2 minute read (Serving Suggestion: Read with a cup of tea).

McKinsey[i] recently wrote an article which was so spot-on and reflects our point of view that we’re toasting it with this response: Use customer journey insights to really listen to your customers.

At Thunderhead we’re fascinated with customer journeys. And we’re a bit partial to the great British tradition of afternoon tea. Henry James wisely said “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” [ii] There are also few things in Marketing more agreeable than dedicating your focus to your customers’ journeys. So, pop the kettle on, warm up the tea pot, and let’s start to listen carefully.

McKinsey & Company’s recent article found many brands are “tone-deaf to the voice of the customer”. Have you ever felt you’re talking to a brand who’s hard of hearing? If you’ve ever asked for tea only to be given a coffee you probably feel ignored and insulted. You may as well have been told “tea is for mugs.”

Perhaps you’ve managed to establish a preference for tea so you’re offered a choice of teas: fruit, herbal, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, English Breakfast. You state your preference for Darjeeling black with no sugar. How do you feel if you’re then presented with a mug of milky tea with two sugars? We all feel frustrated when our preferences aren’t heard. Oscar Wilde put it perfectly: “You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.” [iii]

If you’re not really listening to your customers then you’re simply offering them a hot cup of bitter-tasting disappointment. If customer journeys aren’t at the centre of customer engagement measurement then you’re going to end up making your customers feel unhappy. Tea is more than just a hot drink. Rehydrating dried leaves is one thing; creating an occasion with cakes and pastries quite another. To get it right for your brand you have to really listen to your customers with customer journey analytics. A lovely brew of customer journey insights is when things really start heating up and get tasty.

One sandwich does not make an Afternoon Tea. McKinsey’s article recommend brands, rather, have a “complete measurement system of the customer journey.” Brands need to move beyond measuring individual touchpoints and focus instead on customer journeys. Instead of tasting sip by sip by sip, take some time to sit back and enjoy the complete picture. For example, a journey such as ‘Join’ might involve going into a shop, calling a call centre, visiting the website for the first time, signing a contract or submitting a registration form. If these points are looked at individually, and this journey is seen in isolation from other journeys, it means you will lose opportunities to add value for the customer.

A shift in focus to an end-to-end view of the customer journeys, in real time, enables brands to act on customer behaviour and feedback at the time when it’s most relevant, turning potential negative outcomes and feedback into delicious goodness. We agree with McKinsey when they say that “the heart of journey centric measurement is the organising principle of measuring customer experience at the journey level as opposed to looking only at transactional touchpoints or overall satisfaction.” In other words, journey-centric analytics and insights, or feedback. This is the key to be able to distinguish your brand from a plain mug of brown brew to Tea at the Ritz. The vital ingredient at the centre of it all: customer journeys and customer journey analytics.


To be able to master making the perfect cup then you’re going to need some essentials. To do that we agree with McKinsey: “investing in an effective and complete system to measure the experience of the customer journey is the way to reap the rewards of customer feedback”. If you use customer-centric journey insights to really listen to your customers you’ll be able to tell the difference between who wants Lapsang Souchong, Assam and Darjeeling.

Whether tea is liquid wisdom or the cup of life, we say cheers to that.


[i] Are you really listening to what your Customers are saying? Harald Fanderi, Kevin Neher and Alfonso Pulido, Published March 16th 2016, McKinsey & Company http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/are-you-really-listening-to-what-your-customers-are-saying

[ii] Portrait of a Lady, Henry James.

[iii] The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde.

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