We are seeing a great shift in service, as experiential and enhanced human interaction is driving a raft of new service offers:
"Choreographing the experiences and interactions between people and brands."
Moving away from simple transactional service interactions like a waiter in a restaurant or store assistant helping us find a perfect pair of jeans, service is evolving into a complex and variable field of its own, going far beyond small moments of interaction between staff and customer to become more choreographed, complex and immersive.
We have defined service into the following four pillars:
- RESPONSIVE Services look at the customer needs and desires and curates lifestyle-based customer experiences
- COGNITIVE Services go beyond assistance with knowledge and insights, engaging the brain through inspiration and workshops.
- SOCIAL Services host experiences to connect communities
- IMMERSIVE Sensorial service will put the experience above products to create total immersion
Revolving service around lifestyle behaviours and aspirations is a much more effective way to build an emotional link between brand and customer.
'We all have access to so much online - you can get almost any product you want online, so an editor is more important. People want to make informed decisions, but they also want to make them quite quickly. The more sites there are, the more information you can get hold of and the more you need curation and an editor.'
- Georgina Harding, co-founder Semaine
The way we browse is changing. With an overload of choice, many brands are curating their experiences and products around their customers' aspirational lifestyles, based on their needs & desires.
Semaine is an online magazine / concept store. Each week there is a different tastemaker that curates a selection of lifestyle products, reading recommendations, artworks and more.
'We felt there was no place where you could really shop at the point of inspiration'
- Michelle Lu, co-founder, Semaine
JW Anderson, The Workshop
Knowledge is power. Smart companies like JW Anderson understand the need to nourish their clients' minds, rather than merely serving their basic needs. At Workshop in Shoreditch, JW Anderson offers insight into current artists, creative collaborations, illustrators, photographers. Basically all the cool cultural currency you need to grow and feed your mind. There is a growing appreciation for knowledge and insights - "20% of British want more education and knowledge in their day to day life," according to O2 Business, 2015. New services arise maximizing usefulness of products, this started with Apple store's workshops on how to use your new Macbook, but this has been taken to a new level with concepts like the Society for Grownups, Jason Markk and Lululemon.
Jason Markk is a US sneaker brand. They offer a 'drop-off shoe care service, lessons in sneaker maintenance called 'sneaker pedicures' and 'sneaker jewelry' customizations. These type of experiences maximize the usefulness and lifespan of a product and appeal to the customers expectation for high level participation and product modification. The service in this experience goes beyond assistance and advice, it requires knowledgeable advice from staff and active participation from customers.
Society for Grownups
Society of Grownups hosts events, classes, dinner parties hosted by financial experts. They create a dynamic environment where service becomes the product, making a boring to-do lister into a fun and social event with personal relevance.
"Society of Grownups was created to help people through the challenges and changes in life that no one likes to talk about, the hard parts of adulthood that everyone assumes everyone else has figured out. We're dedicated to democratizing financial literacy and are approaching the conversation about money in an entirely new way."
- Nondini Naqui, CEO and president of the Society of Grownups.
Lululemon, New York
Lululemon is a global yoga brand. In their new flagship store and community space, Hub Seventeen. They host workshops and classes and offer concierge service. They go beyond-brand advice by helping shoppers locate city running routes, book nonLululemon exercise classes and make restaurant reservations.
Nike's running clubs and Ace Hotel's shared workspace lobby are both great examples where service is more about the community you are enabled to connect with as much as the space you are in. Nike gets you fit, in turn you feel loyal and buy their gear. Ace Hotel sets you up to connect with a bunch of creative and entrepreneurial minds who you may casually share a working table and coffee with. As a result of this shift, retail brands are creating spaces to host experiences. The Ikea Kitchen in Warsaw is a good example - they created this apartment for customers to host dinner parties. It is fully functional, including recipe book, map of nearby groceries and everything to create a nice atmosphere for the party. You can either host a dinner yourself or arrange a delivery onsite. Neither the products or appliances can be bought directly and therefor the space really becomes a social space for friends to gather and hangout. It creates opportunities for casual interactions and meaningful experiences without the actual brand being at center stage. People make the space, more than the space makes the people
Ace hotel lobby, London Nike Community Store Program
More global brands are opening physical stores that aim not just to drive sales, but to create social benefit for its community. Nike opened their Community Store program.
"Here, we have the opportunity to make an immediate, meaningful impact and amplify the values of the Nike brand through sport and community activity. We've built great partnerships with the local Boys and Girls Club, the Eastmont Community Center, and nearby high schools, and are excited about the future we'll build together."
- Blanca Gonzalez, LA-based Nike representative.
Nike's community store program has the mission to "build and empower a healthy local community through the unifying power of sport and to serve as a catalyst for positive change."
Physical retail spaces offer a great opportunity for social services to demonstrate community support in new and innovative ways.
What better way to connect mind, body and soul than through serviced experiences that take you away, employing all of your senses to give you a sense of complete escape. 'Immersive' feeds into consumers' appetites for mind and body, fantastical and sensorial experiences to enrich their lives. It can almost be seen as a form of escapism, with consumers becoming completely embedded within an experience, in some cases, even becoming actors in their own movie.
Bar Luce, Prada Foundation, Milan
Bar Luce at the Prada Foundation, Milan is a great example of Total Immersion. Inspired by Wes Anderson's movies - color-blocked Formica tables, playful and whimsical wallpaper, old school pinball machines, and waiters and waitresses dressed in traditional 50s formal dress serve you coffee and dishes that feel like they're straight out of a movie. Miuccia Prada played a stroke of genius by casting Wes Anderson himself to design this space. It plays out the film script perfectly, down to every last detail from the service style to the set dressing and for one split second, while eating one of the nicely decorated cakes, you believe you are in a different world, it feels real, even though its part fictional.
Bar Luce, Prada Foundation, Milan
"They engage our sense of playful wonder, and allow us a bit of escape from our over-shared day-to-day. Brands that put artistry and vision at the forefront again will be the ones that capture the most attention."
- Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty Images.
Ritualistic hand-washing at Touch Base by Eindhoven Design Academy is an intimate experience of service, small, but meaningful. A little mountain of soap flakes sits on the floor and next to it a man, who seems to have a ceramic arm extension. To wash your hands, you pick up a few white soap flakes and the man pours water for you from this strange vessel. Enhancing that moment of human interaction, this ritual transforms a simple functional need into an unforgettable encounter.
Touchbase, Design Academy Eindhoven
YourStudio employ the philosophies above to design retail, hospitality and workspaces with human behaviour and experience at their core.