One interesting phenomenon of travelling on my own is that I can spend significant periods of time not talking to anyone.

Most tickets are bought from machines or online; machines with multilingual options, and generally very usable user interfaces.  Supermarkets have fast self-checkout lanes. Google Translate on my phone answers all incidental "what does  that mean?" questions.

This phenomenon is increasingly not limited to solo travellers either. As we start living more individual lives, following our own time tables, chasing what is meaningful to ourselves, and socialising more with people in far flung places, we do end up talking to fewer people in our daily routines.

From a customer experience perspective this means it is more important than ever before to get it right first time. The few minutes of interaction a customer has with your system or personnel may well be the only face to face interaction that customer has that day.

Not talking is wonderfully meditative. It clears my head. And I can better follow my thoughts. Consequently I become more sensitive to subsequent interactions with others.

Did the automated system just worked? Did it confuse me?

Was the service person attentive to my needs? Did they smile with their eyes?

The systems surrounding the interaction is part of the experience too. Without a clear queuing system, a busy restaurant stands to lose customers who get confused and pissed off -- you don't want to piss off hungry people!

And who has not seen the movie scene where the cashier uses the public address system to request a price check on some embarrassing item!

How can you really make each encounter count?

Can you make them laugh, feel good about themselves, feel connected and empowered during that one single touch point?

Because if you can, you have earned their full attention for that day. No amount of conventional advertising can do that!

Image: Buying condoms via Shutterstock.