The exit experience.

I didn’t see the end of many baseball games as a kid.

My dad liked to leave by the top of the 8th inning, regardless of who was playing or what the score was.

“If we leave now, we can beat the traffic.”

Ah, the exit experience.

My dad would spend roughly the 5th through 8th innings planning an escape from the ballpark as if he was about to jump a barbwire fence out of Germany on a Triumph T60.

Exit experience.

The exit experience.

In many service experience situations, organizations — stadiums, movie theaters, museums — spend a lot time thinking about how to get you into the experience, but very little time thinking about the exit from that experience.

Working at a museum during high school we had a pretty regular rotation of positions. Service desk, entrance and exit.

The service desk and entrance were huge, impressive structures that attracted the eye and excited the senses. Employees loved working those positions because customers loved the experience of being there.

The exit?

The exit was hidden.

Shamed into a corner as if it had been running around and screaming like a 8 year-old boy through, well, through a museum.

It also connected directly to the gift shop.

Ah, nothing like forcing customers into the gift shop experience.

The two most popular questions for someone working the exit position were:

  1. Do I have to go through the gift shop?
  2. Where’s the exit?

I told you the exit was hidden.

Exits as an experience.

Think about exiting an venue — a movie theater, a baseball game, a theme park.

A few common things tend to happen:

  • a lot of people show up at once
  • most of the staff has retreated
    (often leaving only a few security guards)
  • customers are anywhere from happy to anxious to pissed (depending on the final score)

It is also an important part of the experience.

The last moment, the final memory, the difference between becoming a season ticket holder or cursing the name of Jay Fiedler for blowing the game in the 3rd quarter and now every damn Dolphins fan is on the Turnpike trying to get the hell out of here.

Sorry, I digress.

The exit experience is part of the service experience.

Unfortunately (see bullet 2 above) in many situations, the employees are not there to experience it. NASCAR races, football games, alumni banquets — your staff has worked a long day and has likely left before the customer.

Or, instead of being forgotten, the exit experience is just ignored (from the customer perspective).

The Denver Zoo is a wonderful day out for a family, but on a busy summer Saturday or a free day, the challenge is not seeing the elephants, but surviving the parking lot.

Fixing the exit.

Alright, let’s make this escape great.

A few ideas that we have implemented with clients to help improve the exit experience.

  • Clear signage. Seems like a simple idea, but don’t stop at the exit itself — ensure signage is clear and helpful out of the building, into the parking lot and as far as you can take the customer.
  • Provide comparative information. People leave sporting events early because they want to beat the traffic. But, if they have better information — drive time v. leave time, alternate routes, etc. — they might stay longer and reduce traffic.
  • Build a tiered exit experience. Think about the stages of leaving your building — the gift shop might already be there, but what about an outdoor playground only accessible via the exit (“come on kids, there is a playground out here!”) or art pieces scattered throughout the parking lot.
  • Monitor the experience. Handing out surveys does not count. Have staff specifically tasked with helping and monitoring the exit experience itself. Notes, photos, popular exit paths — get the context of the customer’s experience exiting your building.

The exit experience, an open door for improvement.


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