The Importance of the “Unhappy Path”

A road leading into a dark, cloudy future
Image Credit: © by-studio – Fotolia.com #157164548

When modelling processes and customer journeys, there is a tendency for organisations to focus on the ‘80/20’ rule and spend most of their time designing and refining the most commonly trodden  routes through the process—sometimes known as the ‘happy path’.  This ‘happy path’ typically assumes that the customer does everything at least broadly correctly, has the right information to hand and so forth—and focussing on the happy path enables us to ensure that the process is effective and efficient for a majority of cases.

 

Yet in our attempts to improve the ‘happy path’, we must not forget the alternative flows and exceptions that may occur.  The business must make a decision about the types of demand that it wishes (or is compelled) to deal with, and it is crucial that the process is built to handle that level of variety.  Just because something occurs infrequently doesn’t mean that it isn’t important.  In fact, some very ‘infrequent’ events might represent real ‘moments of truth’ where we have the opportunity to impress or frustrate the customer.

 

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