Customer Experience, Service Design and In-Store Digital Signage

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Nov 21 2013, Posted by Jim Stoklosa

Service design is a specific approach to user experience that takes a holistic view of the end-to-end experience consumers have with a brand. It tries to construct a comprehensive picture of all the touchpoints that create an experience and the organizational functions that create and support it.

A significant part of that experience resides in the digital realm. Consumers use both in-home and out-of-home digital experiences to evaluate and review products, seek peer recommendations and search for pricing. After a product is purchased, consumers may submit their own product reviews and describe their own experience with the product. These experiences can be very difficult for a brand to influence or manage on the consumer’s device.

Service Design Examples

Imagine that you walked into a restaurant, and instead of receiving a menu from the waiter that seated you, you must hop onto the Internet to search for food choices and recipes, check the kitchen’s available inventory and instruct the staff on how to prepare the entrée. Clearly this would be ineffective, time consuming and most likely lead to a less than desirable dining experience. In fact, it would completely defeat the purpose of a restaurant.

Menus exist because they are an important part of the overall experience ecosystem the restaurant is trying to promote and serve an important role in focusing the dinner on the specific items the chef wants to prepare. The menu is an extension of the theme and ambiance of the restaurant and must work in concert with the overall concept. When planning a menu, the chef will incorporate items that fit with the restaurant décor, the ingredients on hand and the overall experience they are trying to create. In other words, in addition to being useful to the consumer, the menu fits into a whole operational infrastructure.

In-store digital technologies should be viewed in much the same way. They should be part of an overall experience ecosystem and provide focus and clarity on the products available for purchase and why they should be considered for purchase.

Digital elements should be an extension of the corporate culture and stay true to the values of an organization.

Reality Gaps

Inevitably a brand’s message and the promise associated with a product experience will occasionally deviate from the reality of a consumer’s experience. These gaps are areas where a brand can display empathy for the experience and seek to create a framework where expectations are realigned with the original intent. An example of this experience might be accessory purchasing (e.g. a keyboard for a tablet). Without a specific instruction, a consumer may be unaware that an accessory may be needed to properly experience the product. Perhaps batteries are needed to operate the product, or a required part is sold separately. A well-designed digital animation can clearly demonstrate the need for the accessory, how it is used and where to purchase it.

Digital experiences have become part of the retail landscape, but only a digital experience created by the brand can truly tell the brand’s story. Moreover, a digital experience needs to fit into the service ecosystem to be truly beneficial to the business and the consumer.

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