Posted by Becky Carroll on August 9, 2008
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.
For more great insight into the retail customer experience, see the these smart blogs: Doug Fleener’s Retail Contrarian, CB Whittemore’s Flooring the Consumer, Stephanie Weaver’s Experienceology.
(Photo credit top: rmarmion; photo credit bottom: bcarroll)
Posted in Customer experience, Customer strategy, Customers Rock!, Marketing | Tagged: Customer experience, Experienceology, Flooring the Consumer, Ikea, kids, retail, Retail Contrarian | 11 Comments »
Posted by Becky Carroll on April 30, 2008
There are so many ways we can focus on our customer. I wanted to share a very cool post from one of my favorite bloggers, Doug Meacham of NextUp. Doug is one of the first bloggers I started a conversation with back when I began this blog at the end of 2006 (he has also been one of those trying to get me to start Twittering – I am getting closer, Doug!).
Doug’s post is a great list from another Doug, Doug Fleener at Retail Contrarian, sharing 50 ways to improve the customer experience (note – there are actually 51 – added value). This is near and dear to my heart! Most of these apply directly to retail and consumer-based businesses, but they should also be considered for other customer-friendly folks. Here are a few of the items that I especially liked:
“8. Send handwritten thank-you notes. Come on, do you really do it?”
Come on, really. Do it!
“15. If you can’t fulfill a customer’s need, suggest another company that may be able to do so.”
Zappos.com does this if they can’t find the shoes you are looking for. Awesome customer service.
“46. Partner with restaurants and other stores to present exclusive discounts and offers to your customers. (A win-win-win. The other company gets incremental revenue, your customer saves money, and you’re the nice person doing it for both of them.)”
I like this one because, through partnering, your company is able to offer added value (there’s that phrase again!) to customers. This can be a key factor in increasing customer loyalty. I heard a recent example of this in some interviews I was conducting for a retail client. The retailer’s store is on a street in a shopping district with several other retailers. In order to give a reward to loyal customers, the street is holding a drawing for Mother’s Day. The lucky winner will get one prize from each store or restaurant on the block, including free meals, spa treatments, and clothes. How fun is that?
Of course, as I mentioned to the Doug(s) in my comments, the best way to take care of your customers is to do the above within the framework of a proactive strategy. Planning for a great customer experience will make all the difference between “random acts of customer service” and a consistent experience.
What works for you? Please share some of your best customer experience ideas with us either by email or in the comments on any of the above blogs. I will be sure to link to you here at Customers Rock!
(Photo credit: jchambers) (Note – WordPress.com’s photo uploader isn’t working; this photo is coming soon!) Finally working!
Posted in Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Customer service, Customer strategy, Marketing | Tagged: Customer experience, Customer service, Doug Fleener, Doug Meacham, retail | 3 Comments »