Make the Customer the Hero

Customer Hero 1

Problems are always more fun when you think of them as adventures.

Sadly, when something stops working, no one says

“It’s broken FOR THE LOVE OF….I can’t wait for this adventure”

But there’s merit in applying storytelling theories to customer experience. If a problem arises, it helps to see our customer as a protagonist who seeks a happy ending. This can help us map their optimal journey to resolution. The problem is, many people think this only gives our agents the chance to step in as fairy godmother.

It’s nearly 2020 kids, we say let Cinderella fight her own battles.

Whilst agents can be wonderful ‘mentor’ figures, it’s time for our customers be the hero of their own journeys. Let’s run through the simplified beats of this kind of story:

1) Ordinary world: otherwise known as ignorant bliss.
Marjorie is having a lovely time listening to Lizzo’s latest album and butchering a Sudoku whilst absent-mindedly entering her card details into your website. She’s ordering a poncho, because it’s Friday.

2) Call to adventure: because things go pear shaped.
Marjorie’s card is not being accepted, with no explanation as to why. Marjorie has already bought a crate of wine that morning because it’s Saturday tomorrow. It’s also pay day. She has funds, and the card is working. The well-known adventure of ‘why is the online pay platform not working’ rears its head.

3) Refusal of the call: Marjorie really doesn’t fancy the adventure.
This could go several ways:

Marjorie tries once more to enter her card details but has the same problem, which starts to negate the endorphins of her 6am run. Her enthusiasm for 70s fashion plummets accordingly.

Marjorie is so hungry from her run that the only adventure she’s considering is a fry up. Hangry, she gives up on the process altogether.

Marjorie battles on like a trooper and gives your agents a call. But the hold music sends her over the edge. It’s no Lizzo. She vows not to call back for hours.

Customer Hero 2

4) Meeting the mentor: but is this an agent?
Here’s the problem – for our agents to play the mentor role, Marjorie has got to be in the frame of mind to meet them. Nay call them.

Is it not better to design a journey in which Marjorie can be her own hero?

For example, an instant web notification signaling Marjorie’s entered the expiry date of her card in the wrong format, could be the best mentor of all. It fast tracks us straight to the next stage.

5) Crossing the Threshold: Marjorie accepts the adventure
Let’s revisit the scenarios imagining the web notification happens.

When Marjorie re-enters her card details, it works like a charm. Because she enters the expiry date right.

Before Marjorie has time to get hangry, the notification cracks the quick fix for successful payment. The fry up can wait one more click…

Marjorie need never cast judgment on our hold music, because the issue is solved long before she needs to speak to an agent. Which means your agents are freed up to deal with greater technical ‘adventures’.

6) Obstacles: stuff still keeps going wrong because #classic

On some adventures, the solution isn’t this simple. Perhaps Marjorie needs to register an account in order to pay. Perhaps Marjorie is also struggling to alter her personal details. But, however complex the plot, the sentiment remains the same.

Rather than forcing our heroes to call our contact centres, we should give them the power to filter quickly to the information they need. An engaging video tutorial is far more likely to appeal to Marjorie than a phone bill.

We do this by focusing on the obstacle stage, NOT the mentor stage.


Because this way we can pre-empt or even eliminate obstacles. Which means less ‘adventures’, more functioning ‘ordinary worlds’.


By monitoring an automated pay platform, we could identify where our customers drop out of the intuitive customer journey. Worst case, this is when Marjorie says sod it and makes a fry up. Best case, it’s when she reached out to an agent.

Customer Hero 3

By recognising these weak spots in our systems, we can prevent these crossroad moments happening. Picture the scene:

Marjorie wonders “What’s the security number on my weird looking credit card I just got?

An image appears highlighting the CVV strip. When she continues to hesitate, a video tutorial pops up.

Marjorie thinks “that’s amazing, I didn’t say a word”

It might not make a riveting screenplay, but it makes a very satisfying customer journey.

It also means we can skip the next stage of the traditional hero’s journey….

7) Ordeal: AVOID. Because we’re legends

8) Reward: get to the good stuff

The moment Marjorie successfully processes poncho payment with plenty of time for a fry up. Thanks to a self-service platform, she didn’t even have to turn off Lizzo’s bangers to make a phone call. The shredded Sudoku was always beyond our control.

In business, we can usually skip the final three stages of the hero’s journey: the road back, the resurrection hero and returning with elixir. As fun as those beats are. Let’s not drag it out.

The bottom line is, as contact centres, the best way to act as mentors is to put our customers directly in the winning role. Sure, our agents can swoop in if all else fails. But how about we give our customers the hero experience? You can’t buy that warm glow of success.

But by plotting customer journeys, identifying pinch points and inserting easy self-serve solutions, we can offer it.

Here at Adexchange, we’re alchemists of the hero feeling. We’ll monitor and review the outcomes of your customer journeys, until ‘adventures’ feel like the distant stuff of fairy tales.

Nick Herbert

Nick Herbert

Managing Director
Nick has been our Managing Director for over 15 years, but before joining Adexchange was a BBC journalist and radio presenter; both of which rely on clarity of communication, detail and efficiency.
Nick Herbert

Nick Herbert

Managing Director
Nick has been our Managing Director for over 15 years, but before joining Adexchange was a BBC journalist and radio presenter; both of which rely on clarity of communication, detail and efficiency.