"surprise and delight"

18 Jan 2005 - 2:10am
9 years ago
12 replies
684 reads
Listera
2004

When major customers walk into a Circuit City location, CIO Mike Jones
wants to whisper customized sales pitches into their ears‹literally.

Jones's scenario is simple: As customers walk into the store, they receive
a very light wireless headset. As they walk through the store, the device
uses sensors to learn where the customer is. When the customer stops in a
certain area, the headset can explain items, present audio from a TV
demonstration and potentially even connect the customer live with a
centralized sales assistant. In theory, that sales assistant might be 2,000
miles away‹assuming no one in that store is available.

The headphone helper is just one of several non-traditional ideas that
Jones is trying to push through the $10 billion retail chain's corporate
structure. As senior vice president and CIO, Jones knows how much of a
structure the chain's 1,648 U.S. and Canadian locations pose.

"The consumer marketplace today is very much a polarizing place. You have
to decide where you want to play, and we are not going to win on price," he
said. He reasons that radically improving customer experience is mandatory,
especially when selling products that‹for the most part‹are also offered by
their largest competitors.

Circuit City's New IT Approach to Customer Service
<http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1751858,00.asp>

"improving customer experience" What a concept!

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

Comments

18 Jan 2005 - 9:16am
DeleteMe
2005

On Tuesday 18 January 2005 3:10 am, Listera wrote:
>  "The consumer marketplace today is very much a polarizing place. You have
> to decide where you want to play, and we are not going to win on price," he
> said. He reasons that radically improving customer experience is mandatory,
> especially when selling products that<for the most part<are also offered by
> their largest competitors.

I would say that if he really believes that he thinks that this would improve
customer experience, he must be living in a dream land. He certainly does not
know his clientelle.

Talk to someone about what their most hated aspects of shopping at Best Buy
are. I can pretty much guarantee you they will say one of three things:

1) Intrusive employees
2) High-pressure sales tactics
3) High-pressure extended warranty sales

And he thinks people are going to volentairily wear a headset, whose only
purpose is to beam constant sales info into customer ears? And how would this
work while you are shopping with your partner?

Much better idea - Install plenty of barcode-scanner kiosks in the store - one
per shelf would be the ideal. The customer who wants to know more about the
item simply scans it's barcode, and all its details appear on the screen.
Does not distract the customer. No pressure, just information, which is what
the customer wanted.

--
If you wait by the river long enough, eventually
you will see the bodies of all your enemies float by.
- Sun Tzu

18 Jan 2005 - 9:32am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

L> Circuit City's New IT Approach to Customer Service
L> <http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1751858,00.asp>

L> "improving customer experience" What a concept!

Oh, you haven't come across "The Experience Economy" by Pine
and Gilmore then! Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

"Less customer sacrifice turns an ordinary service into a
memorable event"

"Experiences set the stage for teaching the customer to act"

"Nothing is more important than the wisdom required to
transform customers"

"To turn a service into an experience, provide poor service"

"In business-to-business situations, stage experiences are
those where customers pay you to sell to them"

"The history of economic progress consists of charging a fee
for what once was free"

"You are not truly selling an experience unless you charge
admissions"

Lada
UCD consultant, UK

18 Jan 2005 - 9:44am
Josh Seiden
2003

> Listera wrote:
> > He reasons that radically improving customer
> > experience is mandatory

Jason Keirstead <jason at keirstead.org> wrote:
> I would say that if he really believes that he
> thinks that this would improve
> customer experience, he must be living in a dream
> land.

Yes, but this simply embodies the difference between
sponsor and designer. In this case the sponsor
recognizes that good customer experience is important.
He just don't know how to create it.

JS

18 Jan 2005 - 5:22pm
Schlatzer, Kurt
2004

Listera wrote:
> Jones's scenario is simple: As customers walk into the store, they
> receive a very light wireless headset.

What about sanitation issues? Used headset? No thanks.

Kurt

18 Jan 2005 - 6:06pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

SK> What about sanitation issues? Used headset? No thanks.

SK> Kurt

I haven't noticed museums specially clean their handsets before
handing them over to the next visitors... And I haven't noticed
complaints about that either :-)

Lada

18 Jan 2005 - 8:12pm
Robert Alexander
2005

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>Listera wrote:
>> Jones's scenario is simple: As customers walk into the store, they
>> receive a very light wireless headset.
>
>What about sanitation issues? Used headset? No thanks.
>
>Kurt

That's a real issue, Kurt. They'd probably go for ones with
replaceable ear pads, and put them in sealed little plastic bags.

Not that that would matter to me. I'd never put the damn thing on.
I find the whole idea demeaning. The goal, of course, being that
there should be no moment of our lives that we are not subjected to
advertising.

Then again, I might accept the headset the first time. Then, when
handing it back in, I'd just say, "Oh, sorry, I think I broke it."

There's a few gas stations near me that have started running
advertising on TV monitors they've installed at the pumps. The
advertising, complete with loud audio, starts as soon as you start
pumping gas. In my case, the gas pumping stopped as soon as the
advertising started. I went and paid for my $3 of gas, and told them
why I'd never be back to their station.

Rob

18 Jan 2005 - 9:35pm
Josh Seiden
2003

> >[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant
quoted
> >material.]

> >Listera wrote:
> >> Jones's scenario is simple: As customers walk into the
store, they
> >> receive a very light wireless headset.

> >What about sanitation issues? Used headset? No thanks.

> Not that that would matter to me. I'd never put the damn thing
on.
> I find the whole idea demeaning. The goal, of course, being
that
> there should be no moment of our lives that we are not
subjected to
> advertising.

It's funny folks are having such a negative reaction to this
idea.

I would love to have a rich channel of information available
while shopping in an electronics store, and think audio offers
some interesting possibilities. The comparison to the museum
audio tour guide is apt. And if the headset acts as a phone to
connect me to a service rep, why is that bad?

Is it because you don't trust Circuit City? Or as Robert
Alexander envisions, do you presume that this will be an
advertising-only medium? Or is the very idea of audio content
while shopping somehow repugnant?

JS

18 Jan 2005 - 9:46pm
Donna Maurer
2003

You know what would be neat. A headset that I could tell what I wanted, and
it could tell me where to find it! That would be far more useful than
something chattering at me about specials...

Donna

At 01:35 PM 1/19/2005, you wrote:

>It's funny folks are having such a negative reaction to this
>idea.
>
>I would love to have a rich channel of information available
>while shopping in an electronics store, and think audio offers
>some interesting possibilities. The comparison to the museum
>audio tour guide is apt. And if the headset acts as a phone to
>connect me to a service rep, why is that bad?
>
>JS

-------------------------------------------------
Donna Maurer
Usability Specialist
Step Two Designs Pty Ltd
Knowledge Management / Content Management / Intranets

http://www.steptwo.com.au/
donna at steptwo.com.au
(02) 6162 6307

19 Jan 2005 - 12:49am
Marijke Rijsberman
2004

<JS>Is it because you don't trust Circuit City? Or as Robert
Alexander envisions, do you presume that this will be an
advertising-only medium? Or is the very idea of audio content
while shopping somehow repugnant?</JS>

I think the problem with audio is that you have relatively little control
over the information you listen to. While you can scan information in a
visual display (and so keep the advertisements from being too intrusive),
most of us probably anticipate that Circuit City would select audio
precisely because you can't sift through the information as effectively.

On top of that, headsets themselves are repugnant. If the Circuit City guy
had proposed audio devices like most museums have these days (those
thingamabobs you hold up to one ear like a telephone) or a device you could
plug your own headset into, my guess is that the response on this list
wouldn't have been quite so negative.

Marijke
* Global Citizen and Permanent E/Im/Migrant (temporarily stationed in the
San Francisco Bay Area)
* Doing user research and interaction design
* Quite happy to track down a broad variety of cultural references all by
myself

19 Jan 2005 - 5:34am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

DM> You know what would be neat. A headset that I could tell what I wanted, and
DM> it could tell me where to find it! That would be far more useful than
DM> something chattering at me about specials...

Colleagues, you forget that smarties like us (how many people here
have advanced degrees? 50%+?) are as least representative sample of
the population as possible. Ever observed how cleaners, clerks,
blue-colour workers shop? We live and breathe information every hour
we are awake; a trip to a shop is the most tranquil part of the day
for many.

It's not like that outside our world. Millions and millions of
consumers do want to hear about specials, promotions, and new products
- anything that will entertain them and inspire while they shop. Gas
station TV maybe annoying for someone who has just spent 12 hours in
front of a display. How about track drivers seeing little more than a
strip of grey road for most of the day?

Joshua made an interesting remark:
>I would love to have a rich channel of information available
>while shopping in an electronics store, and think audio offers
>some interesting possibilities.

I wonder... If Apple introduced similar guides in their stores,
pumping in pre-release info (not available on their site) about a new
gadget, how many of us would find it appalling? How many wouldn't want
to know about "buy one, get one free" promotion of mini-Macs? :-)

Lada

19 Jan 2005 - 10:27am
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Lada Gorlenko <lada at acm.org> a écrit :

Ever observed how cleaners, clerks, blue-colour workers shop? We live
and breathe information every hour we are awake; a trip to a shop is
the most tranquil part of the day for many. It's not like that outside
our world. Millions and millions of consumers do want to hear about
specials, promotions, and new products - anything that will entertain
them and inspire while they shop. Gas station TV maybe annoying for
someone who has just spent 12 hours in front of a display. How about
track drivers seeing little more than a strip of grey road for most of
the day?

Sez I:

Yes, this is what makes a future filled with even more intrusive and
numerous advertising devices plausible. More than 50 years ago
Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth described such a future in one of the
classics of Science Fiction literature of the 20th century, "The Space
Merchants". It was also published as "Gravy Planet".

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/spacemerchants.htm

It has aged very well, in part due to the fact that Pohl and Kornbluth
never went into the nuts and bolts of technology and stressed instead
the social and psychological aspects of change.

I would also like to qualify Lada Gorlenko's statement a bit: As
IxD/Design/Usability/information professionals we breathe dressed-up, ,
cooked, overcooked, gussied-up, well prepared and over prepared
information day in and day out. On the other hand clerks, truck
drivers and blue collar workers are forced to breathe in and out raw
streams of monotonous information, 8 hours a day or more. When
prettied-up info is finally offered to them in the form of commercials,
once they have punched out at the end of the day, it might just be more
interesting, for some while. It can also be a positive reinforcement of
their status in a consumer society.

P.S. I hope that this literary reference to one of the classics of
Science Fiction will bring Ziya out of the antiseptic hell hole I have
plunged him into by my previous references to so many research papers.

Alain Vaillancourt,
(who is so far North from the center of the universe -New York city-
that the temperature was 20 degrees (centigrade) below zero when he
looked out this morning)

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

20 Jan 2005 - 3:29pm
Sarah Brodwall
2004

On Tue, 18 Jan 2005 20:12:10 -0500, Robert Alexander <gui at ra1.net> wrote:
> There's a few gas stations near me that have started running
> advertising on TV monitors they've installed at the pumps...

Sounds like a job for TV-B-Gone.

http://www.tvbgone.com/

They work like a charm in Best Buy, too. :)

~Sarah

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