Customer Experience First with Active Participation

May 23, 2016

We enjoyed quite a day at the Customer Experience Exchange Retail conference co-hosted by IPQC at Turnberry Isle and I wanted to share some initial insights that revolve around the idea of meaningful experiences and active participation, not just engagement.

The conference started on May 23rd with the COO of Build-a-Bear describing the company’s transformation, all while focusing on in-store experience that leverages a workshop format. He provided three noteworthy observations that carried throughout the day. Number one, customer experience is about creating and instilling memorable moments in guests’ hearts and minds, and therefore transcends traditional branding rules.  Next is that meaningful success occurs when the entire company operates with an ‘Experience First’ mindset.  Customer experience is not simply an activity that happens in the field.  Last but least, any technology introduced should be fully integrated within the experience. We had an excellent discussion about some of the capacity planning challenges associated with children’s activities.  I anticipate “Snow Days” are big for Build-a-Bear.  

Later in the morning I hosted a Think Tank discussion about how analytics are currently in use as a revenue driver across different retailers.  Some clothiers are trying to break into the American market, some have great store-by-store analytics and some have none. Surprisingly, a major luxury retailer had very little commitment to analytics. Those retailers that operate online and on TV have different needs than those that are blending online and brick-and-mortar experiences.

The day’s discussions about transformation continued with studies on employee engagement and how ineffective employee engagement can have a negative impact on customer experience, as well as recognizing that employee happiness and customer happiness are indeed connected. And we were reminded that emotion drives sales.

Two of my other favorite presentations were from Jack-in-the-Box, who talked about how to optimize customer feedback, and why that information had a direct impact on revenue.  And Tommy Bahama, who is in full rebranding mode and is a Net Promoter Score practitioner, has adopted customer suggestions like, “I wish there were beach sand here…” or “I’m so relaxed, where’s my margarita?” In fact Tommy Bahama is incorporating a food and beverage experiences, to create a vacation-like atmosphere to help increase average order sizes for clothing sales. Very impressive!

All discussions in Miami shared a common theme that Drew Neisser, author of the CMO’s Periodic Table, covered in a DataTalk recorded last week. “We’re in a give to get economy and marketers have to give something of value to get the customer’s attention, and data can be very helpful for that," said Neisser. He recommends to "start with your customer, focus on the customer – don’t think of data as a way of increasing sales but instead, think of data as a way of improving customer experience.”

I hope you recognize that all of these observations would not be made possible without analytics. During one-on-one discussions, the retailers and I brainstormed on how to package analytics for each store, region or franchise owner, and how that can help drive the bottom line.

Follow us on Twitter @GoodData and @JeffmMorris. Thanks for taking time to read and share this blog with colleagues.  

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