Last updated: The customer journey versus the hero’s journey

The customer journey versus the hero’s journey


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It was a cold evening during February of 1982. A typical Sunday would have had me enjoying time with family and my grandfather. But it was Feb 26, and not a typical Sunday for this 5-year-old.

It was the day that an outdoor antenna was going to beam into our home what would be a nearly 40-year love affair with the Star Wars franchise – a New Hope was airing on CBS.

With the recording options setup, my new VCR was ready to record this epic movie on my TDK-120 VHS tape. As 8 PM hit, – with the exception to stay up late – my heart raced as this movie became my favorite.

I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe

As a child, I wouldn’t fully understand why I loved these movies, I just know they captured my heart and occupied much of my mental real estate. I wanted to eat the C3P0 O’s cereal, use only my Darth Vader thermos to drink from, and of course play with my Millennium Falcon every movement.

Today as an adult with my own child, I see so many more reasons to enjoy this franchise: Great stories and characters that live on, true friendships, awesome technology, the value of storytelling – it’s so similar to real life. It’s a classic hero journey with a main character who longs for adventure, faces adversity, overcomes obstacles (internal and external), rises to the challenges, and ultimately wins (until he doesn’t).

Rebellions are built on hope

The hero’s journey is a story that’s been told countless times. It connects with us and draws us in – it’s never easy, but by the end we’ve learned, grown, and achieved.

When you consider the hero’s journey there are so many parallels to a customer journey. To quote Yoda “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

So, let’s take a look at the hero’s journey and parallel it to a customer journey.

The hero: Meet Luke Skywalker: If you don’t know who Luke is, I’m talking to the wrong audience. Though he’s the hero, and main character, we don’t meet him right way, but once we do, we see he longs for more – he has a passion to do more.

The customer: For most of us, we’re the main character in our own epic journey that we call life. We move in and out of days, like people move in and out of pages or scenes. We might not battle dragons, but the occasional traffic monster does come to mind.

Just a regular planet: “If there is a bright center to the universe, you are farthest from it” this is how Luke describes his home to his new friends. Given his current situation, he wants to learn how to make better.

The current situation: For this specific storyline, you’re placed into your own world. You wake up, grab some food, get our supporting characters ready, and off into the world to do good, learn, love, and perhaps today is the day we buy something.

Call to Adventure: Luke is made aware of a pain in the galaxy, and through interactions, meeting some droids and watching Leia’s message, he wants to do more, but isn’t exactly sure how just yet. Through conversation, he continues his learning.

Awareness campaign: You’re made aware by your spouse of a great pain in the world – your kid needs the hottest toy in the universe. Any disturbance to this reality will be met with swift and unknown challenges. You hit the information superhighway to learn more about this toy and potential places to acquire it. The most trustworthy of dealers offer a great customer experience, but life gets in the way, and you’re called into a meeting. The cart is abandoned.

Meets the mentor / learns about the quest: As the story unfolds, he meets a mentor that helps him understand more about the path and himself. He learns about things he is connected to – his father, and why it’s important to continue forward. The greater calling is so important to Luke, and he just needs help to connect the dots.

Struggles to convert: Before you leave your desk, your guide on this journey (the chat bot) pops up and helps you add the desired item to a wish list. They also help you learn about protection plans and related items. As part of the exchange you consent to communication related to your wish list, and for them to use the data to personalize your experience.

Walks away: Luke continues to push back on the idea of getting involved. Ben challenges him with a simple statement “That is your uncle talking.” It makes Luke think about who he really is, and what he really wants to do. What are his goals? And what problem is he really trying to solve?

Still not a customer: As with any journey, life gets in the way. You sit down to dinner with the family, read a book, and take a walk while the sun sets. You have a moment to yourself, but at this point, you have no compelling force driving you to complete your journey.

Compelling event: Luke hits rock bottom because of the Empire. This emotional scene connects us to Luke even more, and connects Luke to his destiny. Once on board the Death Star, Luke demonstrates he’s committed to helping the princess, returning the droids, and saving the day.

Makes the purchase: The next morning, the perfect storm arrives with a child reminding you of the importance of the toy, the accessory pack, ability to set it up, and free shipping. The pain is real, and the call to solve is well aligned. You withdraw you favorite plastic weapon of choice, using your favorite social network to login – because who can remember passwords?You store your credit card, address, and consent to a weekly newsletter to stay ahead of the curve.

Stuff gets real: Luke discovers more about himself while running around the Death Star. He loses his mentor at the hand of Darth Vader. Fast forward, he destroys some Tie Fighters, delivers the plans, and saves the day.

Customer loyalty grows: The toy shows up, in perfect order thanks to the team’s white glove setup. The ongoing newsletter helps you become the winning parent with tips on how to plan and drive creativity. Nothing stops with the single event. We come to the cross roads to buy more from this vendor or explore what might be out in the great beyond…

Most Tests | More Friends | More Enemies: Of course, the story doesn’t end, it continues. Luke meets a new mentor, faces bigger challenges, learns more truths “LUKE I AM YOUR FATHER.”

Customers for life: Our story doesn’t end either; it’s just the beginning of this adventure. The stories we create, the memories we make, the battles we win are all part the journey. The companies that offer great customers experiences help us win in our own journey. They mentor us down a path, and are there when we need them.

Now, be brave and don’t look back: Consider the customer journey

As the brand, go win! Create a world where your customers can be the hero. Provide them with guidance, fun, and excitement along the way. Eventually they’ll become the true hero of their journey and bring order to your galaxy.

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