Monitoring the online customer experience, by Mark Hurst.
More Resources

Get Good Experience by e-mail: click.

Download Managing Incoming E-mail report

Gel conference, April 2004, New York City

Case Study in Customer Experience

Thursday, April 22, 2004
by Mark Hurst

Get Good Experience by e-mail: e-mail

Last week I came across a case study of a sharp, customer-centered businessman, published in a top U.S. magazine:

He would stand outside stores and observe the behavior of customers through the windows; later, as the customers departed, he would ask them what had compelled them to buy, or why they had decided to buy nothing and what they had been hoping to find.

I was impressed with the forward-looking, customer-centric research: observing customers' natural interactions, asking them open-ended questions about their behavior, without requiring pre-written tasks or a large, statistically accurate sample.

In other words, his research wasn't too different from that of Creative Good and other customer experience practitioners.

Question: Who is this customer experience guru with such modern methods and strategic thinking?

Answer: Hallmark founder Joyce C. Hall, conducting customer research in the year 1915. Hall wanted to know how and why customers bought greeting cards, and how the process could improve - back when the concept of greeting cards was still very new.

The New Yorker article goes on to say about Hall:

He gradually concluded that people used cards to maintain emotional contact with friends and relatives, and that they wanted cards that helped them convey personal feelings that they were unable to forurmulate on their own.

This insight was the foundation of what would one day be a global business.

One insight built the global business. All it required was simple, to-the-point research and some clear thinking to extract the relevant conclusion.

Here's what Joyce didn't do:

- Create tasks for customers. "You want to find a 'Happy 20th Anniversary' card that isn't too sentimental. Ready? Go."

- Ask abstract, focus group-style questions: "If you could design any sort of greeting card, what would it be?"

- Rely on surveys or a statistical sample. "In surveys of 500 card buyers, they rated 'funny' second out of five criteria."

- Use a complicated framework. "The analysis of the customers' mental model yields a semi-continuous persona in this ontological ethnographic visualization."

Simplify, simplify, simplify. Conducting common-sense research, and applying sharp strategic thinking, can yield dramatic results. (Especially if the company's top brass - the CEO, if possible - is physically present during the research.)

P.S. Find the article in the print version, since it's not online. "Card Tricks," by David Owen, The New Yorker, April 19 & 26, 2004.

- - -

Get Good Experience by e-mail:

- - -

Come to the conference! Good Experience Live, Friday, April 30, 2004 in New York City.

Back to Good Experience

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Get e-mail updates of e-mail

Copyright 1999-2003, Good Experience, Inc.