Imagine for a minute that you make a living by owning and running a Ferris wheel at a fairground…

You spend your days competing against other fairground ride owners to get visitors to ride your Ferris wheel. For hours on end, you’re shouting into the crowd until your voice is hoarse. Your ride isn’t for everybody. The thrill-seekers might prefer the waltzers or the dodgems. Those scared of heights might head for the carousel. Others may prefer the frights of the ghost train. But your effort pays off and you attract some riders.

You explain the safety procedures, buckle them in, check they’re ready and send them on their way, wishing them an enjoyable ride.

Round and round they go, most of them enjoying the views, the rotation, the escape . Others seem uneasy with the rocking of the cab, the height of the wheel, the stopping and starting as others get on and off. Again, you’re reminded that your ride isn’t for everybody. You watch them closely, trying to assess when they’re ready to get off. Most of the time you’re watching happy faces starting their next rotation, but sometimes you see a ‘1 more time’ signal, other times you’re the one giving the signal.

As they make their final descent, you get ready to unbuckle them, help them out of the cab and wish them a pleasant day. You watch their body language and where they head to next. Those with wobbly knees may head for the nearest bench. Others may head to see the prizes on offer at the hook a duck. Ah well, you know your ride’s not for everyone, but as long as your money wallet is jingling, you’re happy.

Over time, you realise there’s a certain type of person who typifies your ideal rider and you learn to spot them in the crowd so you don’t need to shout so loud. Very early on, you can see what they like the most – the rocking cab? The stop at the top? The safety of only stopping close to the ground? – and, where possible, you give them more of it. These people don’t want to get off the ride… in fact, they’re calling to their mates from the top inviting them to join the ride.

And then the penny drops.

You know that you’re going to make more money by developing and delivering an unforgettable experience for your best riders. An experience that they are going to walk away talking about, inviting their friends to join them on and coming back to again and again. An experience that has people queuing around the corner to ride on. The sort of experience no-one wants to end.

And once you’ve delivered that, and your money wallet is weighing you down with all those admittance fees, you’re probably going to start to think about upgrading to a bigger wheel. Maybe even investing in a second one? So you can deliver this same unforgettable experience to more visitors and hear even more money jingling.

That’s a great story. But I don’t own a Ferris wheel. What’s this got to do with me… or people experience?

The way I see it, regardless of what type of agency you’re trying to grow, the process is the same:

  1. You attract suitable recruits to join the ride
  2. You give them everything they need to get the most out of the ride
  3. They ‘ride the wheel’ – going through the familiar cycles as many times as they, and you, decide
  4. You give them a helping hand off the ride as they leave

And the more you focus on the experience of these steps, the more you’ll see the results in your pockets, with people staying longer, inviting other suitable recruits to join and recommending you, long after they’ve got off.

The analogy doesn’t end there.
Read more employee experience lessons from a Ferris wheel owner here.

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