Sheridan Orr

Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Customer Experience Lessons from the NBC Olympic #epicfail

In Brand, Customer Experience, Retail on July 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm

What retailers can learn from viewer frustration at NBC Olympic coverage.

I watched Bruce Jenner before he was a Kardashian.  I cried when Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect ten.  I ran the school track barefooted because Zola Budd rocked.  Therefore, I eagerly anticipate the Olympics.

With this joie to vivre, I opened a jar of hummus and a Pabst Blue Ribbon (I’m patriotic too) at 4:00 on Friday.  I anxiously scanned 2000 channels only to find that the opening ceremony was tape delayed.

Moreover, I was blocked from the BBC live coverage because of the agreement with NBC.  After consulting with my tech friends, I downloaded Tunnel Bear and tried to watch it that way to no avail.

My frustration at being blocked from live coverage was compounded by the fact that Twitter and other social media were buzzing with images and comments from the ceremony—a ceremony that I could not watch for another three hours.  I returned the hummus to the frig, but kept the PBR out to nurse the agony of defeat.

A New Hash Tag is Born

Once the broadcast started, my annoyance erupted to frustration.  The commercials were overwhelming, the commentary made even my 13-year-old son say “They really don’t know much do they, Mom?” and many poignant parts of the ceremony were edited out in favor of commercials and interviews.

Two hours into it, I gave up but not before seeing that I was not alone. Twitter was no longer buzzing.  It was flaming and the most popular hash tag was #NBCfail.

As a businessperson, I understand that NBC paid $1.2 Billion for the Olympic coverage and needed to recoup that investment.  However, the way they treated me as a customer, made me dislike the brand, abandon the coverage and lose my enthusiasm for the games.

Some of the problems that NBC had with the Olympic coverage are not unlike things that retailers do to annoy their customers.

Real Time in a Social Media World

For the past year, the 2012 Olympics have been touted as the “first social media games.” As such, NBC should have figured there was an expectation for real time data.  In a globally connected world, ‘now’ is the norm.

A delay of three hours feels like an eternity.   In that amount of time, the meme is old and something else is trending.  Because of this fast transmission of information, consumer patience is at an all-time low.

The competing demands of modern life make time a precious commodity.  If you don’t value your customer’s time, then they will go elsewhere.

Don’t Dumb it Down

Because of easy access to information, Gen Y might not be able to name all the state capitals.  Instead, they’ve become very adroit at looking things up.  Moreover, they are worldly and politically astute

Jokes about the names of countries or saying how Sudan has that genocide thing sorted do not endear you to customers no matter the generation.

This is especially true because there were many interesting things that could have been discussed.  For instance, the success of Tubular Bells actually launched Virgin Records.  Why did the commentators feel the need to focus on the vapid rather than the relevant and interesting?

Today’s consumer is sophisticate and craves information that is factual and in context.  If you try to be gimmicky you will alienate rather than endear your customers.

Over Restriction Causes Revolt

Because NBC blocked me from seeing content in other avenues, I went out of my way to circumvent them.  Moreover, I’ve only watched one bit of coverage since then—the women’s gymnastics.

If Nadia Comaneci was competing in this year’s Olympics, I’d surely have missed it because the camera was trained only on Americans.  Isn’t that the fun of the games?  To see the diversity?

Because I felt so restricted as a consumer and viewer, I opted out.  Instead, I get my coverage from other sources.  If you are too restrictive in policies, then your customers will seek ways to avoid engaging with you.

Quid Pro Quo

Part of the bargain of network television is that you get free content and they get to market to you.  Likewise, your customers know you need to make money in order to remain open to serve them.  However, they expect things to be reciprocal and in balance.

Unfortunately, NBC quit respecting my time and interests by airing a commercial every five minutes and eliminating coverage—like the tribute to the London bombing victims in favor of Ryan Seacrest.

In addition, NBC did their advertisers a disservice.  I was so bombarded that 1. I can’t remember any specific advertisement and 2.  I was irritated with the abundance of commercials and that had a transitive effect on the brands presented.

When you lose sight of why your customer is there and instead focus on your own objectives, you risk alienating them.  Customers understand you need to make a profit.  However, you need to ensure that they never feel victimized as you do so.

More commercials than content made viewers abandon NBC coverage.

Summary

NBC had an opportunity to create energized customers for themselves and the brands they represent.  Instead, they spawned two popular hash tags #NBCfail and #NBCsucks.   Some steps you can take to ensure that you don’t end up as the unpopular meme of the day are:

–       Ensure that you respect your customers’ time and provide them with the data they need when they need it.

–       Realize the clock has sped up and that means customers expect things ‘now’. Design your systems and processes with that in mind.

–       Recognize that today’s customer is sophisticated and resourceful.  Talk to them in a language that acknowledges this.  Yes, they want information in bite-sized morsels, but they don’t want it to be without substance.  The cardinal rule is to be authentic and useful.

–       Consider whether or not your policies and procedures are highly restrictive and designed without mutual benefit in mind.  If they are, you force your customers to go elsewhere.

–       Remember customers understand you need to make a profit.  However, they want to feel like they received value.

Think of social media as an opportunity get real time feed back.  If you listen and adapt then you will continually improve the customer experience. Hopefully, NBC will rectify some of their challenges before Rio in 2016.

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Four Hot Retail Trends Made Better by Customer Self-Service

In Customer Experience, Retail, Self-Service on June 11, 2012 at 8:01 am

Even iconic Liberty is setting up a temporary location to attract Olympic visitors

London is buzzing this summer.  People flocked to the city for the Diamond Jubilee. While it captivated the world’s attention, it was just a warm up for the Olympics.   As athletes and devoted fans from around the globe descend on the city, retails are getting prepared.  Therefore, you can see some of the hottest trends in retail on steroids.  Four in particular are made better by incorporating self-service or kiosks.  They are:

  • Pop Up Locations
  • Smaller Footprint Stores
  • Millenials
  • International Shoppers

 POP UP LOCATIONS

 London real estate was already at a premium.  However, the massive influx of people this summer has made that even more pronounced—especially in locations surrounding the Olympic venues.  Therefore, retailers are getting creative with pop-up locations.  Even Liberty, the famed British department store has taken a temporary space in an outdoor area on the main promenade where Olympic revelers will pass en route to the park.

Trendy retailer H&M is opening a sports-focused store that will feature active wear in Union Jack colors.  These stores will be open for ten weeks in Covent Garden and Westfield Stratford City.  It isn’t just London that is seeing this trend, H&M is opening a pop up location in Miami Beach this summer.

The value of pop ups is being recognized by other entities beyond retailers.  EBay created several pop up locations.  Wired Magazine erects an electronics pop up in New York at Christmas every year .  Even the Flaming Lips have puckered up to the pop up trend .

Retail expert, Brian Walker from The Retail Doctor told Smart Company, “Pop-up shops give you instant accessibility, instant wow factor if done well, and put you in environments that you might not be otherwise.” He continues,  “A pop-up shop is an extension of the brand and should be treated that way – so investment of capital is key.”

Pop ups allow retailers, websites, magazines and even bands to capitalize on compelling events and locations as well as keep their brand top of mind.  Because of their temporary nature and space constraints, pop ups typically have limited selection.  By introducing self-service, kiosks or tablets, pop ups could be nimble as well as offer a broader range of items.

These locations are ideal for endless aisle types of applications.  Moreover, shoppers heading to the Olympic park or to South Beach may not want to be burdened with parcels.  A kiosk would allow visitors to purchase from the extended offerings as well as have items delivered at their convenience.

 SMALLER FOOTPRINT STORES

 Even after the Olympics, London real estate will be at a premium.  For brands and retailers interested in a more permanent spot in highly desirable locations, the smaller footprint store has become a mainstay.  Over the past few years, giant retailers have responded to changing consumer behaviors and adopted a more focused approach. Smaller footprint stores are ideal for urban locations and create a more European shopping model where consumers visit the stores daily—which is ideal for brand engagement.

Target created stores that were almost half the size of their traditional stores (60,000 sqft vs 120,000) for their urban locations.  Walmart Express was born to allow the retail giant to fit into this new reality.  In addition, stores like Kohl’s and Office Depot are embracing this trend and getting away from the mega store to broaden their appeal.

Like pop up locations, these smaller footprint stores are unable to carry the full product portfolio. Not to mention, have you ever tried to wheel your newly purchased office chair through the streets of Seattle?

The limited space and the realities of urban living make these locations ideal for kiosks, which can expand product and delivery options.  In addition, these stores don’t have room for support staff.  Retailers could take advantage of hiring kiosks to off load many of the human resource tasks.  This would ensure that associates focused primarily on the customer.

 EMERGENCE OF MILLENIALS

 Millenials are not only the athletes in this year’s Olympics they are a large percentage of those who will be drawn to the games. In a previous blog, I wrote about how self-service and Millenials are an ideal match.

Millenials will outspend Baby Boomers by 2017; however, they also currently punch above their weight.  That means they spend more than their actual purchasing power.  In addition, they shop in an entirely different way than their parents—who they trust less than random people online.

To meet the demands of this generation, retailers need to ensure that reviews are easily accessible.  Kiosk or shelf level tablets would be ideal to help these informed consumers complete purchases.  Because they are wired all the time, they are great researches and users of technology.   You don’t want to put your associates in a position where a customer pulls out their phone to show them they are wrong about their own products or specials—which could instantly derail a purchase and mar your brand.

According to a RSR paper, The Retail Store in Transition, an uninformed associate is worse than no associate.  Moreover, most Millenials don’t even want to bother talking to an associate.  They’d rather interact with an avatar or something ‘less human’.

Retailers can appeal to this demographic by ensuring peer reviews are available through out the store, providing easy access to information in a visually appealing way and empowering associates with technology to further the conversation.

Self-service and kiosks are ideal for this.  However, be aware that this is the Apple Generation and it has to be sleek, elegant and modern.  Any boxy, clunky things that are not graphically appealing or don’t work on the first try will be quickly abandoned and Tweeted about, Facebooked and Pinned under #fail.

 INTERNATIONAL SHOPPERS

 When I was growing up, Italian food was considered exotic.  Now, even in my small suburban town, I can eat at 30 different ethnic style restaurants and encounter six different languages on any given day.  This diversity is changing the shopping landscape.  Every four years we are reminded of how diverse our world is with the Olympics.  Can you imagine being an associate at the H&M location in Covent Garden trying to articulate the merits of products to people from every country on the planet?

Self-service and kiosk can make life easier for both the associate and the shopper by providing information in multiple languages.  This trend isn’t just for retail, but healthcare, public spaces like airports and public transit as well as universities.  Providing information in multiple languages in a single location is simple with a kiosk whether it is products, services, frequently asked questions, timetables or way finding assistance.

SUMMARY

With summer heating up and the biggest shopping days ahead of us, retailers should consider how they are going to make these trends even better shopper experiences.  Self-service can make small spaces have big impact by expanding offerings.  It can help limited staff meet growing demand by offloading administrative tasks such as managing job applications.  In addition, it can bring the viral, social shopping experience into the store by incorporating reviews and rankings.  Finally, it can create a personalized experience no matter which language you speak.

Sources:

http://www.theretailbulletin.com/news/hm_sports_to_launch_london_popups_05-06-12/

http://www.smartcompany.com.au/retail/050090-the-three-retail-models-changing-the-way-consumers-shop/2-2.html

http://thenextweb.com/uk/2012/05/25/samsung-is-introducing-pop-up-stores-in-london-for-a-slice-of-that-olympic-money/

http://www.sas.com/news/sascom/2012q1/industry_spotlight.html

http://www.retailgazette.co.uk/articles/03202-hm-launches-sports-range-with-two-popup-shops

http://www.businessinsider.com/17-most-creative-pop-up-stores#horned-creatures-served-as-mannequins-among-fake-shrubbery-9

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