This mobile phone store experience case study shows the benefit of managing design in an agile way by including a review early in a refurbishment programme. We describe our study of customer journeys at 3 flagship stores, to help plan changes to their new stores, which would increase sales, improve operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience
Store refresh, refurbishment, rebranding and reformatting programmes all amount to the same thing – they are about improving the customer experience. However, in most cases the design work is carried out in offices many miles away with little insight to what customers (and staff) think, feel and do.
Customer experience is all about interactions and perceptions. Customers measure their overall experience in three different ways: ‘Was it useful’ – did they get what they want? ‘Was it usable’ – was it easy to get what they want? ‘Was it enjoyable?’ If these factors are not carefully considered, how can we be sure that changes to a store will achieve its objectives? Aesthetics such as branding, image and corporate identity often take priority and rarely do ‘designers’ return to the ‘scene of their work’ to review its success. ‘Did what looked nice on paper prove to work out in real life?’ Not an unreasonable question, but seldom asked.
T-Mobile were bold enough to recognise they had a problem prior to investing in a huge roll out to their busiest, flagship stores. But they did not fully understand why. Various problems at new stores they were testing had been reported by staff, such as difficulties with navigation, location of tills, use of in-store systems and build-up of customers at the entrance. This was impacting staff productivity and morale but also resulting in easy pickings for competitors, who would intercept customers trying to enter the store. In addition, although KPI’s at new stores showed increases in footfall and ‘good’ customer experience scores, conversion rates were much lower compared to older formatted stores. Existing data did not provide a full picture of what was really happening and why.
We were asked to develop a bespoke programme to study the customer experience at a new store as well as two of their older formatted stores. By adapting our research techniques, we identified the different customer journeys each flagship store had to support. We collected data on the demand for each type of journey, individually and collectively, to measure daily and weekly totals as well as peaks and troughs. We also captured data on abandonments and those who chose not to enter the store due to build-up at the entrance. We observed customer and staff behaviours and interactions and identified ‘pinch-points’ caused by the new layout, as well as use of systems, levels of service provision and staff.
Our findings were used to develop conceptual journeys, quick wins and opportunities, which would drive improvements to the physical layout and management processes at new stores. Moving the ‘experience table’ located at the front of the store, would reduce the build of customers and allow space for a sales floor manager role to greet customers and identify needs early on. Additional space at the front of the store would allow top-up machines to be re-located, thus freeing up space further into the store. Removing tills that were never used and re-locating accessories away from the tills, would free up more space and allow staff to focus on ‘new contract customers’ rather than helping customers find accessories. In fact, accessories would be best organised around phone categories, making them easier for customers to find as well as providing potential upsell opportunities.
Every step of the journey was thought through to make it easier and more enjoyable for both customers and staff.
T-Mobile implemented our recommendations and experienced a 6% increase in conversion rate during peak times at new stores they were testing. A key message to retailers is ‘the customer experience’ is the new marketing. Don’t let designers take control. Great painters don’t paint from descriptions, they see the subject for themselves!
AT A GLANCE
- A study of the customer journey experience at one new and two old formatted flagship stores:
- Identified the different journeys flagship stores had to support
- Collated demand data for each journey type, identifying peaks and troughs
- Quantified number of abandonments and walk-aways and why they occurred
- Observed customer and staff behaviours and interactions
- Identified ‘pinch-points’ caused by layout, use of systems and service provision
- Interviewed customers and staff to understand true feelings about the customer experience
- Conceptual journeys, quick wins and opportunities, which would drive changes to the physical layout and store management processes:
- Move the ‘experience table’ located at entrance back – acting as a barrier and causing queue build up
- Introduction of new sales floor management role – to identify and refer potential sales opportunities
- Move top-up facility to front of store – SFM to encourage and promote use
- Divide store into ‘conceptual zones’ supported by clearly defined processes and ways of working
- Train staff in customer approach (not too fast / too slow) – encourage staff not to stand behind tills
- Remove tills never used – create more space for customers
- Move accessories away from tills – re-organise around phone categories
- Eliminate non-value work / unnecessary reporting – more time spent with customers
- Temporarily switch off CRM system – too slow causing build-up of queues at tills
- 6% increase in conversion rate achieved by making simple changes to the customer journey experience and by aligning customer journeys to the physical layout
- Avoided T-Mobile spending millions of pounds on a capital project that would not maximise benefits or return