Consultancy Skills Toolkit

Working with Clients

"Journey of the Customer" Analysis


This analysis is based on one of the iconic "customer strategy" tales of the 1980's.

In the early 1980's Jan Carlzon, the then president of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), took an airline that was failing and turned it around to be one of the most respected airlines in the industry. His strategy for achieving this was as along the following lines:

  1. The SAS business depended on repeat business - on ensuring that its customers were so impressed with their trip that they booked on SAS the next time they flew. In Jan Carlzon's words, from this viewpoint, the real assets of SAS were not the planes and equipment, but satisfied customers - customers who would return to SAS.
  2. In the eyes of those customers, SAS really existed only as a whole series of moments of truth -  "Anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression."

    journey of the customer diagramThese moments of truth cumulatively create the image - good or bad - of SAS.

    Some examples of moments of truth for SAS were:

    • when you call to make a reservation to take a flight,
    • when you arrive at the airport and check your bags curbside,
    • when you go inside and pick up your ticket at the ticket counter,
    • when you are greeted at the gate,
    • when you are taken care of by the flight attendants onboard the aircraft,
    • when you are greeted at your destination.  
  3. In order to build up that image of SAS in the customers eyes and thus ensure repeat business he set about to get the whole organisation to focus on these Moments of Truth and ensure that SAS managed them better. The impact was not just upon training and procedures, but extended even to the design of the aircraft and the scheduling of flights.

    Gradually, over a few years, this focus led to a major turnaround in SAS's fortunes and enabled it to survive and prosper when so many others failed to do so. In 1986 he summarised his experiences in his book called Moments of Truth -  still worth reading.

The Journey of the Customer Diagnosis

The following diagnosis is based on those ideas - mapping the journey of the customers and the moments of truth that they face. It has been used with considerable success in a wide variety of improvement projects.

Step 1     Map out your Journey of the Customer

The diagram below provides a good starting point for many services

journey of the customer diagram

Flowchart journey of the customer in a hotel

Step 2    Identify the Moments of Truth and the Hot-Spots

There are two main approaches to this:

Step 3    Tackle the Hot Spots

List the hot-spots, prioritise them, and then set up teams to resolve them.