as I hadn’t gone into the website following the expected path). I searched the full site – no form. Logged out and then went back to the email and clicked the link again. This time the form appeared, and I completed the details. 

To be honest, I was really disappointed and at several moments along the journey seriously considered not bothering and letting my subscription lapse. It shouldn’t be this hard!

Several failures in the customer journey stood out for me:

1) being asked to access a form to complete new payment details via a link within an email. The general advice is not to follow links within emails – as data security experts I’d expect this company to know that. 

2) not being able to access this form via the main website – this did nothing for my sense of security. Consider the needs of your customers. I use this service because it provides me with security. 

3) the password reset wanting more information than is requested and then positioning the error message to suggest it’s a customer error not a system error. Make sure you ask for all the information you need within forms and take responsibility for your own failures. 

When mapping customer journeys you need to look at the ideal pathway but ALSO consider all the break points (where customers may not take the expected action) and ensure that those different paths lead to the same outcome. If you don’t know where those break points are in your journeys, then you should get external help to map those journeys with you. You need to consider the customer journey from the customer’s perspective and not expect “ideal” behaviour every time.

What’s that expression ….? ‘expect the unexpected!’

Elaine Lee MD, ReynoldsBusbyLee

If you’d like to chat to us about how to improve your customer experience please call  020 3637 0966 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Picture credit: Mike Enerio on Unsplash 

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