What do you think matters for the customer experience in 2013? Which trends will gather momentum in the new year?
Here are my top 5 trends for 2013.
1. The Customer Experience is Still About People
As important as data and analytics are for understanding what works and doesn't work when trying to connect with customers, it's also really important to remember that customers are people and numbers don't always fully capture the people part of social interactions.
What that means is that data is your opportunity to delight customers rather than antogonize them (e.g., How to Lose IBM Customers: Preposterous Verizon Customer Experience and How Not To Get More Business: 7 eMail Retail Experience Horrors!).
Data allows a business to be smarter as Trendwatching's 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013 highlights in the Data Myning Trend:
"In 2013 expect savvy shoppers to start reversing the flow, as consumers seek to own and make the most of their lifestyle data, and turn to brands that use this data to proactively offer customers help and advice on how to improve their behavior and/ or save money..."
Spend time understanding your customer. Give her choices so she can manage the relationship. Let her decide how many promotional emails to receive. Delight her with how observant and pro-active you are. Make her happy (see Happiness and Customer Experience: Interview with Bernd Schmitt).
2. Simplify the Customer Experience
Let's face it: we are all in information overload. If you've spent time understanding your customer, you'll have a good idea what specifically contributes to her overload. You'll ensure that you never send too many communications and you'll go out of your way to simplify your customer's experience.
Simplicity brings meaning, it builds loyalty and it creates happiness. (See Simplicity Matters in Brand Marketing: BRITE Conference 2012.)
In 5 Trends That Will Shape Digital Services In 2013, you'll notice two simplifying trends:
- K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, Stupid) - How good old-fashioned K.I.S.S. principles are making a comeback and
- A Personal Shopper For Everybody - The coming revolution in retail
Here's what the article describes re: the coming retail revolution:
"The key to retail success lies in creating experiences that make customers feel better. A shopping experience that feels smarter or easier can be more valuable for many customers than simply getting the best deal. Key factors that ensure success are increasingly going to be based on recognition, recommendation, follow-through, and support. Services like Intuit GoPayment and PayPal Here (both of which Fjord helped to design) are already revolutionizing commerce for small retailers by simplifying payment, and the next natural step is to offer digital customer relationship management for these small merchants.
Shop staff will increasingly be equipped with tablets or smartphones to deliver improved individual service, and opt-in location-based services will help customers find precisely what they’re looking for, when they’re looking to buy, and will enable them to pay on the spot without queuing. Virtual shops, in other words, will also take hold in the physical world."
(Definitely read the entire article; you'll enjoy it!)
3. Quality is Better than Quantity in the Customer Experience
Yes, we live in a frenzied environment where the pressure to add Twitter followers and Facebook fans is intense. However, quality still trumps quantity, just as passion is better than lukewarm reaction. Passion is hard to generate with large numbers.
The new consumer zeitgeist prefers less stuff, favoring higher quality over cheaper disposible items. Read through Sustainable Brands London's Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability which draws on the views of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States to reveal new market trends.
The first trend the report details is Rethinking Consumption: Consuming Less. Consuming Better. More specifically, "nearly two-thirds of respondents across six markets (66%) say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations,” and 65% say they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society.”
4. Unplugging Makes for Perspective on Customer Experience
In Business Innovation and Creativity Via John Cleese, Cleese makes the point that creativity requires periods of intense focus - without interruptions, without being always on. Creativity demands that you unplug.
Unplugging is somewhat controversial given a trend such as Mobile Moments from Trendwatching's 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013 which states "For those wondering where ‘mobile’ will head next, one behavioral insight should give you plenty to run with: in 2013, consumers will look to their mobile devices to maximize absolutely every moment, multi-if-not-hypertasking their experiences, purchases and communications..."
At the same time, we can't sustain being always-on which means that at some point our mobile device with ensure that we do so on a regular basis.
In the meantime, there's the unplug mat described in this article by DANIELE FIANDACA: WHY WE NEED TO DISCONNECT IN THE WORKPLACE to address head on the "constant connectivity (which) is turning into a malaise of digital dependency."
Check out the JWT social trend called adult recess...
5. Don't Ever Forget About Trust
Trust remains critically important to the customer experience. We see it in the value customers place on reviews and ratings; their desire to understand the big picture from peers - known and unknown - before making a purchase. My favorite quote about trust comes from Ford Report Finds Opportunities In Social Shifting, which says about trust "First on the list is trust, or "trust is the new black."
Finally, tweet worthy pearls of wisdom quotes from Lessons For 2013: Business Wisdom From Airbnb To Zappos. Here are my favorites:
- For any consumer brand today, it is incumbent upon the company to create relevancy. @Starbucks #lessons2013 http://bit.ly/WgHCy7
- Listen to your customer both in person and online, & make changes to fine-tune the experience.@RevelResorts #lessons2013 http://bit.ly/UbbhLx
- In 2013, I'm going to take one day a month to visit non-technology companies to get inspiration. @clarashih #lessons2013 http://bit.ly/S6NVpN
- It's very easy to think that you are the expert on your own product. The true experts are your customers. @JamieJWong #lessons2013
What do you think of these 5 customer experience trends? What would you add? And why?
Image Credit: Grandmother Predictions on Flickr.
How much do you think about your customer's user experience?
With more happening online and via digital tools, no retailer or business person can ignore what goes into customer interactions, and whether those are successful - for customers and for the business. After all, how intuitive your online interface is reflects on how thoughtful your business is. The more seamless the user experience, the more likely your customer is to be loyal and recommend your products to others.
[As a refresher, be sure to read about Inbound Marketing and ZMOT: Perfect Together? It details how much research and exploration happens before a buying decision takes place, and how much of that happens online.]
To make my point, I'll share with you the user experience that my Dad and I had using Quicken.
For perspective, my Dad has been using Quicken since the late 90s. He convinced me to adopt it shortly thereafter. He talked me into using TurboTax, too. I now use QuickBooks for business as well as Quicken and TurboTax. In other words, we are knowledgeable users.
Over the past two years, my Dad and I have become even tighter Quicken accomplices. We regularly work side-by-side grappling with questions and inconsistencies. I've observed how he interacts with the software and where his user experience fails.
Although a quick reaction might be to blame his age, the more thoughtful conclusion is that more could be done with Quicken's user experience to simplify it.
Perhaps the same is true for yours.
Here are some specifics.
Quicken User Visibility
Although I've been able to increase the Quicken register font size, menu options aren't affected. They remain difficult to read and small in comparison to the register information. Each dropdown menu is packed with choices, too, making it difficult to digest all that's there.
When you design your visuals, make sure they are visible. Is your lighting adequate instore? Is the contrast clean and clear? Is there the opportunity to easily enlarge the font? Don't assume everyone has 18-year old eyes.
Quicken User Simplicity
Quicken does a lot of things really well. What it hasn't done is create an Apple user experience which delights because of simplicity. The program offers many options, some of which seem to pop up out of nowhere and become impossible to remove. Each new update creates new user challenges for figuring out how to do normal transactions, using once tried and true steps or icons. [For that matter, the file backup process and the installation of updates could be simpler!]
When you design your user experience, are you thinking about how to simplify steps and explain complexity? Are you consistent over time? Do you provide friendly guidance on how users can evolve as you evolve?
Quicken User Failsafes
Given the important role that Quicken plays in managing personal finances, wouldn't it be wonderful if it helped prevent user mishaps?
For example, what if it helped eliminate or reduce typos in frequently used check entries? That would help my Dad. What if categories were more rigid? I'm now manually removing dozens of inaccurate categories he created.
I wish the online transactions reconciliation process were more intuitive. To make corrections, the user must exit, manually make the correction, then return. Not always easy to do. The default automatically generates balance adjustments which don't help reconcile results.
When you think about your user experience, have you exposed yourself to all of the steps customers might? Have you addressed potential mishaps?
I believe strongly in walking in your customer's shoes. There's nothing as powerful as trying to imagine and be on the receiving end of your own customer experience to identify improvements and innovations. Unless you can provide value and meaning, the fanciest tool in the world is useless. Only by experiencing what others do can you simplify the steps and discover solutions and improvements.
All of this is becoming increasingly important.
Our population is ageing. Yet, this ageing population retains significant purchasing power. How can we provide greater benefit and an easier user experience?
Our population uses products in ways we may not have anticipated. How do we keep an open mind?
Our entire population faces an onslaught of information, interruption, choices and chaos. When making purchase decisions, do you think complexity will win? Or rather the simple, effective user experience?
Think about what you do to and for your customers when they come to your store, showroom or office. How easy are you to deal with? If they call you, how friendly and helpful is your greeting? If they come to you online, will they want to experience more of you given their user experience?
It all flows together for your customers. Imagine fully understanding their user experience, what do you think might happen?
Are you ready?
Consider reading How To Create a Home Page That Connects With Customers: 3 Guidelines which recaps HubSpot's Josh Porter's presentation about simplicity in Home Page design.
Welcome to the 7th annual Bathroom Blogfest, focused on the customer experience!
This year's theme - Still Climbing Out - seemed particularly relevant when I read through NY Library To Adopt Ad-Supported Toilet Paper and came across the last paragraph:
"Lettieri was surprised to see articles on her toilet paper selection, of all things, spread across the news media: they have appeared as far afield as NPR and New Delhi television. “We did a magnificent renovation here, and we do all these programs, and we get all this publicity because of toilet paper,” ..."
This notion, of drawing attention to something important - the customer experience - using a topic as universal yet also as voyeuristic as bathrooms, was at the heart of the very first Bathroom Blogfest.
At the same time, it highlights how we undervalue what matters [in the case of the NY Library, a magnificent renovation] unless there's a titillating element. Or a humorous angle.
Do you agree?
I think we're 'still climbing out' on our commitment to the customer experience. We have a ways to go, but there's more attention being focused on bathrooms, especially in public spaces.
- I admire that Cintas believes in the importance of the bathroom and customer experience [see the Best Restroom Contest]. Talk about raising awareness for what a public bathroom space can aspire to!
And, on a more serious note, imagine the possibilities associated with reinventing the bathroom. The Coming Global Toilet Boom will have you thinking about the future.
Although we're just getting going in focusing on the customer experience, 'still climbing out' holds. Despite the resolutions and the true successes, situations such as 'United Breaks Guitars' or How to Lose IBM Customers: Preposterous Verizon Customer Experience are more the norm than the exception.
How would you ensure that you actually climb out and deliver a memorable customer experience?
Let me know in the comments!
If you come across other interesting bathroom examples - especially those with intriguing visuals - won't you pin them to the board I created for the Bathroom Blogfest?
Happy Bathroom Blogfest 2012!
How to Lose a (Lot of) Customer(s) in 3 Easy Steps, or Verizon Snubs IBM
We recently heard from a retired IBM executive about a recent experience he had attempting to get a discount from Verizon Wireless in regards to their “Retired IBM Employees” program.
It was sad, funny, preposterous and fairly hopeless all at once and serves as a reminder of all that goes wrong where best-laid-plans get put into practice.
Our Hero, having heard that Verizon offered a 10% discount as mentioned above, entered a Verizon store, confirmed that this discount was available as described, and attempted to secure that discount for a phone and service. As the salesperson was writing up the invoice, our retiree was asked to produce his IBM ID card, which he did, whereupon he was told that Verizon could not accept this card, because it wasn’t a Photo ID.
After patiently explaining that none of the 220,000 retired IBM Employees had Photo ID cards, our would-be customer was told that he should get IBM to issue them or Verizon could not offer the discount. At this point, the salesperson was asked to call a manager, who then confirmed the requirement – No Discount without Photo ID. When asked what he thought the likelihood was that IBM would issue such cards just to satisfy Verizon, the manager declined to say, suggesting that it did not matter, and that there was no one else to talk to about it…
I wonder what Verizon Executives actually think of this.
Does it matter? Do they know that their program has been hijacked by Redtape? Would they agree with their store sales manager’s decision? 220,000 potential customers denied, and sales lost… Hmmmm.
So what were the 3 Easy Steps to Lose a Lot of IBM Customers?
1) Implement a Policy that Cannot be Satisfied in Practice
2) Ignore the Customers and their Situation at the Store
3) Do not Communicate with the Troops Who Implement Policy
And I suppose there is a 4th: Provide no means of Escalation at the Store Level for Customer Satisfaction.
Gee, I guess that does it.
Thank you, Ted Whittemore! Nice job, Verizon!
Have you encountered a similar situation? Have you been on the receiving end of ridiculous Red Tape?
For those of you needing more perspective, consider United Breaks Guitars by musician Dave Carroll who shared the song and the full United Breaks Guitars story with us at BRITE, with hat tip to Bill Buyok who recently experienced a similarly lousy United situation.
Image Credit: Red Tape Manufacturers Brace for Government Shutdown | Dear The Onion
[This article titled appeared in the July 4/11, 2011 issue of Floor Covering Weekly.]
Your marketplace: is it designed for experts or for consumers?
By Christine B. Whittemore
“Today's marketplace is designed for experts, but we aren't all experts.”
Sheena Iyengar, author The Art of Choosing
BRITE ’11 Conference
Who is your marketplace or retail store designed for? Is it for experts or for someone with little knowledge – let’s say a consumer?
Imagine stepping into the cockpit of a passenger jet and having to fly the plane despite no prior knowledge or training. How would you make sense of the gauges and instruments? How would you know what’s critical and what’s not? How would you interpret instructions from the control tower? The situation would be impossible unless you were flying with an expert pilot.
A place designed for experts makes no sense without specific knowledge or training about what’s within. Otherwise, it overwhelms and repels. It offers dense technical information that can’t easily be reconciled with finding a perfect solution. It generates feelings of inadequacy, ignorance and frustration.
For an expert, that same landscape is comforting and filled with discoveries, camaraderie and easy-to-evaluate solutions. Experts easily sense common patterns or differences, and can make value judgments based on preference, relevance and knowledge. That expert pilot would make immediate sense of the otherwise mystifying gauges and instruments and intuitively know how to proceed safely.
How many of our flooring customers are experts? How many feel comfortable in the expert-focused retail marketplace we’ve created?
Many consumers purchase flooring infrequently [possibly every 7 to 10 years] and, if they remember, most of what they learned the last time is irrelevant given changes in product offerings. Most feel anxious about making mistakes and are on guard because they expect to feel stupid and patronized or even deceived by sales representatives. Although they have armed themselves with research, everything about the retail experience reinforces the fact that they aren’t experts.
Imagine that our airliner’s pilot is incapacitated and you have to land the plane. An expert in the control tower would identify the controls to pay attention to, group them into areas of interest, and coach you in sequences of actions using those controls. So by careful instruction, you can manage an expert’s job.
Similarly, Sheena Iyengar, whom I quote above, recommends three techniques for helping customers make sense of a marketplace designed for experts.
1. Carefully trim or cut your product offerings. Doing so carefully can increase sales and improve profitability. It also eliminates redundant options for customers. Trader Joe’s strategically curates its product selection offering only 4,000 SKUs compared to 50,000 SKUs carried by traditional groceries.
2. Categorize using your expertise with the product category to make meaning of the choices available and simplify the decision making process. It’s invaluable for novices and comes naturally to experts. Best Cellars groups wine into 8 easy to understand categories, offering more information and choices within each category. Critical with this technique is focusing on how to be useful to the chooser, rather than the creator of the category. [Does organizing a store in terms of soft and hard surfaces make sense when customers rarely come in specifically asking about flooring for their hard or soft room?]
3. Condition for complexity. Think of it as methodical coaching or hand-holding to get your customer comfortable and engaged in the process of dealing with many choices. Iyengar recommends engaging customers with ‘shallow’ questions at first and then proceeding to more involved options. As a result, customers don’t become emotionally exhausted early on, deciding then to opt out of the decision-making process. Added bonus: satisfaction with choices made increase significantly [read: no buyer’s remorse!].
One last bit of wisdom to consider: the ideal number of choices that our perception and memory can handle is “the magical number 7 plus or minus 2”. Although experts can handle more in their area of expertise, anytime we as novices are faced with more than 5 to 9 options, our brains shut down and we walk away.
If your retail marketplace is designed for experts, how do you help your customers navigate choices? How would you apply Iyengar’s three techniques of trimming, categorizing, and conditioning to transform your retail experience so it welcomes new customers as well as expert ones?
Remember, your goal is to land the plane, not crash it.
I had a nice surprise when I came across an article from Terrapinn's Total Customer Blog - which focuses on 'Strategy, innovation and ROI for marketing and CRM professionals'. It included a listing of five customer-focused blogs to follow, including Flooring The Consumer!
Here's more detail so you can go explore...
Listed in the 5 blogs you should follow in Loyalty Marketing, alongside each's principle [or first listed] writer, are:
and Loyalty Truth
which focuses on loyalty marketing and customer experience. I enjoyed reading about Multi-tasking, Entitlement are Big Challenges for Marketers
and Is Avis Still Trying Harder
Jill Manser and the Loyalty Blog focus intensely on loyalty programs. The blog offers "fresh ideas for building profitable customer relationships." Check out First Impression Critical for Nurturing Customer Loyalty.
Mila D'Antonio contributes to Think Customers: The 1to1 Blog. I like the emphasis on the customer experience. See Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Digital Customer Experience. Here's an article top-of-mind for many retailers: Turning the Threat of Showrooming Into a Competitive Advantage.
No list dealing with customers and customer loyalty would be complete without Customers Rock! and my friend Becky Carroll whom you may remember from The Hidden Power of Your Customers, Becky Carroll Interview.
Finally, Flooring The Consumer rounds out this list. What a thrill! The description reads: "A slight skew towards the world of women/inbound marketing from “Chief Simplifier” CB Whittemore."
Which customer experience or loyalty blogs do you follow?
How satisfied are your customers? Do you know or, do you simply assume that customer satisfaction with you is high?
Cynthia Dean, General Manager of Nufloors Coquitlam in British Columbia, addresses this matter in How satisfied are your customers? on the Surfaces Blog.
She writes: "I remember being in a discussion with a group of flooring retailers, and I heard one store owner comment, “I know I have a very high customer satisfaction rating because I hardly ever get any complaints”. Really? We know from research that only about 6% of unsatisfied customers actually complain. These unhappy customers are far more likely to stop shopping with us, or worse yet, tell all their friends and family not to shop with us. We may never know that our customer was unhappy."
Cynthia recommends - in no uncertain terms - simply asking the customer rather than guessing at customer satisfaction.
She then shares what her organization learned after conducting a first customer satisfaction survey.
It shouldn't surprise you that Nufloors Coquitlam surveys its customers at least once a year, now using an anonymous online survey.
Cynthia is amongst the wisest retailers and business professionals I have met. Definitely read her entire post.
If you'd like to read more of her wisdom, check out What Goes Into a Thoughtful Retail Experience? and Connecting With Customers: Nufloors Advice.
How do you determine customer satisfaction?
If you survey, what do you ask?
What have you learned that was most surprising?
This issue of Retail Experience in the News for 9/7/12
includes research reports about shopping consumers, nifty retail ideas - including two from IKEA and ideas on how to combat showrooming.
82pc consumers want to engage retail brands via mobile: study - Consumers are striving to communicate with brands, and most of them are using mobile to do so. However, most consumers feel that brands are either unresponsive or do not care about their needs or wants.
Study: Consumers Shop More, And In More Places - A new study from the Hartman Group finds that there are major changes afoot in the way Americans forage for food, including frequency, channels and the way they define value.
100 page research report on the Affluent Male: What his online behavior can teach
luxury brand marketers
Retail Experience Ideas
Retail Shopping Is Taking Off at the Airport Malls’ New Pitch: Come for the Experience
- Glimcher Realty Trust, which owns and manages shopping malls, is experimenting with making them Internet-proof. The company concedes that if shoppers can buy something online, they will. So it is trying to fill one of its malls, in Scottsdale, Ariz., with businesses that do more than sell stuff.
Best Buy's Richfield store seeks to connect on new scale - Best Buy offers a new way to engage higher-end customers.. "Best Buy, which is now testing Connected Stores in the Twin Cities and San Antonio, expects the format not only to retain the shoppers but to attract new customers, especially ones willing to go premium."
IKEA PLANS TO DEVELOP BUDGET HOTELS - The Swedish retailer’s latest offering will be a line of affordable hotels in Europe offering a boutique experience. IKEA creates tiny rooms on Tokyo Streets [pics}
Integrating Offline/Online Retail Experience
Brick-and-Mortars Take on Showrooming - But there is hope and opportunity for retailers who reduce the risk of showrooming by making their websites more helpful to consumers doing online research prior to visiting a store.
Teen Stores Try Texts as Gr8 Nu Way to Reach Out - Like many parents who have turned to texting to reach their teens, some youth-oriented fashion brands like Charlotte Russe, Claire's Boutique and Vans are finding that young people are most accessible by text. Retailers say teens and twentysomethings react to marketing texts with alacrity—and with far higher response rates than to emails.
Do you agree that not all consumers are created equal? Guess how Jetblue handles whiners? Do your old customer service ways still work?
All that and more in this week's Retail Experience in the News links for 8/17/12.
Let us know of your favorite retail experience stories and we'll include them in next week's roundup!
Retail Experience and the Consumer
What Women Want – The Infographic - Absolutely awesome and filled with insights!
Not All Consumers Are Created Equal - Customer Service Is Important, but Focus on Those With Most Buying Power
When do summer shoppers splurge online? - Online retail sales may slump during the summer, but that doesn’t mean shoppers aren’t occasionally willing to drop the big bucks. New York-based data analytics startup SumAll shares several e-commerce trends for the dog days of summer.
Why don't the old customer service ways work anymore?
Retail Experience Ideas
Rural Groceries Find New Ways to Stay Alive - In some parts of America, a dying grocery store can threaten a town's well-being
Increase Online Sales: A 10-Step Checklist - Make sure users purchase what's in their shopping carts before they leave your site. Adopt these user experience best practices.
Integrating Offline/Online Retail Experience
Battle of the Digital Brands: JCPenney vs. Kohl’s - Overall, JCP is winning in social media. Although, the numbers would say otherwise, from a social media standpoint, JCP’s social strategy follows all of the best practices for engagement. Its posts are well-thought out and do a good job of delighting consumers and addressing their needs. From a mobile perspective, it’s a tie. Both retailers are doing different things on mobile, but each is doing them equally well. Both experiences are user friendly.
UNIQLO TAKES OVER PINTEREST CREATING ANIMATED MOSAICS - The clothing brand choreographed a sequence of mass-pinning on Pinterest to create a giant images promoting their new line of mesh clothing.
Four retailers who translated social media into revenue - Several retailers are getting the combo right, including DressBarn, Swisa, a high-end beauty retailer, Gymboree Play & Music, an offshoot of the children's clothing line, and Tretorn, a Swedish outdoor retailer. They each found a way to use social media to drive sales and traffic.
How JetBlue Deals with Social Media Whiners - "JetBlue, for example, has one customer service policy that it adheres to. And it uses it across the board, regardless of how consumers are getting in touch. There have been instances where the company has had to revamp its policy. Consistency is really important via social media channels, since they are so public. “If you are going to do something for one person be prepared to do it for everyone, whether they have a lot of followers or not,” he said."
Consider subscribing to Flooring The Consumer Blog!
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
In his book The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty, Carmine Gallo refers to Apple's Five Steps of Service.
Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
Probe politely to understand all the customer's needs.
Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
[Source: Secrets From Apple's Genius Bar: Full Loyalty, No Negativity]
If you've been on the receiving end of Apple's legendary service, you have surely experienced how effective the five steps are.
What happens, though, in a retail environment where people aren't at the forefront of the experience? As in IKEA.
I regularly visit IKEA and did so this weekend with my daughter. We were looking to buy a desk for her. Other than two cashiers [one for the cafeteria, the other for checkout], we interacted with one person who helped locate via a computer system an item which had been moved to a new location in the warehouse, a strong person who helped us get one particularly heavy box onto a cart and another who helped us get the boxes into my car trunk.
Verbal exchanges were minimal. Employees weren't looking to build any relationships; they were simply doing their job as efficiently as possible.
Despite this non-Apple-like people experience, I consider that IKEA creates a retail experience as effective and conducive to loyalty as Apple does.
They do so through product, signage, relentless commitment to providing high quality home furnishings at tremendous value across languages and culture.
Upon parking your car, you are immediately greeted via bold, friendly signage reminding you of the IKEA return policy, IKEA food options, products ideas...
Upon entering the store, you can take a pencil, paper ruler and store guide to help keep track of products of interest. You can pick up a catalog and peruse it in the cafeteria as you eat your lunch before setting off to explore [you can park your kids while you shop or bring them along]. None of it is forced on you. However, it is politely available to help make the most of your visit.
A magical maze filled with completely accessorized vignettes invites you to explore and consider your needs - big and small. The solutions are plentiful, well thought out and exude hipness, coolness, practicality and warmth. Every product is available to take home that day, and options available to help deliver and/or assemble for you.
Can't pick up the box from the warehouse area? Someone magically appears! Need string to attach a box to your car? No worries, it's there ready for you.
As you leave, signage bids you a fond farewell!
IKEA has implemented the IKEA Family program which offers discounts, free coffee, deals of the month all communicated via regular emails - another way to nurture relationships with customers and invite them to return.
A few other observations:
- The instructions IKEA provided for assembling my daughter's desk [we purchased 3 separate pieces] were outstanding! Interestingly, they included not a single word - all images - making them effective regardless of language preference.
- The quality of the pieces - drawer mechanisms, screw attachments, etc. - was impressive.
- The overall product was well thought-out. The hutch for the desk even includes a white board.
- The end result looks fantastic!
I hand it to IKEA for creating a retail experience that is as effective as Apple's while taking a less people-intensive different approach.
Reactions? Do you agree with my assessment?
PS: You might enjoy another article inspired by Carmine Gallo's Apple Experience: 3 Steps For Getting More Customers While Juggling.