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Customers generally want “smooth” journeys in instrumental service categories (e.g., banking, insurance, transportation) but “sticky” journeys in recreational service categories (e.g., dating apps, group fitness services, gaming). Firms can facilitate smooth journeys by “streamlining” the customer journey, or sticky journeys by providing “endless variation” along the customer journey.
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Siebert, Anton, Ahir Gopaldas, Andrew Lindridge, and Cláudia Simões (2020), “Customer Experience Journeys: Loyalty Loops Versus Involvement Spirals,” Journal of Marketing, 84 (4), 45–66.
Customer experience management (CXM) research is increasingly concerned with the long-term evolution of customer experience journeys across multiple service cycles. A dominant smooth journey model makes customers’ lives easier, with a cyclical pattern of predictable experiences that builds customer loyalty over time, also known as a loyalty loop. An alternate sticky journey model makes customers’ lives exciting, with a cyclical pattern of unpredictable experiences that increases customer involvement over time, conceptualized here as an involvement spiral. Whereas the smooth journey model is ideal for instrumental services that facilitate jobs to be done, the sticky journey model is ideal for recreational services that facilitate never-ending adventures. To match the flow of each journey type, firms are advised to encourage purchases during the initial service cycles of smooth journeys, or subsequent service cycles of sticky journeys. In multi-service systems, firms can sustain customer journeys by interlinking loyalty loops and involvement spirals. The article concludes with new journey-centered questions for CXM research, as well as branding research, consumer culture theory, consumer psychology, and transformative service research.
Special thanks to Kelley Gullo and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.
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