Customer Service

3 Things the Hero’s Journey Can Teach Your Customer Experience

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Last time around we talked through three things your CX efforts can take away from sci-fi world-building. Now we’re going to talk through something called the hero’s journey. It’s legit.

If you’ve ever come across an obscure title such as The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or, like, Harry Potter (we know, but we couldn’t find anything more mainstream), you’ve encountered the hero’s journey in action.

So here’s the score: the hero’s journey is kinda this pattern that many myths and other compelling narratives follow. Joseph Campbell, a badass literature professor, described it thus in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces: ‘A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.’

Glossing over the annoyingly specific he-pronouns, this doesn’t really seem to offer much for the ol’ Cx, does it? But hark! Let’s look at a more detailed breakdown. We’ll illustrate each point with a callout to The Matrix.

(Spoiler alert: you’ll be more confused at first. But just bear with us okay? Shhh. Bear with us.)

 

First, there is the departure phase

  • The ordinary world:
    • Neo geeks out in front of his computer like, the whole time guys.
  • The call to adventure:
    • Neo gets a literal phone call and gets told to gtfo of the building.
  • Refusal of the call:
    • Neo is all ‘Whoa bro I frickin’ hate heights.’
  • Meeting of the mentor:
    • Neo meets Morpheus, who is wearing the most boss sunglasses – but indoors at night in the rain ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Crossing the threshold to the special world:
    • Neo gets unpluggggggggggged.

 

Next there’s the initiation phase

  • Tests, allies and enemies:
    • Neo learns how to do squats and make kung-fu wavy arms with his new friends.
  • Approach to the innermost cave:
    • The Oracle–cookie thing occurs, after which Morpheus is captured.
  • The ordeal:
    • Neo is like, ‘Heeeeell no son, I got this.’ He heads off to rescue The Morph.
  • The reward:
    • Rescue: success! The Morph is saved.

 

Finally, there’s the return phase

  • The road back:
    • Agents trap Neo in the Matrix because he was dawdling with Trinity at the worst time ever. Agent Smith ends up popping a cap in Neo’s… chest.
  • The resurrection:
    • Trinity tells Neo that she has The Feels for him. His heart is all ‘Not today, Agent Smithers!’ and he gets up to play Why Are You Hitting Yourself with Agent Smith.
  • Return with the elixir:
    • Neo has changed. His understanding is greater. His powers are more powery. And now he’s going to use this to keep bringing the pain to the Matrix. Also he’s going to fly about Las New Yorkangeles, because why not?

Now you may be thinking, ‘ZaiLab writer humans, what in the living Jiminy Cricket does this have to do with the customer experience?’

We got you, sceptical reader. Let’s do another run-through of those phases, but let’s turn your customer into the hero kay?

 

Departure (acquisition)

  • The ordinary world:
    • Your customer-to-be (#C2B) is stuck using a totally lame competitor product. Ugh.
  • The call to adventure:
    • Your #C2B sees your super-wicked viral YouTube video and checks you out.
  • Refusal of the call:
    • The #C2B thinks for a moment, then is just ‘Aw yeah, it looks cool maybe I shou— oh hey is that a new BuzzFeed list about cats being ultra-cat?
  • Meeting of the mentor:
    • #C2B gets a call from one of your salespeople, who says a lot of convincing Gandalf stuff about ROI and process optimization.
  • Crossing the threshold to the special world:
    • Your #C2B takes the plunge and starts a free trial yeah!

 

Initiation (engagement)

  • Tests, allies and enemies:
    • Your new customer figures out your product, meets your kickass support staff and fends off attacks from a bunch of twisted, devious Competitroids.
  • Approach to the innermost cave:
    • The customer gets ready to fully adopt your offering.
  • The ordeal:
    • There are some sticking points in the crossover – but with the help of your super rad support staff and your willingness to take on feedback, the adoption goes off swimmingly.
  • The reward:
    • Your customer rakes in some serious aw-yeahs with their slick new product.

 

Return (retention)

  • The road back:
    • Wait! Technical difficulties! It happens, but damn but your customer is max unhappy. They’re looking to bail!
  • The resurrection:
    • When the account manager steps up and takes fair accountability, then goes on to show how your company has taken steps to prevent a recurrence, your customer mulls it over. The offer of a discount softens things a little further. Then when you order your customer’s favourite doughnuts? Tickets.
  • Return with the elixir:
    • Your customer has changed. You’ve crushed a bunch of their pain points. Their business is thriving – and they’re singing your praises. Major, major win.

Now of course maybe your offering doesn’t quite fit into the examples we laid out – but what we’re trying to say here is, well, we’re trying to say a few things.

One, the hero’s journey helps you think about your organization from the outside in, because it makes your customer the hero. Not you! Your customer. That is really, really important. What was your customer’s life like before their journey with you? What is it like after?

Two, the three phases of the hero’s journey conform quite nicely to the acquire–engage–retain buyer’s journey. How cool is that?

Three, the subphases provide a sort of checklist to establish whether you’ve got all your eventualities covered. Do you have a ‘mentor’? What happens when things go real bad? Etc.

Give it some thought and see what your customer’s hero journey would look like. Better yet, let us know in the comments below.