Consider what your customers will look, smell, touch and feel - from the start to end of your experience
Let's try this thought exercise for a few minutes.
Imagine that you're a customer of your own company's business. This could be anything of course, depending on what your company do. During this time, you should don the hat of your prospective customer, be he or she a swinging single, working parent, active ager, awkward teen, or urban professional.
First, what would make you attracted to "that company's" products and services? How do you find information on those goods or services? What would the chance be like for you to encounter information on that product or service in your reading/watching/listening habits?
OK, the advertisement/editorial write up/website managed to stir your interest. Now what is the next step? Should you call, fax, email, or travel to the premises offering that product? How about calling a friend or family member to get their opinion? Perhaps you want to "google" the company to see what others think.
After some hesitation - or perhaps none at all - you proceed to the place of transaction. Now imagine what factors you'll consider as a consumer: When should I go down to purchase that product? How much time should or can I spend doing so? How much is my budget for this? Would I do this on its own (eg a day at the zoo), or would I bundle other associated activities together (eg shopping for groceries)?
Now, you're at the shop/attraction/restaurant. What is the first thing that you would consider? Do you expect to be greeted enthusiastically or do I prefer to be left alone? How would you navigate your way around - visual icons, signages, staff directing me or other cues? Would you mind waiting for 5, 10, 30, 60 minutes?
As you walk through the aisles/tables/exhibits, think about the sensory encounters that you would experience. What are the sounds that you hope to hear? Are there any scents that envelop your nostrils (hopefully pleasant)? How about the textures on the wall, or the shapes/colours/patterns that you see? Do these augment or agitate your experience?
Finally, you arrive at where the product is placed/service is provided. What would you first do? Will you look at the price tags or price lists? Maybe you'll scrutinise the box, check out its ingredients, or study the packaging. Or perhaps the shape and ergonomics of the product, enthusiasm of the service staff, and ease of use (ala Apple products)?
After you have decided to buy the product or consume the service, what would you next do? Walk to the cashier and make your payment perhaps? How is the payment experience like - fast and fuss-free (or slow and painful)? Do you expect to receive anything after the purchase - like a card, an email, or even an SMS to "thank you for shopping with us" with an offer attached?
As you make your way home on the bus/train/car/plane, consider what your thoughts would be. Would you rush to tell all your family and friends about it via SMS, Facebook, Twitter or face-to-face? Maybe you prefer to just keep quiet.
And so on and so forth...
Now if you write down what you expect to experience every step of the way, and be as meticulous as you can, you would have the makings of a customer experience pathway. Design it in the most ideal manner possible - subject to costs and available resources - and you probably have the start of an ideal marketing plan.
The trick is to take the vantage point of your customer, rather than your company. Its not what you want to market or sell to them. Its what they would respond to and be attracted by.
Only by doing so would your firm truly be able to call itself a customer centric business.
[Article first published as Imagine Wearing Your Customer's Shoes on Technorati.]
Labels: audience research, consumer behaviour, consumer psychology, imagination, visualisation exercise