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About C.B. Whittemore

About C.B. Whittemore

Flooring The Consumer History

Flooring The Consumer is a marketing blog about improving the consumer experience, particularly in flooring.

The blog was launched in June 2006. It is featured as a case study on this site with more detail on the Simple Marketing Blog.

If you're curious about our archives from 2006 to 2011, visit Flooring The Consumer.

Flooring The Consumer Explores Getting Found In-Store and Online, aka the Customer Retail Experience

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Duane Reade Customers Want Therapy from Retail Experience

Duane Reade customer retail experience

If you've spent time in New York City, you're probably familiar with Duane Reade, the drugstore chainYour memories of that drugstore chain may be similar to mine: intensely utilitarian, not necessarily fun and certainly not a destination for relaxation or therapy. Not exactly the kind of retail experience to inspire, engage or generate much enthusiasm for.

In fact, probably one more likely to resonate with the tales described in I Hate Duane Reade: Service from Hell... 

However, on recent trips through Port Authority in midtown Manhattan, I've encountered a new Duane Reade. One with wide aisles, a welcoming food section, and much more ambiance than I remember. One with a surprisingly pleasant retail experience...

The transformation was such that I was eager to read The Re-Education of Duane Reade: A Drugstore as Retail, Therapy and learn more about the reinvention of the Duane Reade retail experience.

The article offers a fascinating overview of the turnaround of Duane Reade - which ranked dead last in customer satisfaction to one where customers say it's a place for "a mom moment -- a me-time moment" or "they are like a literal urban oasis" to describe it. 

How did Duane Reade reinvent its retail experience?

It's still a Duane Reade drugstore and communicates as much so that customers recognize that they are in a Duane Reade. (The same goes for the organization's website.) What's new includes:

  • Wide aisles so shoppers relax and stay longer (i.e., be sure to channel retail anthropologist Paco Underhill!)
  • Focus on relaxation with warmer fluorescent lighting, landscape windows and perfumerie.
  • Make it a triumph of phsychographics, "a research field specifically tailored to the psychological states of customers in retail environments" - aka focus on your buyer personas and make them very comfortable.
  • Note the blue, green violet color scheme because these are calming, peaceful, happy colors in marked contrast to the previous red "agitating" color palette 
  • Different branding to cummunicate product quality (check out the Food and Drink options from the Duane Reade website).
  • An ambiance of safeness
  • And, a vastly improved social media presence, including a Twitter feed which promotes local events (e.g., local readings at Housing Works) and has developed a particularly strong following for a NYC-only drugstore!

The article specifically refers to the VIP NYC bloggers contest which, according to Collective Bias, "drove over 47,500 brand mentions, resulting in 195MM impressions of Duane Reade content online at a CPM of $1.28 to generate the same number of impressions, and achieve similar reach in traditional media, the retailer would have had to purchase over $4.9 MM in ads at a $25.13 CPM from USA Today, for example... " Not bad to have savvy brand ambassadors on your side!

(Also see Shopper Marketing's Duane Reade Now More Social.)

Although not specifically detailed in the article, Duane Reade's website also creates a valuable retail experience - albeit online. The website includes health information relating to food, exercise, drugs as well as links to community support groups.

Be sure to check out the new Duane Reade stores on their website. You'll find photos, valuable information and surprises. Growler bar, anyone? In fact, the local focus reminds me of another retail experience which embraces the character of individual neighborhoods... By the way, I really like on the Duane Reade's home page the invitation to speak using one's native tongue (see 'we speak your language'). The revamped slogan is "NY Living made easy".

What I find fascinating about Duane Reade reinventing its retail experience

  • How important to success having a robust online presence, via an engaging and informative website and through social network participation. 
  • The focus on having a physical presence which is memorable for good reasons and offers more than just a convenience - here relaxation and therapy
  • The willingness to address issues head on
  • Creating a group of brand ambassadors to help get the word out and also obtain ongoing feedback. 
What's your reaction? How might you apply what Duane Reade has done to your physical retail experience and to your online presence?

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Intuit: Innovation, Customer Experience, BRITE 13


Innovation and Customer Experience at BRITE ConferenceAt this year's 2013 BRITE ConferenceKaaren Hanson, Vice President of Innovation at Intuit, shared deep thoughts on Creating a culture of rapid experimentation. Given my passion for the customer experience and innovation - and my personal experiences using Intuit products, I was spell-bound!

What I enjoyed most was the emphasis on making customer focused innovation everyone's responsibility. It's collaborative, infectious, productive and profitable; it involves rapid and ongoing experimentation. (Customers, by the way, can be internal as well as external.) It's also something that everyone in the company can focus on thanks to 2 days per month of unstructured time which can be banked for later use.

Intuit's innovative culture of rapid experimentation recognizes that many right answers exist. All of which can be reached faster and more cheaply than by focusing only on one right answer (aka the traditional approach). Hanson referred to simple lightweight experiments - as opposed to agonizing for elusive perfection. It's best to get started. Key to getting started is having the right size team, aka "2 pizza teams". That's 4 to 5 people; any more and that's too big a team.

Hanson refers to this culture or rapid customer experience focused innovation as Design for Delight (note D4D in images below). It is based on the principles of:

  • Deep customer empathy for inspiration.
  • Rapid experimentation with customers
  • Going broad with ideas to go narrow 

Brite 13 Intuit innovation principles

Intuit's Principles for Design for Delight

Brite 13 Intuit customer empathy

This deep immersion into the customer's world enables Intuit to identify issues, problems and pain points. (Note the questions to ask in Design for Delight: Going on a Customer Safari and Creating Customer Journey Lines.)

Brite 13 Intuit Design for Delight

The end result of Design for Delight and rapid experimentation is threefold: delighted customers, engaged employees and growth. Not a bad combination! In 2008, Intuit employees engaged in 4 experiments; in 2012, this had increased to 1300+ experiments encompassing all departements.

Ms. Hanson shared a success story which you see captured in the visual below titled Mobile Bazaar. The goal of this program was to create a new business that would help farmers be successful. The vision consisted of figuring out how to raise farmer incomes by 10%. The team examined several options, including an ebay marketplace. Of primary concern was how to bring greater transparency to the farmers' marketplace.

As a result of deep customer empathy and research, coming up with many ideas to consider and rapidly experimenting with customers, the team came up with a solution: texting the prices of produce being sold.

Brite 13 Intuit customer experience success

In the BRITE Conference presentation, Kaaren Hanson ended with three marvelous lessons:

1. Fall in love with the problem rather than the solution

2. Scrappy doesn't = crappy

3. There's no right answer other than getting started

For added perspective on the presentation, I recommend the following resources:

(BTW, you'll enjoy this overview article for perspective on the entire Brite Conference 2013: Brands, Innovation, Technology – Pt 1, with a section on Hanson's Culture of Rapid Experimentation presentation.)

What do you think about Design for Delight and what Intuit has created? How do you focus on your customer experience? How do you nurture innovation? Could you see embracing a culture of rapid experimentation?

Let me know in the comments.  


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Why Customers Want Transparency: Example Healthcare


shopping cartDo you enjoy having the wool pulled over your eyes when you are shopping, while trying to make an informed purchase decision? I don't and suspect you don't either. That's why I want to explore why customers want transparency using a recent healthcare example.

I admit, choosing healthcare is extreme since, for most consumers, it hasn't been a typical shopping item unless the procedure isn't covered. 

However, healthcare is morphing into one where the purchaser must be as actively involved as s/he would be in buying business IT services, college tuition, a home and other equally high price point goods or services. The involvement inevitably requires research, comparison of options and an understanding of price and benefits. In other words, transparency.

Searching for Transparency for Healthcare Procedures

Let's say I have to purchase an X-ray or an ultrasound. What about a colonoscopy? How much will it cost?

Do you know that you cannot get a straight answer before the procedure? Either from the imaging facility or from the healthcare insurance company. (Interestingly, you can search online for ranges. Why can't the facilities doing the procedures or the insurance companies covering the procedures do the same?)

How are you supposed to determine how procedures add up against your deductibles? How are you supposed to manage your expenditures? How can you evaluate different levels of insurance coverage and possibly buy more?

At the same time, how can you trust the physician recommending those procedures when he or she can't (or won't) provide insight into the financial implications of the recommendations?

Or when you realize that pricing structures vary depending on whether you are insured or not insured...

As a customer spending significant resources, I want transparency. Don't you?

Do Big Healthcare Companies Understand the Need for Transparency?

My healthcare insurance provider has invited me to participate as a research panelist (note: no benefits other than being able to share these stories with you :-)) most recently to provide feedback on various marketing treatments in anticipation of the launch of Health Exchanges

I found the experience frustrating. I ranked my preferences - ad/brochure images, a tagline and a website. Although the tagline was gobbledygook, other than rank it, I couldn't provide feedback. I couldn't interact and experience the website to honestly provide perspective on how well it communicated helpfulness. Although asked to participate, I don't think the company truly wanted to hear suggestions or concerns about the heart of the messages to be communicated.

After all, when you invite feedback and perspectives, you need to listen and then respond. That's one of the challenges with social media tools and digital marketing. The process forces transparency... even when the feedback isn't what you expect or want.

Healthcare Evolving Toward More Customer Transparency?

As Putting an I in Healthcare from Strategy+Business suggests, these pressures are building more intensely because "The days of the disengaged health consumer are numbered. Consumerization will transform healthcare systems, involving individuals as never before in the management of their own care."

Healthcare can be overwhelming especially when the purchase process is so complex. The article states "The Consumers Union studied the ability of consumers to select a health insurance plan, reporting in January 2012, “Almost all participants were stymied in their desire to identify the best value plan among those offered. While their concept of value was sophisticated, participants had little ability to assess the overall coverage offered by a plan.” The Affordable Care Act is a first step in demystifying the process for consumers, but they will need sustained guidance and support."

Customers will also need transparency.

You'll notice observations about insight-driven offerings such as "life stage–based products that are tailored to match consumers’ evolving health and financial needs as they enter the workforce, start families, or prepare to retire."

You'll also find intriguing examples from Whole Foods and Walmart as well as talk about "compelling end-to-end customer experiences."

The article ends by detailing the stages of new framework for patient engagement, which - to me - isn't possible without transparency:

  • Inform me
  • Engage me
  • Empower me
  • Partner with me
  • Support my e-community

Customers Want Transparency Not Just in Healthcare!

Healthcare is an expensive purchase and one that is particularly murky. However, there are plenty of other murky ones that customers try to wade through. Is your business one of them?

Customers want transparency. They want to understand what they are buying, what the cost is and what the implications of the purchase are. Given how dependent we are on customers, shouldn't we offer them what they want?

How do you help your customers better understand options? How do you provide them with transparency? What benefits have you observed?

Image credit: Shopping cart of Flickr.

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Does Your Content Marketing Have a Point-of-View? Patagonia's Does.


Patagonia content consumer experienceWant to experience remarkable content marketing? Check out a company with a strong point-of-view, willing to express it using digital media: Patagonia. The end result makes for an engaging and  memorable customer experience!

As Digiday's Inside Patagonia's Content Machine explains, "Patagonia has long gone its own way in marketing its products. Before “brands as publishers” was a catchphrase, Patagonia dedicated 50 percent of the pages in its print catalogs to product-free, long-form essays."

The article explores many of the digital tools Patagonia uses - not to sell. Rather to express perspectives.

Visit Patagonia's various Tumblr pages. For example, Patagonia Surfing on Tumblr. Real people. Real stories. No hard sell. Perspectives, yes. 

On the sidebar, you'll notice links to Patagonia ambassors featured on the Patagonia website, sharing their passion for the outdoors. For example, Kimi Werner. Check out her Instagram pictures!

What struck me when I visited the Patagonia website were the 6 rotating images on the home page which represent real people doing extreme outdoor activities and really using Patagonia gear. These aren't models or iStock images pretending. (Simply click on the small camera icon on the bottom right of the photo to get details.)

As the Digiday article explains, 

"Our content stays away from the hard sell,” said Bill Boland, Patagonia’s digital creative director. “But we are finding that our customers are interested in talking about our products. Even with the climbers out at Patagonia, customers want to know what gear they are wearing, what works for them and what does not, so that is something we are looking into for the future.”

Many brands feel like they are faced with a dilemma: They can either make great content or try to sell products. Boland doesn’t see it that way. He sees great content and conversations around products as something that naturally occurs, without the need for marketers to be so heavy-handed.

Patagonia is unique, too, in its willingness to take a stand. Jonah Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed, has said that many brands struggle in content because they lack a point of view. That’s clearly not the case with Patagonia. In fact, it’s willing to take political stances, something the overwhelming majority of brands would run from as fast as their feet could take them."

No surprise when you learn more about the company itself (see Patagonia's Founder Is America's Most Unlikely Business Guru). Patagonia's point-of-view starts at the very top of the organization and flows through everyone at the company. No wonder it embraces content marketing which relates directly to the Patagonia customer and fan base, with a distinct perspective on how to express information truly relevant to each.

“Going forward, we’ll be focusing on becoming more efficient in communicating with people in real time,” Boland said. “It gives you a better sense of what customers want and the types of conversation they are willing to have.”

What is your company's point-of-view? How does it relate to your customers? How do you express it in your content marketing?

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Reinventing, Re-Imagining the Customer Experience


Reinventing customer experienceThe online customer experience has become more efficient for customers than traditional retail experiences. Have you noticed? Isn't it time for reinventing and reimagining it?

Think of the difference between searching for a product, service or solution from a search window versus physically tracking it down... and not finding it.

Or searching through FAQs and interacting with live chat compared to actually locating a knowledgeable, friendly and competent retail associate to connect with.

Then, there's trust. Although the online world is at a disadvantage [i.e., we trust people over faceless organizations] compared to physical stores, reputable online businesses go out of their way to demonstrate trustworthiness with prospective customers and show the people behind the company using reviews, social content, 3rd party endorsements, generous return policies... 

It's almost as if the benefits of physical retail have been taken for granted because we are so familiar with it; it's what we've been doing for eons. Why reinvent? Why re-imagine?

In the online world, if you don't provide helpful, relevant, valuable content, you don't get found in search; if products are hard to find, customers will go elsewhere; and if visitors determine you can't be trusted, you'll quickly get dissed.

In the physical world, we've gotten away with being uninspiring and unhelpful. We've not been as diligent about understanding customers. We've not been relentless in sorting and organizing products in ways that help customers find physical products.

The contrast is getting harder to bridge, particularly for customers armed with digital devices, who start the purchase process online. Furthermore, the more we [and our customers] experience effective online models, the more we are conditioned to expect more from all retail experiences.

(See Consumers Want Mobile Enhanced RetailMobile shoppers are expecting more from retailers according to a new study by Latitude, Next-Gen Retail: Mobile & Beyond. Smartphones and tablets aren’t just making shopping more convenient and real-time; they’re fundamentally changing how people think about shopping. Mobile shopping makes people feel more relaxed, productive and informed, as well as more open-minded and receptive to discovering new things, says the report.)

If Zappos can make returns painless, and Amazon can learn from my purchase decisions, and Google can help me find things - then why should I put up with unpleasant, disorganized, clunky physical experiences, with irrelevant choices and incompentent help?

And, yet, there's so much that's marvelous about physical retail experiences! The sense of discovery, of unexpected pleasure, of holding out for the perfect solution, of fully engaged senses... 

This NRF article titled Reinventing and Reimagining had me thinking about possibilities for rethinking the retail customer experience and bringing together the best of both worlds.

"... The problem is that the digital arena has gotten better at delivering on the things shoppers have always valued in a retail relationship,” says Kurt Salmon retail strategist Al Sambar. “Someone who knows you, [someone who] can help you find what you’re looking for and remembers what you bought the last time you visited.”

That complements research recently released by global design consultancy FITCH. The “Joy of Shopping” found that U.S. consumers want to be inspired, learn something new and have fun while they shop — but above all, they want it to be easier to find products. Stephen Jay, managing director for North America, insists retailers should create value for shoppers without being disruptive.

“It’s about understanding the journey,” he says. “What is the shopper looking for and how can I help her find what she needs? Once the retailer satisfies the need, it sets up the possibility that she will be inspired to look for something. The challenge is then to engage her in new and inventive ways.”

Retail companies must find ways to merge the virtual and physical shopping environments. “With so many decisions formed from online sources, it’s critical to bring that same digital content ... into the store environment,” he says. “The future of the store is a living, breathing website.”

(The article highlights three retailers succeeding, with vastly different models: Target, moving downtown; Build-A-Bear and Burberry.)

With so many fast-changing influences on shoppers and customers, how do you plan on keeping up? What will you do to your physical experience? How will you integrate that with your online experience?

I'd love to hear.


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Recharge, Renew. Overcoming Customer Experience Overload in Las Vegas


Vegas Baby!

There's nothing quite like a trip to Las Vegas to make me appreciate sensory overload and the customer experience. That, in turn, has me wondering how best to recharge and renew given the onslaught of sensory stimulation...

I'm just back from Las Vegas after an intense Social Media, Digital Marketing, Floor Covering Marketing: Surfaces experience. During that time, I learned from taxi drivers that the new brilliant way to promote Las Vegas is loud videos inside every taxi that only patrons can turn down, and which reset every time a fare is dropped off.

As usual, everywhere I went had music blaring, lights flashing and very hard surfaces to walk on. Not just taxis. Elevators. Hallways... Magnificent carpet patterns added to the visual excitement (see Pounding Las Vegas PavementsThe Carpets of Vegas: Floorscapes at the Casino and Vegas Carpet: Surreal, Intense and Addictive?).

Even scent has been taken to a new level, with each Las Vegas property owning its own scent based experience. The minute you walk through that facility's doors, the scent descends upon you, enveloping you...

I'm proud of the mileage I covered: ~ 4 to 5 miles per day per FitBit. I'm also ecstatic to be away from the excess.

The intensity of the sensory experience was such that I felt my brain shut down quickly. It couldn't deal with the paradox of sensory choices and preferred to back off. (See Avoiding 'Paradox of Choice' When Connecting With Customers.)

Although many love Las Vegas for the intensity of the customer experience, I suspect that others feel the same way I do.

This level of sensory overload isn't limited to Vegas. It's something we face in just about everything we do: too much email, too many messages, endless demands to complete surveys and respond to queries. It's too much! 

Isn't it interesting that Selfridges has created a No Noise Shopping Experience (also see Shhh! Selfridges' 'Silence Room' Quiets Brand Noise)?

I remember reading about a product that nullifies mobile devices for meetings. No noise. No interruptions. Productive and shorter meeting. Nifty, no?

We yearn for filters, editors and curators. People to lend their expertise and help us interpret data and make sense of the overload of information. Ways to keep the chaos at bay and bring back a sense of quiet so we can recharge and renew and be ready to deal with more.

Agree? Disagree? How do you recharge? How do you help customers to the same?

Image credit: Vegas Baby! on Flickr 
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What's Ahead for the Customer Experience in 2013?


BuyerZone Best Blogs 2012What do you think is ahead for the customer experience? Think back on 2012 and what resonated. Now look ahead with the benefit of a few weeks of 2013...

Back in November, BuyerZone's Sylvia Rosen asked for 2013 predictions as well as the best blog post of 2012 for The End of the Year EditionThe 12 Best Blogs of 2012 (with Flooring The Consumer in position #7!).

My prediction was:

In 2012, businesses saw more overlap between online and in-store experiences. Customers started taking multiple paths - including mobile - to find us, and we must be consistent across channels going forward.

My best blog post of 2012 was The Online Retail Experience: eCommerce Best Practices.

I've been doing more thinking since and share those thoughts with you here... 

What's Ahead for Customer Experience?

Being consistent across channels (online as well as offline) is a big deal. The only way for a business to get it is by focusing completely on the customer experience and ensuring that all interactions are seamless. Customers use a variety of digital devices throughout the purchase process, sometimes in tandem. Don't make them question whether they are dealing with the same company! 

The content shared on websites, blogs, social networks and in real life has to be meaningful to customers! It has to sound like it comes from real people who care. That requires an intense focus on customers and a strong commitment to education.

Content not focused on customers and which neither educates nor entertains becomes clutter or noise. It's junk to be avoided at any cost.

Just because something is cost-effective (e.g, cheap to do vs. traditional options) doesn't mean you should do it more frequently unless you truly provide value. Take email marketing. Once you've purchased something, how do you react to receiving similar sales emails on a daily basis? 

Providing a customizable customer experience is becoming critical. Let your customer decide whether she wants to receive that daily sales message or prefers a monthly digest. There's value to receiving reminders when the timing is right.

Remembering your customer, her purchases and preferences - and communicating accordingly is becoming a basic business requirement when most people have experienced Amazon.

When you don't remember your customer's actions, you lose credibility. When you don't answer their questions, you appear shady. When you deliberately make it difficult for them to make informed decisions, they will think you are lying. Customers won't buy from businesses that aren't credible and which can't be trusted.

Managing email inbox clutter is becoming a source of stress for the recipient. For the sender, a cluttered inbox means being ignored, lost or -worse yet - flagged as spam. (Interesting how empty physical mailboxes have become and how much more attention real mail gets...) Ensure that your email provides value to the recipient! For example, receiving an email inviting me to review my online credit card statement on a bank site isn't as helpful as the email reminder from Mint that my payment for a specific amount is due in a few days (with great visuals) and viewing the detail from the Mint app on my iPad.

The challenge ahead for the customer experience in 2013 is how to be thoughtful, relevant and true to our customers. In some cases it means ignoring competitors. In other cases it means trying something new. 

What would you add? What do you think is ahead for the customer experience?

Looking Back on 2012 via BuyerZone's Best Marketing Blogs

Here are BuyerZone's Best Blogs of 2012. I've reordered them so those in similar categories appear together:

Best Business Marketing Blog

Best Small Business Blog

Best B2B Blogs

 Thank you, Sylvia and BuyerZone for including Flooring The Consumer!


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Social Media in Action: FLOFORM Countertops Connects With Customers


Floform chris morrissetteIn anticipation of Surfaces 2013 and the panel discussion I am moderating titled "Social Media in Action: Retailers Share Best Practices", I got to talk to Chris Morrissette, marketing coordinator for FLOFORM Countertops.

I first 'met' Chris after publishing the FloForm Countertops Blog: Social Flooring Index Review. What a treat to get to speak to him and learn more about FLOFORM Countertops' social media marketing and the person behind it all.

As I mentioned to Chris, I'm particularly taken with what FLOFORM has done on Facebook. I hope you'll check out FLOFORM on Facebook; be sure to explore two interesting features: Spotlight and Featured Designer.

These two features highlight Architects and Designers FLOFORM works with. No surprise, these featured designer segments on Facebook have been very effective for connecting with customers and specifiers and building relationships with them. 

Chris shared valuable perspective on how FLOFORM uses social media during our November 2012 Skype conversation. Although -sadly- he isn't participating in the panel discussion, I will present his insights to the audience.

Here follow highlights.

About FLOFORM's customers and their buying cycle, Chris observed:

  • On average, it takes 3 years to make a decision about the kind of countertops FLOFORM sells. During that timeframe, it's important to be top of mind. Social media allows you to do that in a fun, friendly way.
  • The majority of FLOFORM's customers are women. It's important to be aware of that. Don't just focus on manufacturing information. Pay attention to the kind of content that women enjoy and appreciate. It really helps to have women involved in creating content.
  • It takes time to get sales from social media. Social media is more about building relationships. A unique aspect of social media vs traditional ads is that people can share or give feedback via social media; that's the viral aspect. Social drives traffic to the website.

Chris explained how important it is to think about customers and their experience with FLOFORM. FLOFORM does a lot in the community; it's a fun company. That comes out in social content and it's real.

Chris made these points about interactions on social media:

  • Customers have to care about what you publish on blogs and on social networks. (My interpretation: don't just publish anything! Make sure your content is relevant and provides context that readers will respond to.)
  • It's really important to come up with content that your fan base values. You cannot talk about yourself all the time. 
  • Remember that people do social media on their own time. Last thing they want to do on their time is to be sold to. (It's very easy to hide posts in Facebook.)
  • You have to be different to be noticed. Boring gets you no where.
  • Be sure to comment as a person.
  • Provide real updates.
  • Don't get too hung up on fan acquisition. Focus on content and engagement first.
  • Don't just follow anyone. Make sure there's relevance.
  • Hew prefers not to autopost to Facebook and Twitter. The audiences are too different.

About social networks:

  • Different social networks fill different roles.
  • Twitter is more industry based rather than consumer. 
  • Pinterest is fantastic! It offers inspiration to renovate interior spaces. 
  • On Facebook, be sure to like other businesses and brands related to you.

Chris, thanks so much for sharing your social media experiences and insights! I wish you and FLOFORM continued success and look forward to including you in a future panel discussion about social media in action.

What successes have you had with social media for connecting with customers? Which social networks do you prefer and why?


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Bathrooms Affect Retail Experience Say Studies


Bathrooms Affect Retail ExperienceKudos to my friend Bethany Richmond for uncovering an independent study which states that dirty restrooms lead to lost business.

It's even more powerful when another study - Restroom Cleanliness Impacts Facility Perception - states that "86 percent of U.S. adults equate the cleanliness of a restaurant's restroom with the cleanliness of its kitchen. The survey also revealed that 75 percent of U.S. adults would not return to a restaurant with dirty restrooms. Regardless of industry, clean restrooms directly impact a business‚ ability to attract and retain customers."

That's music to my ears. Especially when a Bathroom Blogfest has taken place. Regardless whether the stats have to do with a restaurant or a retail environment - bathrooms affect the retail experience.

My poster child in all this is Tile Outlets of America's Fort Myer store. [See New Bathrooms for Tile Outlets of America Fort Myers: Bathroom Blogfest.] They definitely get it. They get that they don't want to lose 45% of their traffic who might be offended by boring, dirty-looking, uninspiring bathrooms. They appreciate that their bathrooms are part of their store's retail experience. They are counting on their "restrooms having become an extension of the Inspiration Center and another way to help customers visualize what they can do in their homes."

That's a big deal!

As Michele Hoover from TOA stated, "Even though the old restrooms were cleaned three times a week by an outside service they never felt clean because of the worn condition. I think generally customers relate the cleanliness and overall condition of the restroom to the rest of their visit and the type of service they expect to receive. Now customers can enjoy bright, clean, and stylish restrooms."

Another retailer friend explained to me that bathrooms in a retail environment are the one space closest to a customers' home [see A Store That Floors: Aggieland Carpet One Floor & Home]. By focusing attention of bathrooms, you communicate to customers that you know what's important to them and that you can help them.

What's your experience as a customer?

What's your customer's experience of your retail space?

Let me know.

Especially if you disagree!


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11 Top Customer Experience Articles From Flooring The Consumer: 2012


Flooring the consumerHere follow the 11 most read customer experience articles from Flooring The Consumer in 2012.

As you know, I'm partial to customer experience stories. They generate insights about connecting with customers offline and online. They also make me pay attention to my own experiences. I hope they inspire you in 2013.  

The Online Retail Experience: Ecommerce Best Practices

Best Business Marketing Blogs of 2012 Include Flooring The Consumer!

Social Media Examples: Car Dealers

MegaBus Customer Service Experience: Communication Matters

JetBlue Reinvents Airline Customer Experience

Two Small Business Marketing Ideas From Uniqlo

Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction: 3 Lessons From Ace Hardware

Zappos' Online Retail Experience: Powered By Customers

Get More Customers? Offer Opt-in Email, Text Messages

Happiness and Customer Experience: Interview with Bernd Schmitt

DSW: a Retail Experience for Shoe Lovers

Thanks for reading!

Happy 2013!


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