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Friday, August 04, 2006

Walking in Her Shoes

"Sexy feet in b&w" originally uploaded by la vista de aca. From the "Take a Walk in Her Shoes" fundraiser for Chrysalis city, a women's domestic violence resource center in Gainesville, FL. In color, it is known as "Men in Heels".
sexy feet in b&w
Taking the time to walk in your customer's shoes is vital. It gives you a chance to view the world from her perspective, to see things with a new set of eyes, to experience what she experiences without blinders.

An article from the 7/30/06 Gwinnett Daily Post titled "Retailers look at what triggers consumers to spend their money" offers a fascinating look at what Paco Underhill , author of "Why We Buy", referred to as the "Science of Shopping" in his recent conference on the topic. The article states: "More sophisticated then ever, retail is a science that uses psychology and anthropology to find what shapes consumer behavior."

This has become more critical as retailing has gotten increasingly more competitive. Those retailers not taking this seriously [i.e., think traditional department stores] are falling by the wayside; those that do are generating buzz, loyalty and profits.

The article is a fun read -- bringing up examples of how music, mirrors, lighting, wooden tables, aroma [men prefer the smell of cinnamon rolls!] can enhance the shopping experience -- and references Paco Underhill: "Underhill thinks retailers have to be innovators. After all, consumers are becoming older, wiser and harder to please. At the same time, the retail playing field gets more crowded every year."

Walking in your customer's shoes is not limited to retail. Many other industries are getting into the act. For example, banking! This article, titled "Talk to Our Customers? Are You Crazy?" by Ian Wylie from the July 2006 issue of Fast Company describes the process that Credit Suisse is taking via "experience immersion", created by customer-experience renegade David McQuillen, to make itself more relevant to its customers.

It seems that too many companies "simply assume that customers are just like them. No, they're not, says McQuillen. And the problem with thinking they are is that companies end up creating products and processes that suit them, not their customers. "You need," he says, "to go out and talk to customers to find out what they want."

The result has generated changes in bank branch design, projects to reduce wait time, and generally make it easier for customers to do business with Credit Suisse. Wow!

Another example, chipmakers! This article by Bary Alyssa Johnson titled "How To Build A Better Product—Study People -- Anthropology Moves From The Classroom To The Corporation" offers another fascinating glimpse on how walking in your customer's shoes provides you with priceless insight. Indeed, "consumers have so many choices today, so you have to work hard to understand what people want and need."

So, what size shoe is she?

P.S.: If you haven't read Underhill's "Why We Buy", you should do so. It will forever change how you look at the retail experience. I reread it every 12 to 18 months and have included it in my Recommended Reading section under Retail Trends.

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