Wholefoods Shows the Value

August 2, 2009

Nice article in Slate on why Wholefoods is not extinct. The perception of many consumers is that the upscale organic chain’s is too high priced. To combat this, Wholefoods has been promoting “the value” of its items through various promotions and newsletters. It has also commissioned “value tour guides” in it’s stores to point out the bargains to be had. Revenues have remained flat, which in this economy has lead to a surging stock in recent months.

This is another aspect of customer experience design that does not get much press. It’s the idea of understanding your key gap areas, and finding creative ways to change perceptions at all touchpoints. Healthcare companies have the same need to show the value they provide to consumers who have a choice of plans. Similarly, certain automotive brands need to build awareness of their selling attributes, such as the “greenness” of their technology (e.g., hybrid vs. diesel) or safety or performance.

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Can we really WOW customers?

March 21, 2009

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Yes.

For all of our focus on finding loyalty drivers and fixing the current touchpoints, WOW-ing customers sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. It shouldn’t! Finding new ways to engage customers and create armies of promoters is really the endgame of any loyalty program. This is how we create competitive advantage.

Fred Reichheld tackles this topic in  his excellent blog, but leaves to others the “how-to’s” of getting to that WOW plane.

In my experience, WOW offerings usually fall into two categories: they either a) are tailored to my specific, expressed needs or b) are responsive to some unexpressed need. In the first category are one-to-one experiences that make my life easier, such as online shopping sites that store my information and make transactions faster. In the latter category are meta experiences that help customers accomplish their overall goal – such as the Apple store’s Genius Bar (an overused example) or children’s entertainment in our favorite grocery store (Stew Leonard’s).  The trick is to understand the underlying customer need and find creative ways to help them accomplish their goals.