Written by Monique Jansen for Buljan & Partners Consulting
Customers often give free advice to the companies that supply them. So do I, especially when I really care and really believe in the company I am writing about. Or because the product or service is of extremely high importance to me.
This is one of those occasions. Aramon, the company that manages 2 ski stations in the Aragonese Pyrenees (Cerler and Formigal-Panticosa) and 2 in Teruel province (Javalambre and Valdelinares), with a total of 283 kms of slopes is the subject of this post.
The Customer Journey as an opportunity for improvement
I was in Jaca (Huesca) between the 26th of December and the 2nd of January, and I want to share with you, and with Aramon, my perceived Customer Journey. For all of you to understand how a Customer Journey helps you to reflect on your customer experiences, and for Aramon to improve what they are doing.
Whenever I am in Jaca, I pretend to go slope-hopping: to go skiing at least one day in all nearby areas: Candanchú, Astún, Formigal and Panticosa. But since it was very early in the season, and the level of snow was very low still, from up-front investigation I learnt that only Formigal had enough slopes accessible to have an optimal experience. So, Formigal it was, 5 days in a row.
Above you can see the customer Journey I have drawn to represent my experiences during the main touchpoints in Formigal. I have identified 15 touchpoints in total, and of those, 5 provoked very negative emotions during the experience. I will talk you through those pain points and the areas of improvement.
Let me first set one thing straight: The Formigal slopes are excellent, very varied, there is a good choice for beginners and experienced skiers. And they do a very good job in maintaining them skiable. Staff on the slopes is highly motivated, professional and very kind. Yes, there were icy bits in the morning, and soaky bits in the afternoon, but that is unavoidable in these weather conditions: all day sun-shine, no fresh snow since early December and temperatures not low enough to get the snow-canons at full speed every night.
Having said that, if you look at the pain-points I experienced, they are not so much about the product or even failing to meet the brand promise, but instead they are about processes, policies and technology.
Pain point 1: the queues to buy or prolong forfaits
At morning peak hours, queues are horrendously long. And for multi-channel users like me, I would explore ever available alternative. While I was in the forfait queue on the first day, my eyes searched for forfait vending machines. I know what I want, so a machine would do fine for me. No self-service machines were available.
Pain point 2: The queues for hiring skis
Aramon has decided that you must queue twice in this process. Once to order what you want to rent and pay for it, and once to deliver and fit the material you rent. It makes sense to split this. However, it does not make sense to understaff the booths at opening peak times. Only 2 of the 4 cashiers were available, and only 2 of the 5 fitting booths. The receipt of the rented material, as well as the renting terms & conditions on this ticket, are written in such a small printed font that it is impossible to decipher. Lastly, the heating was on. What is worse than queuing if the heat when you are dressed for snow? Queuing in the cold when dressed for the beach I guess. No, seriously, the waiting was horrible in these temperatures, especially when you see that staff is not coping with the volume of work, and customers are getting irritated.
Pain point 3: Getting a phone call to re-claim your skis
Aramon does offer options to ease the queue pain. So we took on at least one of them, and before leaving on the first afternoon, we went to the till again (no queues this time) to prolong the rent for the next day and ask for a ski-locker. Very easy process. We give our mobile phone number, they recorded your wish, and we paid. Someone is available to walk with you to the ski-locker area and lock away your skis. With a promise of no queues in the morning. Great! However, while already at home we received a phone call. We were asked why did not return our skis. We explained: “we went to the till, we extended the rent, we booked a ski-locker, and the skis are in this locker, numbers xx and xx” etc. OK they said, we will investigate then. 10 minutes later they call again. Asking if we can please pass by the till (and therefor queue) the next day because in the process they only charged us for the ski-locker and not for the extension of the ski-rental. Did we not notice while paying? No. we paid by card, and did not want the receipt. We trusted. Now our trust is broken.
Pain point 4: A frustrated attempt to prolong the forfait in APP
The next day, since we had to pass by the till for the skis and queue anyway, I decided not to prolog the forfait on internet at home but do it at the station. But when I got to the forfait queue at the Formigal station I regretted my decision: the queue was long again. Since I had already downloaded the Aramon APP the day before, I went to the APP-shop to try and extend the forfait.
However, they ask for your ID, but they don´t tell you if this is your personal ID (which is common in Spain) or where on the forfait to find an ID. So, I tried various options. My NIE, a range of numbers I found on the card, but none of them worked. Then it was my turn at the till. I told the lady at the till about my frustration with the APP. She showed me where to find the number on the card: it’s the full number as indicated on the right, without the dashes. The APP could have indicated this and could have saved me a lot of frustration. They web-site however, so I found out the next day, does give you this indication. It’s the APP user experience that fails.
Pain point 5: A successful but daunting attempt to prolong the forfait on-line on the web
Determined to not repeat pain point #4, the next morning, before driving off to Formigal ski station again, I went on the web to extend our forfaits. Indeed, on the web they clearly indicate where you can find this ID number. But then a moment of high insecurity arrives: after you entered this long-long-long ID number, and indicate the type of extension, you do not get any message that assure you that this ID you entered is yours. It does not state your name of phone number. This means that you have no idea if you are paying for something that is indeed yours and will work. How difficult is it to confirm first name, last name and phone number when entering the ID and before paying? This is a data integration issue. But one that does not only waste my time, but also gives me huge insecurity. Luckily I double checked the digits before paying, and when I got to the slopes it worked.
Dear people at Aramon, this is my present for you. Please improve and try if you can get rid of the pain points. I will be back: In a few months’ time. At the moment of writing this post, it´s snowing in the Aranogese Pyrenees. Please don´t make the error of waiting until next season. I have kept my forfait card, I will try the APP and the Web again. Act NOW and you´ll be my heroes. For another 5 days, sometime before Easter. Happy 2017, and I wish you an excellent ski-season!
Monique Jansen is Managing Consultant at Buljan & Partners Consulting and Service line leader of Customer Centric Process Leadership. Monique is a customer oriented process and technology specialist since 1997.
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