Developing a Culture of Assumption at 200mph

Last weekend I attended the United States Grand Prix Formula One race at the magnificent Circuit of the Americas facility just outside Austin, Texas and had a fantastic time. It was the third time I’d been to an F1 race at the track and it’s always been a great experience.

This year there was a record crowd of just over 269,000 people in attendance. I was also lucky enough to attend the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier in the year. They too had a record crowd of around 300,000 at the event, and it was also a great experience.  In both cases the facilities and promoters put on an exceptional show.

With crowds that size there was inevitably a lot of first time attendees and thinking back I noticed many instances of regular race goers having to explain how things worked to other people. Things like how the shuttle bus service worked, how to identify drivers and cars, or the nuances of pit-stop strategies. It occurred to me that when you put on an event on a regular basis, you can easily develop an underlying culture of assumption that people just know how things are organized. The same could be said for providing content on a regular basis too.

In the periodical publishing industry there is an axiom that any given issue of a magazine is someone’s first issue and that things should be laid out and presented accordingly. I believe the same guideline should be applied to any event where you are interacting with your customers, be it in person or online.

Ever been to a trade show or conference vendor hall and had to ask at a booth “So what is it you do?”  Shouldn’t that be obvious from the branding, and booth copy? Again it’s a culture of assumption in play.

How about your website or mobile applications, your call center? Do they reflect a culture of assumption?

Any given interaction with your company could be someone’s first, so provide them with the information they need for a productive experience.

Spell things out. Communicate the basics clearly and use good design to make the first journey intuitive. Help new prospects and customers get the answers they need easily. You also need to provide alternate paths for those repeat interactions where customers already have some product knowledge or experience of how your processes flow.

It’s a delicate balancing act to cater for the new customer without irritating the repeat visitor, but it’s one that needs to be addressed.

When developing and mapping customer journeys don’t just talk to your existing customers, talk to your sales prospects, or better yet have someone who has no experience of your company and knows nothing about you work their way through the various channels you use to tell your story.

Don’t let your new customers be the confused race fan looking for the right shuttle bus, help them get to the track in the quickest and easiest way possible, and they may end up being first in line to buy a ticket for next year’s event.

Alan Porter

Alan J. Porter is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for the OpenText Customer Experience Suite. He is a regular writer and industry speaker on various aspects of Customer Experience and Content Strategy.

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