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Is Your Customer Experience Ready for Opening Night?

by Mark Withington, on Apr 13, 2021 2:53:21 PM

Read Time: 6 minutes

My daughter is a resident artist at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, and (of course) her mother and I are very active theatre parents. But even before she showed an interest in theatre, I was always fascinated how live theatre performances are able to create the story telling illusion in front of audience of faceless bystanders. Every show appearing spontaneous and fresh, without the benefit of multi-million dollar computer graphic effects, with never a hint of fatigue, boredom or incongruity.

Yeah, I know they’re “playing three shows daily including weekend matinees… try the veal.” Just the same, I walk away from every show with my illusion intact. Every. Time. So the last time my daughter was home I asked, “beyond rehearsals that seem to go on for weeks, how does that illusion remain so flawless from opening night all the way through closing?” Her answer? Tech-Week.

What is Tech-Week?

Tech-Week starts on the Sunday prior to opening night with the “10-out-of-12” (ten hours of rehearsal with a two hour dinner break), kicking off with a “cue-to-cue” where the actors go through every element of the production including choreography, props, lighting and sound to ensure it fits on the stage. Next, they work from each sound/light cue and ensure the actors are set in their “blocking” (i.e., getting from point A to point B). Then they conduct a full run-through dress rehearsal with the production crew creating a “work-list” of items that need to get fixed for the following day’s dress rehearsal. And then finally, the 10-out-of-12 ends with a “sitzprobe”, where the singers and the orchestra work together to “become one.”

The next three days start with a run through of the prior day’s “work-list”, an actor’s “½ hour” (practicing getting mic’ed, dressed in costume, etc.) and then an entire end-to-end dress rehearsal with lights, sound, music, etc. The Thursday before opening night is the Preview where a small group of select guests attend a full run of the show… stopping only for major faux-pas or mixups.

What does Tech-Week have to do with the customer experience?

About now, you’re probably wondering how ‘Tech-Week’ even remotely relates to Customer Experience (CX)… Welcome to the Customer-Centric economy where information (à la the Internet) has become the great leveler, commoditizing nearly everything in its wake, often times leaving the Customer Experience as an organization’s only differentiating competitive advantage[i]. And, just like live theatre where you only have one chance to make a first impression, the Customer Experience has to be flawless, and therefore, it needs the same grueling attention to detail and perfection that “Tech-Week” ensures.

The Customer Experience Service Blueprint ExampleFigure 1: Service Blueprint Example

To illustrate this relationship , CX best practice tools such as Service Blueprints (see Figure 1) actually use terms like “frontstage”, “backstage”, and “actors” to relate the customer, employee, and technology in a choreographed interchange and in doing so acknowledge something that live theatre has known for years.

PDCX Maturity Assessment banner (1)

The Four Moments of Truth Matter

In CX design, we often speak of the Moments of Truth within the customer journey which are the critical make-or-break customer interactions that determine the success of a customer experience. So what are the four Moments of Truth?

  • Zero moment of truth (ZMoT) coined by Google in 2011, refers to the customer online research about a product or service before taking any action
  • First moment of truth (1st MOT): Consideration to Purchase or the "moment a consumer chooses a product over the other competitors offerings".
  • Second moment of truth (2nd MOT): Experienced Value or when a customer purchases a product and experiences its quality as per the promise of the brand
  • Third moment of truth (3rd MOT): Consumers feedback or reaction towards a brand, product or service i.e. consumer becomes brand advocate and gives back via word of mouth or social media publishing.

There’s no better place to illustrate the importance of these Moments of Truth than opening night in live theatre where a flawless customer experience is not just desirable, it’s demanded.

For example, theatergoers research shows via critical reviews and word-of-mouth (Zero Moment of Truth) which influences whether they buy tickets for the show or opt to go to a movie instead or just stay home to watch tv (First moment of truth). During the show the theatergoer determines their “experienced value” (Second Moments of Truth) by how well the theatric illusion is carried, which in turn drives further word-of-mouth endorsement (Third Moment of Truth), ultimately creating more demand for the rest of the run.

Netting it out, everything hangs on whether the theatre troupe is able to fire on all four Moments of Truth to produce a flawless customer experience. And that customer experience is honed to perfection prior to opening night during Tech-Week.

No…Perhaps You Misunderstood, Moments of Truth REALLY Matter

The very same rigor live theatre applies throughout Tech-Week needs to be incorporated in any project or initiative that would impact a company or digital product’s Customer Experience. You can see a direct parallel from the theatre industry’s tech-week to the business world’s customer experience “testing” (see Figure 2). We need to be as persnickety with CX end-to-end testing as we are with technical User Acceptance Testing (UAT) before we ‘go-live’. After all, the true “User” in U-A-T is usually the customer.

The Parallel Between Tech-Week and the Customer Experience

Figure 2: The Parallel Between Tech-Week and the Customer Experience

What questions should you ask yourself when you are planning a project?

  1. Does my organization view our Customer Experience with Tech-Week-like rigor? Testing and retesting the CX before go-live?

  2. Does my organization plan for End-to-End testing (the endpoints being logical start and stop from the customer’s perspective) within all of their project plans?

  3. Is that End-to-End testing iterative, to accommodate the work-lists that are inevitably uncovered as each E2E CX test proceeds?

  4. Do we ‘pressure test’ the CX Moments of Truth internally before release, or do we allow our customers to do the testing for us?

  5. Does my organization have a templated process (similar to Tech-Week) that we follow for CX sign-off?

What is your organization’s Purpose Driven Customer Experience maturity?

If you answered no to any of the above, you owe it to your customer’s to take our full Purpose Driven Customer Experience Maturity Assessment, a simple five minute survey that can help highlight CX areas of strength and opportunity within your organization. Purpose Driven CX creates a level of structure around the customer experience that leverages proven concepts from the fields of behavioral economics, service design thinking, and Accelare’s S2E implementation methodology to deliver a level of precision and discipline that any organization can benefit from.

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Customer Experience Maturity Assessment

[i] According to Gartner's Customer Experience Survey, 81% of marketers expect to compete mostly (or entirely) based on Cx

Topics:Digital TransformationCustomer Experience

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