Thursday, July 8, 2010
Baby Registries and Customer Experience
Thanks to everyone for the live feedback, comments on Facebook and here on the last post. I had fun writing it and researching it. And by researching, I mean that I watched that Huggies commercial multiple times. Hey, I'm easily entertained.
Last month, I told my Budget car rental escapade (here, here and here) and it turned into an excellent discussion of why (and how) Jet Blue (here) and Zappo's (here and here) get it "right" when it comes to customer experience. I also pointed out data from the always reliable Bruce Temkin to demonstrate the causal link between customer experience and business results.
In other words, customer service and customer experience matter. We know that there are top line and bottom line impacts when we don't pay attention to either. And, by this point, the fact that they matter should be more a "preaching to the choir" as opposed to a "teaching moment" for business people. *sigh*
A friend was recently invited to a shower and the shower hosts instructed those invited to visit myregistry.com to purchase from the list the guest of honor compiled. Easy enough, right? Nope. She had to call in reinforcements and when she couldn't find them, she asked me to navigate it with her. It was probably one of the most complex things I've seen in a while.
Have you been to myregistry.com? It's a consolidator of store items into one master registry list. After you sign up for an account on myregistry.com, you can add a "Add to My Registry" button much like you can add a "Share on Facebook" button to your browser toolbar. You can visit any site you wish and if you happen upon a must have item, you simply click "Add to My Registry" and it's added to the master list. You can also sync all of your store registries so, again, it becomes a neat one stop shop. In theory, it's a gift registry tool for good especially for the discerning, discriminating, time strapped or nervous and for people looking to give gifts.
In practice, it's a gift registry tool for good only for the discerning, discriminating, time strapped or nervous bride or mommy to be. It can be painful for everyone else because though one can sync lists from larger department store registries, it's also possible that the registrant can choose one item across multiple, obscure, small sites which, as luck would have it, was the case for my poor friend.
See, the guest of honor had visited multiple smaller retail sites and chose multiple products, many with price points in the $5 - $15 range and her master list reflected all of her great choices. The problem becomes when you make a selection. In my friend's case, if you want to choose multiple items, you're directed to multiple sites with multiple tabs open on your browser. You have to actively select what you want to purchase and go through checkout multiple times (your billing address, the shipping address, credit card info, message, etc). After you go through that, you're to go back to myregistry.com to update the master list.
In other words, there's no link between the master list and the site from which you're purchasing at any step of the purchase process. And, there's no roadmap to explain why multiple windows open when you select an item, that you need to go through multiple checkouts and that you need to return to the master list to update it. Figuring it all out takes a lot of time, a bit of confusion and a smidge of aggravation. Completing the purchases takes a whole other chunk of time, a bit of confusion and a smidge of aggravation, too.
In the grand scheme of things, this might not be "important" at all. It's not on the scale of the oil spill nor does it solve high unemployment. But, it still matters because of how we perceive others' appreciation of our business. As consumers, we have choices. And, as I mentioned in my last post, this unstable economic environment has made us savvier and warier consumers. Our antennae are now trained to pick up "value for money" as we purchase.
As we've said so many times before, the minute by minute customer experience matters. Sure, the "Add to My Registry" button is functionally a great idea but one wonders how much research went into actual user experience? Did they consider scenarios like the one my friend went through? And if they had, why didn't they build an explanatory roadmap so people don't spend time spinning their wheels trying to figure it all out? In other words, why didn't the customer experience matter?
It comes down to strategy, lack of strategy and/or the failure of strategy. You might recall my posts about stress testing from last week (here and here) with this anecdote being a good practical example of why we need to test and retest strategic and tactical premises. On paper, the linkages to multiple sites makes sense but its failure in practice showed a lack of care and precision in execution. The end result: aggravation instead of joy in buying a gift as well as resolution to never use myregistry.com if one can help it.
What's your take? I love those comments!