by Caron Ward - Marketing Executive GP Strategies

Good and bad customer experience

On a recent river boat tour in London I couldn’t help but notice the distinct difference between a good customer experience and a really negative one. All on the same tour, from the same company.  And it struck me that the negative experience might not be too far away from what we’re subjected to in the name of 'learning and development' at work.

On paper the river boat commentary script probably ‘sounded’ fine.

I’m sure the script was written, re-written and went through many revisions before sign-off.


Can you make the customer experience better?

And I’m sure a fair few people were involved, with lots of good ideas and suggestions discussed, inserted, deleted and amended. There would be lots of thoughts on the voiceover, the types of voice and the use of humour too.

I do wonder though if anyone designing the piece actually sat on the boat and listened to the commentary whilst taking in the tour –  because that’s crucially where it matters. That’s the Customer Experience right there.

I also wonder if the creators of the commentary sat on the boat beforehand. Getting a feel for the whole experience. Getting a feel for the audience and what could be added to make it an even better experience. Understanding the integration into the live commentary that takes over halfway through the tour.

The live commentary is excellent (and a welcome distraction from the recording). The crew know their stuff. They’ve got some great stories to tell. They make it relevant to those on board. And it’s very funny. (Although maybe a little subtle if English is not your first language).

I’d highly recommend the City Cruise boat tour from Greenwich to Westminster, but be prepared for the cringeworthy, cheesy, stifled and somewhat patronising commentary that accompanies you on the first half of the tour.

I can’t remember a thing about the recorded commentary - just that it really grated on me.

You can however look forward to the crew taking over for their ‘live storytelling’. Top job guys at City Cruises @citycruises – just wish the creators had listened and talked to you guys first.

Creating a positive learning experience

For me it was a reminder of how easy we sometimes lose sight of what we’re creating and ultimately who we’re creating it for.

And that’s no different if you’re creating a learning experience. A learning experience = user experience = customer experience. It’s all related.

I think this level of care and attention is equally important whether you’re designing a user experience for your clients, their customers or a learning experience for your own internal employees.

You need to get a feel for the environment and the feel of what the experience is before you start. You need to get close to it.  And see how it can be an even better experience.

And scripts are really hard to get right.  Writing natural sounding dialogue with humour is a really tough thing to get right. Some of the best comedy writers take years to get things right. And delivery is equally important.

You can have the best script but without the right delivery it won’t work. There are so many things that need to be right for the end product to make the desired impact. Learning scripts are exactly the same.

Get it wrong and you end up with a patronising piece that will have a negative impact. Get it right and you create an experience that both engages and informs and will be remembered.


A learning experience is ultimately a customer experience. And I think there’s a lot we can learn from our daily customer experiences that we can bring into our learning design world to create better learning experiences.

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