Archive for March, 2012

Customer Viewpoint

I am constantly surprised by the number of people and companies who make no effort to try and think about things from their customer’s point of view. They seem to have a myopic view. The view is “this is the way that I think about something and so it’s the way that you should too”.

This happens in the physical world (brick and mortar stores), face to face meetings, and emails but the place that I see it the most is on the web. It becomes apparent in some very visible places and also in some very subtle ways.

Quite frequently I will have a conversation with a sales person and ask “What is it that they (the customer) is trying to accomplish?” and the salesperson will have no clue. Or you are trying to have a conversation with someone about how a website is designed and they will have looked at it but that’s all. They haven’t purchased anything and so don’t understand the full experience.

The subtle nature of this came to me very early this morning. You see, over the last 2 months I have made 3 different reservations on Marriott.com that were non cancelable. I didn’t intend to do this because my travel plans change more often than not. After this last one I was racking my brain to figure out what I did. This morning it hit me… I think in Days (Monday, Tuesday…) not Dates (17th, 18th…). I say I need to be in Seattle next Tuesday. Boom easy. I use the pop up calendar, select the day and away I go. But then when you select the rate and get your confirmation it gives you the date. I know it’s next Tuesday that I want to be in Seattle but I have no idea what the date is, (heck, as I type this I don’t even know today’s date – 23rd? 24th? 25th? am I close?) so when it comes back with a date that is 24 or 48 hours earlier I don’t recognize that. Is it my fault? Absolutely. But when I get frustrated at paying the cancellation fees, who do you think I take it out on? That’s right, Marriott. So, it’s in their best interest to see things from my point of view.

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Spring Break

Two weeks ago I was heading off on Spring Break with my family and had the pleasure of sitting next to a very nice gentleman in his 60’s. We got to talking and because I was with my high school age daughter we go to talking about his experience in High School.

He went to an exclusive private high school and recalled the trip from his family farm to the school and being dropped off in the family’s battered old pick up truck. And as he said “this was before pick up trucks were cool.” He was a scholarship student so was always a little different from the rich kids in the school.

In spite of this start or maybe because of it, this gentleman has been very successful. He has worked very hard and has managed to build a very successful company. So successful in fact that we weren’t sitting on Southwest or Jet Blue but we were sitting on his personal G4.

The next time someone tells you that there are no opportunities in this country, think of this story and the hundreds and thousands like it. Is this a great country or what?

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"Honey, I’m Home"

One big advantage that the Web has over Brick and Mortar retail is that typically when someone is in their web store, a retailer knows who it is, what they have purchased before, what they have looked at, and lots of other data about that customer. This allows the web guys to acknowledge their best customers, help them if necessary, and provide offers and recommendations. They can even customize the store, based on their customers’ preferences.

A challenge for retailers in 2012 is: How can we get customers to identify themselves when they come into our stores so we can do some of those same things?

Over a five day period, RetailWire, the retail news service has had stories about two retailers doing just that.

http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/15855/app-lets-neiman-marcus-know-when-best-customers-arrive

http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/15868/foursquare-members-check-in-for-savings-at-walgreens

Two very different retailers and two very different programs.

How are you getting your customers to let you know they are home?

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