I bought a dress today.
It is made from soft and expensive European fabric, tailored to perfection by a genius who understands the curves of a woman and I feel like Esther Canadas (minus the lips) in it. So why again am I not a happy customer?
Product design clearly has been a focus for this clothing brand and the design turned out beautifully.
It really is one of my favourite things to wear. However the lack of investment in UX (user experience) and innovation really deters me from ever buying from this brand again.
My dress size was sold out in store and the shop assistant failed to check the other stores for my size or tell me that I can order the dress online. When I ordered the dress online, I received the wrong dress size. I returned the dress at my own expense and asked for the correct dress size. I waited for weeks for my dress to arrive but it didn’t. Instead I was given a full refund for the dress. When I rang up to ask where my beautiful dress was, I was informed it was sold out hence the refund. It was sheer luck that I found the dress in another online store where my dress size was available AND on sale.
My experience was the result of many things, e.g. badly trained sales personnel, lack of communication and mediocre customer service. The fact that the dress is absolutely beautiful is not going to make up for this experience.
In today’s competitive world where products are bigger, better and replaced every minute (also known as ‘Upgradia‘), going beyond the product is key to success. And I don’t mean kick ass customer service or creative advertising campaigns.
The experience with a brand should not be driven by the product, but by insights into the customer and how he/she might use the product.
By looking beyond the product to take a broader view of customer issues and activities around your product, brands can find new ways to address unmet needs, fuel differentiation and generate positive WOM.
In the case of my dress, I wanted something nice to wear for a date with my new boyfriend. When I walked into the store, I did not need a dress. I would have bought something else if the sales assistant had asked me about the occasion and helped me find another hot number. But that is just simple customer service 101.
When it comes to fashion, experience innovators like Asos and The Iconic know what their customers need and want beyond their products.
Both online stores stock the latest fashion brands like many other online stores, but both stores also feature fashion and style tips, super fast delivery, free returns and behind the scene footage from fashion shows. Asos and The Iconic not only sell you the dress, they show you which shoes and accessories go with it, which celebrity wore a similar outfit etc. The online user experience is second to none but if you need assistance and would like to speak to someone, the live chat function is there to connect you with a sales assistant. Too easy.
Another good example is Uber, the car service. There are many cab and car services to choose from and Uber did not heavily focus on product design, e.g. changing the cars or retraining drivers. The focus for Uber is the user experience and as a result, Uber changed the entire process of ordering a car from how to order and meet to pay for a car.
By taking a broader view of what a car service should be, Uber was able to improve the entire experience which addresses hassles such as long waiting times, not having cash, losing recipients, etc. Uber is growing like wildfire and is able to charge a lot more than the typical cab as a result.