By accident I stumbled upon an article from Bruce Tempkin written in 2009 on the LEGO experience wheel. It reminded me that some tools we need for customer experience management are pretty down to earth but massively useful. The customer experience wheel is one of them.
The wheel is a lightweight version of an experience map that mentions the key experience points, only. In comparison to more complex journey maps, it is a circle and reminds you of the fact that an experience should not be a one-off, but a recurring activity that customers love to perform over an over again. Have a look at it!
Many brands have introduced signature elements into their customer journeys to differentiate themselves from the competition. Some of these elements are built around the core service proposition but many are located at the outskirts of the original product or service offering. I ran into such an outskirtish element while staying at the Double Tree in Amsterdam last week. Double Tree is a brand of the Hilton Group and targeted at younger (business) travellers that are looking for a cool style with all the usual 4* amenities.
When checking in sometime after 10 p.m. the lady at the counter handed my a chocolate cookie after all the paperwork had been done. I was amazed. Then I realized that the cookie was warm like coming straight from the bakery and when I ate it in my room, the chocolate chips on the inside were still melted. That blew me away. At first.
Where did the cookie come from? The reception desk has several heated drawers built into the desk that keep a stock of cookies at the right temperature. This signature element is intended to provide arriving guest (that mostly drop-in late in the afternoon) a sweet and welcoming treat and give their stomachs a rest after having been on the road or in meetings all day with no time to grab a decent dinner. The lady at the reception could immediately give me the story behind the cookie after I asked her.
A second look at this signature element
As the days in Amsterdam were filled with customer experience talk, I asked my colleagues how they had experienced the cookie. The observation was twofold. Everybody who was visiting the Double Tree for the first time was impressed and appreciated the cookie as something very unique and special. Everybody had eaten it immediately when they had settled in their rooms. For the returning guests to the Double Tree, the story was different. They reported a wear-our effect and started expecting the cookie as something that is part of the service package. Up to the point to intentionally skip dinner as the cookie will cover up for it. Some even got annoyed by it, especially when they were trying to stay away from sweets to keep their weight.
Can the Double Tree cookie stay crunchy?
In my opinion it can’t as the idea of giving a little treat to a customer needs to have variety in order to stay interesting. I was amazed as I did not expect the cookie. To keep the momentum on the concept, it would have to change every once in a while, cycling through a set of pre-defined elements. By this the guest can not guess what he will get this time, which keeps the element of surprise. And let’s face it, the thing that made me happy last week at the check-in was the surprise itself and not so much the cookie.
When every medium-sized website personalizes its content to each individual visitor, the real world can’t stay behind. This came clear to me when I strolled by the Levi’s Tailor Shop in Berlin last week. Next to buying almost every model currently available, you can also have your jeans fitted or altered or even let the guys there renovate the worn-out one from the back of you closed. Watch the video from the NYC store to get the idea.
Levi’s started out with its legendary 501 in the 1890s and for many decades, there was no need to enlarge the number of jeans models significantly. Checking out today’s shopping world, I find 199 Levi’s models for men with a quick search at Zappos.com. With the tailor shop concept, the possibilities have become endless.
While you can have your new car configured to almost every aspect you care for, the old concepts of mass customization always build upon an individual customer and a product and manufacturing system that offers a wide range of combinable options. Man facing a fixed system. The new setup puts another human into the game. Now the customer can interact with the tailor in the shop and share his ideas on how the new pair of jeans should be customized. If everything goes well, tailor and customer will eventually create something that was not even envisioned by the customer before.
In terms of the customer experience, Levi’s delivers two things at their store concept: Truely personalized goods that can’t be found somewhere else and a very close relationship between customer and brand as the brand helped to bring the personal closing style of the customer one step further. Well done!