Posted in Customer Service, Management, People

Do you know your a#@se from your CXD?

Customer Experience is NOT what you think

There are three compelling reasons why (bricks & mortar) retailers should conquer the science and the art of delivering customer experiences.

ONE: Declining manufacturing as a % of GDP.

Even in Australia there has been the increasing reliance on services. According to Wikipedia, the 2010 estimates are as follows:

•           AU GDP by sector: agriculture (4%); industry (24.8%); services (71.2%)

TWO: Consumers will pay more for experiences than they will pay for stuff.

In 1970 spend on services exceeded spend on products for the first time – and in 2009 we spent 2x on services: (66%) of retail spend in the US is on services:

DIY has become DIFM (Do IT For Me).

The challenge you face is to add a service dimension to whatever you sell (product or service.

THREE: Delivering an experience is the single most important, sustainable differentiator.

Web-designers spend a lot of time on (UXD – user experience design) because they understand that if you lose the browser for a split-second it they are gone with a single click. Retailers have the opportunity and the ability to create an experience that counts (CXD) – but few do.

What is a ‘customer experience’?

  • It is NOT customer service.

A clean store, friendly and helpful staff and user-friendly return policies – for example – is customer service not customer experience.

The great unspoken assumption is that you have the base right: great products or services at the right price, presented well and great customer service that meets expectations. Customer service is not longer a differentiator, it is cost of entry.

  • It is NOT shoppertainment.

It is not singing and dancing, it is not plasma screens and things that fall out of the roof – that is shoppertainment, not customer experience.

Customer experience comprises all of the above, but above all customer experience has an emotional dimension.

How do you create the emotional connections?

This is of course quite complicated because human being are complicated – and their emotions especially so.

My favourite new consumer is NewNowLo and she is not Chinese: She is the person that moved from wanting new à demanding new, now at low prices.

The world is changing and people are moving from:

  • Needing stuff >>> Demanding experiences
  • Conformity >>> Customisation
  • Plutocracy >>> Democracy
  • Self >>> Community

Consider just two emotions and a few retailers that do a reasonably good job of delivering that emotional connection.



  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Starbucks




  • Zara
  • Daily Deals
  • Anthropologie


Delivering the customer experience is reliant on the H-Factor. That was the basis of the talk I delivered recently at the Melbourne Retail Expo and Conference.

I have publised the latest newsletter (ReadThinkLearnLaugh). SUBSCRIBE HERE and receive access to the latest issue which contains a series of screencasts exploring how you create and deliver a customer experience. (HINT: customer experience is NOT customer service.) I have based on the presentation menioned above – and there is a special offer for readers 😉


Posted in General, Management

Do you really, really know? Or just think so…

Do you also notice how people often say they know the difference between this and that, but they don’t really, really know? Then there is also a difference between knowing the difference and practising the difference.

Do you (a) know and (b) practise the difference, between:

  • Visual Merchandising vs. Interior Decorating
  • Profit vs. Cash Flow
  • Margin vs. Mark-Up
  • Talking vs. Communicating
  • Listening vs. Waiting for someone to stop talking
  • Customer Service vs. Customer Experience
  • Human Resources vs. People
  • Features vs. Benefits
  • System vs. Process
  • Training vs. Instruction

It may appear to be playing around with semantics, but as I wander through the corridors of retail business, I am astounded by the discrepancy between what people know and what they think they know. (Despite my vigilance, I am sure the same applies to me.)


I was wondering if you can add your favourite to the list above?

Posted in General, Management, Personal Development

A lion, a cow, a horse…WWYD?

1. Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper.

2. When you are done, click on “Check Your Answers” (below).

You are in a desert. You have with you the following five animals:

  • A lion
  • A cow
  • A horse
  • A sheep
  • A monkey

To escape the desert you are going to have to get rid of one of your animals. Which one do you drop? (You can use whatever logic you like BUT keep track of which animal is discarded when!)

You have 4 animals left. The desert is burning up! It goes on for miles. Sand is everywhere. You realize, to get out, you are going to have drop another animal. Which do you drop?

You have 3 animals left. Walk, walk, walk. Hot, hot, hot. Disaster! The Oasis that you were looking for is dried up! You have no choice but to drop another animal.

You have 2 animals left. Ok, it’s a long hot walk. You can see the edge of the desert way on the horizon. Unfortunately, you can only leave the desert with ONE animal. Which one do you drop and which one do you keep?

Before checking your answers, make sure you know which animal you dropped in what order




*Don’t cheat… do it



These answers are based on Japanese Archetypes. The desert represents a hardship. The animals represent . . .

  • Lion = Pride
  • Monkey = Your children
  • Sheep = Friendship
  • Cow = Basic needs
  • Horse = Your passion

So, in the face of hardship, you will sacrifice each of these things in turn. Your last animal represents that thing which you cling to at the expense of all others.

Now whether this is true or not, there is an underlying truth that is worth considering.

When people are faced with a challenge – or even a simple change, they have a ‘default’ behaviour. This default behaviour has likely developed over a long period of time, and through positive reinforcement, the behaviour becomes deeply embedded.

As business people we are facing some challenging times.

We all have to honestly question how we respond to those challenges – and in particular, how we always respond to challenges.

If you find that your response is typically negative or typically positive or typically anything – take a step back and re-think.

It may be a cliché, but it holds true: If the only tool you have is a hammer, every challenge looks like a nail.

Those habitual, ingrained responses; especially the ones we have learned to justify to ourselves, is what stands between innovating ourselves out of this mess we find ourselves in.

Posted in Branding, eTailing, Future, Management

A really QR butt, and it is ok to look

QR codes (Quick Response codes) are growing rapidly in terms of adoption for marketing purposes.

QR codes use proprietary technology (a Toyota subsidiary) but they have elected not exercise copyright. Microsoft has created an equivalent product.

Just like barcodes contain information about a product, the QR code can contain information. But because the Barcodes are one dimensional and QR codes are two dimensional, the type and amount of information is vastly increased.

There are various types of equipment that can scan a QR code, but its growth is fuelled by a range of apps that can be downloaded to your smart phone.

Typically it can be printed on anything:

Marketing collateral, posters, dockets, products and even on bums.

(In the image above, the ladies are sponsored by Betfair, and by snapping the QR code on their bums, you will be directed to the sponsor’s website. Sourced from


QR Codes could link to:

  • Installation instructions
  • Competition entry forms
  • Directions to your business
  • Recommendations for complementary products and services
  • Free mp3 or video downloads
  • Customer feedback forms


Why don’t you try it?

You need to download a QR app to your smart phone.

I use Red Laser (on Android) which is actually a scanner that also compares prices on the fly. (For a video that shows how Red Laser works – and it is a bit scary for retailers – have a look at this video.)


You will note that it actually takes you to a mobile-optimised version of the website.

There is a new service that optimises your site for free (and there is a premium version available too).

To create your own QR code, you can use (the url shortener) or simply search for QR code generators.

Ok, that should keep you busy for the next 30 minutes…


(And let me know what you think in the comments below.)



PS: I am thinking I might do a special feature on QR codes in the next issue of my newsletter. If you think it will be useful let me know (and cast your vote by subscribing in the meantime.)

Posted in Future, General, Management, Strategy

Is it arrogant to proclaim we have the answer?

I am presenting at a conference in September, and as part of my preparation I found this research by Lewis & Dart (2011) where they predict that 50% of retailers/brand will fail. Whilst they do not put a timeline on it – the suggestion is that it will be this decade.

If that does not scare the shit out of you, nothing will.

How do we respond to a challenge of that magnitude?

We can:

  1. Wait for the fear to subside
  2. Ignore the fear and get stuck into it.

Seth Godin recently posted about waiting for the fear to subside.

He says there are two problems with that strategy:

  • By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late
  • The fear actually helps you do it better

Obviously I prefer strategy #2.

And I have now consulted widely enough, researched widely enough and lived long enough to know there is an answer.

I am also [fill in your preferred adjective here…] enough to think that I have the answer.

I am going to share it at a conference presentation in September. You should go.

You can find the details here.

(There is a secret code that knocks almost 30% off the very good price, but you shouldn’t go because you want to save money; go because you want some answers.)

And if yo decide to go, let me know and we can try and catch-up at the conference.

Also – feel free to pass the link/invitation on to people who you think may benefit…


Posted in General, Management, Personal Development

Three-part series on success (Part 3)

Part 3: Tell your story

In this short series on business success, we have so far looked at two steps of the 3-step process.

The final step in the process is to tell your story. And I don’t mean that in a ‘once upon a time there was…’ kind of way. The difference between a good photograph and bad photograph is that one just captures light, the other captures a moment – it tells a story.

A story is a message that has meaning. A story appeals to the emotions. There is a narrative (storyline) that keeps people captivated.

The way you display your merchandise must tell a story. Your advertising message must tell a story. Your offer must tell a story. Your sales pitch must tell a story.

Stories are about ideas and people and events that we care about. And ultimately, our success depends upon whether our story is told well enough, frequently enough and convincingly enough for people to care and finally for people to remember.

ONE: Be credible. Key words are consistency, trust and character.

TWO: Solve a real problem. Key words are discipline, rational and analytical.

THREE: Tell your story. Key words are emotional, passionate and relevant.

Posted in General, Management, Personal Development

Three-part series on success (Part 2)

Part 2: Solving a problem

In the last post we looked at CREDIBILITY; part 1 of a simple 3-step process of being a successful business.

Being credible will get you listened to, but you will only be needed if your product or service solves a real customer need. Ask yourself: What problem does my business solve for the customer?

The mistake that many entrepreneurs make is that they become blinded by their passion. (Reading too many self-help books will do that.) It really isn’t about you and what you are good at.

A successful business is not about scratching your itch, but scratching a customer’s itch. Just because you like baking cakes does not mean there is a need for another patisserie.

Be honest with yourself when evaluating business opportunities. Be ruthless in your assessment of the demand for your product. Are there sufficient customers who will pay money for you to solve a specific problem or address a specific need?

You don’t have to spend big to determine the scope for your idea. But you do have to step outside the emotion. Be rational; think through your venture before you start.

Posted in General, Management, Personal Development

Three-part series on success (Part 1)

Part 1: Credibility

Aristotle, the grandfather of the Art of Persuasion coined the term ‘ethos’ to describe the idea of ethical appeal or CREDIBILITY.

Credibility is a prerequisite for success because your job is to persuade people to buy what you have to offer and your message will not be convincing unless you – the communicator – are believable.

You become credible (in a sales situation or in your advertising communications) in a variety of ways.

One: Incorporate facts from credible sources in your advertising and sales presentations.

Two: Make sure you are consistent (what, how and when you communicate). You can’t be the cheapest today and best quality tomorrow; that is a mixed message that will decrease your credibility. And don’t make unbelievable claims about your business or your offer. (We sell the best coffee in the world.)

Three: Get endorsed by other credible people/ organisations. Be a member of an association or belong to a professional body. Get a stamp of approval.

Four: Be seen in the right company (i.e. with credible leaders). Advertise in the most trusted medium.


Posted in Management, Personal Development, Words of Wisdom

It’s the second step that counts

Last week I posted about the 10 symptoms of a failing retail business. (Symptoms are not the same as the reasons of course.) It is a bit negative to leave at that, so a post about success is in order.

Let’s first do a thought experiment. Think about any failure you have had before. (Business or personal – it does not matter.) Take a moment and articulate that failure in your mind and think about it. (Play along, don’t read ahead.) Just think about the failure – and admit to yourself that you have failed.

Now, replay these thoughts in your mind. When you thought about that failure, did you also think about why it happened? The reason for the failure?

I bet you did.

If the reasons for failure are complex, then it is also simplistic and naive to come up with a ‘magical’ 7-step process to fix it. So I won’t.

I will get you started though. And the first steps are the hardest, so it should be useful.

We all know from the movies that when you go to AA, the alcoholic has to start with an admission of failure:

Hi, my name is So_and_So and I am an alcoholic.”

The thing that you do after that admission is the key to success. But that is step 2. You can’t skip step 1. You have to admit it. You have to accept it. You have to say it; firstly to yourself, and then maybe even publicly.

The cure will be executed in public, and you can’t do that if you are pretending that everything is sweet.

Step 2 is what comes next, and this where people start the failure (or success). The alcoholic goes home and has a drink. The failing retailer sits down and justifies their failure.

This is human nature, and this is also the root of failure. As soon as you admit that you have made a mistake, you come up with a reason why it happened. This is very subtle and it just happens.

The reason is always something or someone else. And this immediately lifts the psychological burden – but also raises a barrier to success.

By identifying (an external) reason for failure, you disown the problem.

So the key to success is to take a few steps/ decisions that will not allow you to explain or justify anything.

Failure is only failure if you continue to fail. If you fix it, it is not failure, but a challenge you overcame.

So what can be done to ensure we take step 2 – and not think about the reasons for failure?

Don’t do research. Don’t ask anyone else’s opinion. Don’t do anything (not even thinking) except do something about remedying the situation immediately.

Simply take an action, any action – even the ‘wrong’ action – and you are on the way to solving the problem.

I can tell you from experience that you will very quickly build a momentum of solving problems and the ‘failure’ can be relabelled a ‘bump in the road’.

If you have taken step 1 and step 2, and they are both right, step 3 becomes so much easier.

  1. Admit it.
  2. Do something – anything.

You’re on your way.

BTW: In the previous issue of RTLL, the notion of success is explores at length (with videos, images etc.)  This is strictly for subscribers only, but I will make an exception this time. If you promise to subscribe (at the bottom of the newsletter), then you can GO HERE. I cover success from a business and a marketing and a personal angle – allow some time to read it.