Perhaps you are aware that I've been monitoring the 'social state of flooring' via the Social Flooring Index officially since 2009.
What I also started doing as of November 2011 was to pick blogs which I have included in the Social Flooring Index and review them on regular basis.
Why? Because I'm curious to see how floor covering organizations are making use of blogs - especially since they are so powerful for getting found online - to express humanity and passion for products and industry to readers.
Since we can no longer just rely on the physical retail experience to connect with customers, we must bring in the digital and social worlds. These flooring blogs represent organizations that have taken the digital and social plunge. It's really exciting!
Since getting started with these Social Flooring Index Blog reviews I've examined 11 blogs and shared highlights of each in individual blog articles as follows:
I invite you to check out these articles so you can learn about [and from] these blogs.
If you're considering getting started with a blog, you may find these two articles helpful:
Will you let me know your reactions?
Happy Friday! Before I get to this week's Retail Experience in the News, I want to share a few thoughts...
I'm noticing more experimentation taking place at retail and I consider it exciting. Retail has expanded beyond brick and mortar to embrace digital.
Furthermore, social + digital is transforming many business websites into spaces that have more in common with retail. The customer experience matters online regardless of the type of business.
While you're pondering, here are the Retail Experience in the News links for 3/23/12.
Retail Experience Ideas
Pandora: Luxury Marketer Makes Jewelry Social
Has Hashtag Marketing Arrived? American Express uses Twitter to deliver discounts to card holders
Retail in Hospitals: is Lake Health a game-changer?
Retail Experience and the Consumer
Integrating offline/Online Retail Experience
When you create email communications about your product and service offerings, how carefully do you think about the customer experience? Do you anticipate each digital step or do you create a nightmare and abuse customers?
Based on a recent poor experience, I recommend that you take to heart 3 customer experience tips to ensure you don't abuse your customers.
My customer experience abuse example
Last week, I received an email from AT&T with an intriguing title: "Bring Wi-Fi With You Wherever You Go". Given that I'm often on the go, with Wi-Fi only enabled devices, the subject line spoke to me as business professional. I opened the message and clicked on the call to action button "Get your Mobile Hotspot today!"
Only to be disappointed.
I expected to be taken directly from my email inbox to an AT&T landing page focused exclusively on the AT&T Wi-Fi Mobile Hotspot.
The reason for this expectation? The email subject line mentioned Wi-Fi. The image in the email displayed the AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G with a Wi-Fi logo. The call to action specifically referred to getting the Mobile Hotspot. All of the critical email clues pointed to the Mobile Hotspot.
[A landing page, by the way, is a powerful lead generation and digital customer experience tool. It is a website page where your site's regular navigation has been removed so as to focus entirely on, rather than distract from, the offer proposed - in this case, the Mobile Hotspot device. A landing page provides the visitor with essential information about and compelling reasons for engaging further with that product or service. As an example, here is the landing page for my 10 Tips for Getting Started with Social Media offer.]
Instead, the call to action button took me to an AT&T website page with a jumble of products and services to choose from [and with 'netbooks' in the URL].
Not a single image or header jumped out or matched the clues from the email. As you might imagine, I became frustrated, shut the web page down, fired off a response email which generated an auto-reply saying that the mailbox isn't attended and to check out AT&T's most frequently asked questions - none of which were relevant to the original email message.
At this point, frustration became intellectual curiosity and disbelief that an organization as sophisticated as AT&T could so misalign digital customer clues. [BTW, I am a long-time AT&T customer and have no complaints about their service.]
I returned two more times to the website to figure out this puzzle and finally discovered a tab titled "mobile hotspots" which I have highlighted in yellow. Eureka!
Once there, I found information supporting the $69.99 cost mentioned in the email. I also found links to plenty of legalese and gobbledygook about terms and agreements and penalties.
However, I was unable to find information about monthly Wi-Fi rates and subscription plans for this Mobile Hotspot gizmo [at one point I was asked to log into my account, which I wasn't interested in doing]. This was curious when the device, as with a phone, requires a plan to operate. So why not address that natural question?
Imagine how abused a customer would feel...
Here, then, are my customer experience tips.
3 Customer Experience Tips to Avoid Abusing Customers
1. Don't make your customers work to find your products and services, especially when you have invited them to check you out! The harder you make it [i.e., the more friction you create], the faster you will lose them. The more time you cause them to waste, the more they will feel abused. Wasting a customer's time is the epitome of rudeness and disrespect.
2. Keep it simple for your customer. What are the specific steps or actions you would like each to take. Anticipate what happens when each step or action is taken... Is the next step to take obvious?
3. Think of your customer as a specific person. You are more likely to be thoughtful and considerate in how you communicate if you think of your customer as a person. Imagine him or her across the table from you as you explain WIIFM and anticipate questions and concerns.
What would you add to these three tips?
If you consider the negative experiences you've been exposed to and compare them to the truly delightful, what stands out? What do you learn by articulating those dashed expectations? How might you apply that to your own business so you can focus on getting more customers?
My inspiration comes from Sandy Smith, Sandy Smith Seminars [who will be presenting two sessions during Coverings 2012]. In a recent presentation, he compared a dreadful doctor's visit to time spent at Starbucks. He asked, why the former couldn't be more like the latter. Good question, don't you think?
[Here is my account of an abysmal visit to LabCorp.]
Assuming you feel strongly about only delivering a Starbucks-like experience - because that's what resonates with your customers - let's explore seven not-articulated customer expectations that Sandy brought up.
The point: if you meet these expectations you will not only delight customers, but also be well on your way to getting even more customers.
- How can you make customers smarter? [content marketing is particularly effective here]
- How can you respond quickly, effectively and with meaning?
- How can you ensure that you respect customers' most precious resource, their time?
- How do you followup in a way that communicates respect, trustworthiness and competence?
- How can you continuously improve?
- How might you align yourself with a bigger purpose?
- How do you 'customize' your customers' experiences so each one feels uniquely valued?
Interesting how most of these expectations have to do with being human and expressing how much you care about your customers.
Comments, reactions? What are you currently doing to meet customers expectations? What might you do differently?
I'd love to hear.
Image credit: Dan Smith, Valley Business FRONT with reference found in Sandy Smith - Who's in Front?
I love discussions about trends, particularly ones that affect the customer experience. I wasn't disappointed when Cheryl Durst
, executive vice president and CEO of IIDA [International Interior Design Association]
addressed Crossville Inc
.'s community of architecture and design representatives.
Cheryl is a member of the World Future Society which explores how social and technological forces shape the future. To that, she adds her unique perspective on design.
In her comments, Cheryl focused on two tectonic trends affecting our marketplace and designers: demographics and technology.
Shifting World Demographics
Shifting demographics have profound implications for Western Europe, North America and Japan where the majority of the population is older than 50. At the same time, in major developing countries [i.e., China and India], the majority is under 30.
Technology & the Workplace
The ubiquity of technology and mobile access to social media tools are changing how work is defined. Work is transitioning to a virtual/mobile model. "Work is where I am." Work has become the social network. Technology has also globalized the world.
Marketplace Observations: Optimism + Real
Cheryl explained that "periods of optimism" follow economic and climate chaos. Past 10 years have definitely been a period of chaos!
Optimism brings with it a focus on authenticity and interest in what's real, that you can relate to, even touch. Rough, natural, tactile fabrics and products are trending up as is an interest in the true and sincere. These are reflected in the design world.
Don't forget color palettes which reflect moods. In the case of optimism, notice saffron gold. For example, Slumdog Millionaire includes saffron gold in approximately every 60 frames. It's a movie about hope.
Customer Experience Implications
From a design perspective, spaces must support: proximity, socialization, intimacy, connectivity. Design need to be about the person. Design has a humanitarian quality: it surrounds, supports, enables, collaborates [think elastic or flexible, multi-purpose spaces]. It is less about glamour and opulence and more about simplicity. We will crave more privacy and sanctuary.
Retail plays an important role as an immersive experience where all of the senses can be engaged [think of enhancing brands with scent and sound]
Cheryl Durst Design Wisdom
Given these observations about marketplace trends, how might you apply them to your customer experience? How do you accommodate an ageing population? What about the virtual/mobile work model? Have you changed how you light your retail space? Are your displays tactile? How do you convey authenticity? Have you simplified your retail environment?
Image courtesy of InteriorDesign.net "Give me an I... Give me another I"
Time for this week's Retail Experience in the News for 3/2/12.
I'm just back from a thought-provoking few days with Crossville Tile
's architecture and design community. We heard talk about the future from IIDA's Cheryl Durst
and the customer experience from Sandy Smith
[who will be at Coverings 2012]. I'll share more about both presentations...
Meanwhile, here are links to:
Retail Experience Ideas
Retail Experience and the Consumer
Integrating Offline/Online Customer Experience
Google: Mobile Devices Influence Purchases
Online shoppers to tap smartphones, tablets for Valentine's Day shopping
comScore releases the 2012 Mobile Future in Focus Report
Social Media Impact on e-Commerce called overrated
Ace hardware captures brand awareness via CAPTCHA Ads
For previous issues of Retail Experience in the News, click on this link [and also this one].