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4 Secrets to Home Improvement Customer Experiences that Sell

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Jan 16 2014, Posted by InReality

Customer experiences that win in the marketplace are almost always the ones that help the customer make a decision faster and more easily. They are also often the ones that are the most engaging and intuitive. As such, customer experiences can, and must be intentionally designed.

There are definitely a few secrets to designing and implementing customer experiences that sell in the home improvement industry. Here are four secrets based on a case study of our work with the EverTrue pre-finished interior moulding line by Louisiana Pacific (LP) Building Products in Lowe’s:

1. Understand the “Reality Gap”
In a broad sense, you must realize this truth: there are always gaps between brand promises and customers’ actual experiences and realities, i.e. the “reality gap”. It’s only a matter of understanding the size of these gaps, and which ones to shrink first. When LP Building Products hired InReality to help them re-invent the customer shopping experience for their EverTrue pre-finished moulding in Lowe’s stores, sales for this product had been falling below expectations for a few years. Based on the extensive in-store customer research we conducted, we discovered that customers were lacking the necessary information to make an informed decision during product selection and the inspiration for how to use the products. There was a big gap between what customers needed and what was actually being delivered. When armed with the knowledge of what your customer expects and needs, you can then begin to design the right experience that will sell.

2. Leverage CX as an Opportunity for Differentiation & a Competitive Advantage
Give customers something your competition isn’t giving them. A better and different customer experience creates a positive affinity, leading to higher consideration for your brand. While your competitors are relying on the same old experience, you can focus on improving your customers’ experiences by providing more meaningful, engaging and even enjoyable experiences that make the shopping process more simple and easy to navigate. A key component of the final merchandising design for the EverTrue moulding line was a small vignette of room scenes demonstrating how to use the product. This step really helped the customer to visualize how they could use the various moulding products in both standard and creative ways to add real beauty to their homes. Competitors’ bland and uninformative displays, by contrast, didn’t quite match up.

3. Push the Bar with a Laser Focus on Your Customer
The customer won’t tell you what’s better… unless you let them. It is brands that not only take risks, but that keep their customers in mind while doing so that reap the most benefits. The vignette that we designed for EverTrue moulding was something that had never been tried before in this category. Of course, customers didn’t tell us that they wanted a vignette. Rather, it was an interpretation of the insights we gleaned through numerous one–on-one interviews. After we designed the new concept, we built and tested a prototype of the concept with consumers in focus groups. This direct, pre-deployment feedback allowed us to make minor adjustments to make the solution even more inspiring and effective.

4. Plan in Advance for a Measurement & Assessment System
After you’ve invested all that time and money in creating a new experience, you’ll want to know whether or not it’s working. Sure, bottom line measures like sales increases are important, but other measures can be used as indicators of how well the new experience is working and how well it is helping customers get what they want. There are a variety of research tools and methodologies, including observational/ethnographic research with customers, interviews with store associates, and many others, which will allow you to understand how the new experience solution is working. Many times, the experience solution may need only a small tweak or two. Other times, it may require more substantial alterations in order to keep up with consumers’ changing expectations. Whatever the case, planning from the beginning of the strategy and design process to put a measurement and assessment program in place will ensure that your customer experience solution investment is something that can be measured and improved over time.

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