In the current economy, consumers are holding on to their money more tightly and making hard choices about if, and where, to spend it. Having a great customer experience greatly increases the chances that a) customers will come back to shop there again and b) they will tell their friends and family about how great it was! Word of mouth is very powerful marketing; studies show that consumers trust friend recommendations more than information from vendors.
Ikea is one of those stores with a great shopping experience that evokes word of mouth. In addition to the fun one can have by sitting on all those couches or envisioning how that bedroom would look in your own house, Ikea does things to make a difference even to the smallest customers.
Ikea has a play area for the littlest ones, where they can romp while their parents are enjoying the shopping. However, Ikea actually encourages families to bring their children with them through the showroom experience, starting right from the entrance. At our local Ikea store, a staircase leads shoppers up to the showroom floor. I was very impressed when I noticed they had put in a hand rail at kid-level, just right for those youngsters to hold onto while navigating the steps (see photo). The sign on the hand rail says the following:
“We care about the little ones, too. Look for the hand rails mounted lower, specially for your children.”
This does two things for the customer. One, the rail itself helps the kiddos feel like grown-ups (look, Mom, I can reach the hand rail!). Two, it specifically tells customers that Ikea has thought about their experience in advance and has done something to make it better.
Whether your customers are consumers or businesses, having a solid understanding of them makes all the difference in the sales and marketing process. How do your customers shop your business? What would make it easier to buy from you? Craft your own customer buying experience around the answers to those questions, and you will find an increase in not only sales, but also in new customers as the word spreads that you are a fabulous place to meet their needs.
(Photo credit top: rmarmion; photo credit bottom: bcarroll)