This week we analyse the customer journey in terms of Joseph Campbell’s iconic text The Hero’s Journey to see how you could be shaping your brand narrative and experience for the better.

The Hero’s Customer Journey

Come with us on a perilous journey ripe with adventure and purchase potential.

Christopher Moriarty

Creative

Learning Organisation

4 minute read

In his 1949 work The Hero with a Thousand Faces1, author and editor Joseph Campbell utilised classic archetypes from comparative mythologies, along with the psychoanalytical work of Carl Jung, to outline 'The Hero’s Journey'.

Campbell’s template for adventure sees our central protagonist leaving the comfort and safety of their known world and following twelve steps of the journey to achieve their goal, whatever it may be, before returning home changed. These steps have knowingly and unknowingly been used by critics, theorists and artists to study and create a range of works – from The Lord of the Rings to Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Here we will be applying the steps to the CX journey.

In short
  • The Hero’s Journey is a famous narrative framework used in literature that has many parallels with the customer journey.
  • The customer starts in their ordinary world, where the call to adventure is your first message.
  • If all goes well, the customer completes their journey and receives the ‘elixir’ or product – becoming an advocate for your brand.
The Ordinary World

When we first meet the customer, they are in their normal element. They may be browsing memes on Facebook or searching for a specific video on YouTube, the one where some guy randomly laughs in a tourist’s home video. Whatever they’re doing, at this moment, they are oblivious to the journey that lies ahead.

The Call to Adventure

This is where your first message finds them. An SMS or email, a wild poster ad in the outdoors. However, you’ve sent your call, the seed of contact has planted. An offer is made. The adventure is about to begin.


“On the path ahead your customer will encounter many obstacles to sign-up or purchase, and several similar offers to yours.”

The Refusal of the Call

But the customer has rebuffed your advances, rejecting your special offer as not so special. There was nothing you could have done better, this is just a natural part of the journey. It may last weeks or it may be a momentary rejection, nonetheless the potential customer is now on their path.

Meeting with the Mentor

Your customer is swayed in your direction by a testimonial. This figure of authority offers wise advice and knowledge that will help guide the customer in the journey that lies ahead. They send your potential customer on their way and wish they could travel along but alas... they have no present need to repurchase, or are perhaps merely a hired spokesperson pretending to be a satisfied customer.

Crossing the Threshold

At this point, your potential customer is well on their way to considering becoming your actual customer. They have pushed through the boundary of disinterest, but the deal is not yet done. They must first pass the guardians of the threshold. One such guardian will be the customer’s own doubt and preconceptions about what your business is offering and whether it’s right for them. The path you create for the acquisition of this customer must account for, and allay, these fears.

Tests, Allies and Enemies

On the path ahead your customer will encounter many obstacles to sign-up or purchase, and several similar offers to yours. They may even come across scams posing as you, or bad faith reviews of your service posted by malcontents with axes to grind. Along the way they will need your help to keep them focused on the task of becoming converted to being your customer.

Approach to the Innermost Cave

At last, they have arrived. The journey has brought your potential customer all the way from cold lead right into your shop, whether brick and mortar or online. They stand before the final decision, method of payment at the ready.

The Supreme Ordeal

Will they buy or will they not? It may be easy to fill the cart and head to the checkout, but this final moment of purchase depends, largely, on how much of an ordeal your sign-up process is. If there are too many pages and too many questions, the experience begins to feel like a chore, giving the customer too much time to second-guess their purchase and opt out. But if they find your sales page smooth sailing, then they’ll be happy to pass through with ease.

Reward or Seizing the Sword

Throw confetti, they have made a purchase and you have made a customer. But while their journey from first contact to their first transaction may be at an end, your job is far from over. Now you move on to customer retention.

The Road Back

The most crucial time in the journey of a repeat customer is this period of first purchase afterglow. Your role during this time is to ensure that the joy of purchase remains, while also planting the seeds for a long and healthy relationship. It’s very easy to smother a customer or otherwise sour the relationship during these interactions, so make sure that you remain authentic to what enticed them to you in the first place.

Resurrection

Through your shared journey and the customer’s satisfaction with their purchase, they have become born anew and are ready to sing the praises of your interaction and offering.

Return with the Elixir

The customer’s world is changed for the better, thanks to you. They’re now a vocal advocate for your brand.

on cart abandonment
65% of hero quests tragically end at the Supreme Ordeal when shoppers ditch their carts at the checkout2 due to shipping costs, delivery times, or having to sign up. However, not all hope is lost. 45% of customers will open an abandoned cart email, with 50% going on to complete the purchase.

Written by Christopher Moriarty, editing by Natasha Velkova, 52 Words by Angelica Martin, key visual by Patrick Brennan, page built by Patrick Brennan & Alice Guo.
References
  1. Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) Pantheon Books.
  2. Khalid Saleh, Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics (14 April 2022) Invesp.

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