The YourStudio Creative Team
People talk a lot about ‘consumer engagement’, and it’s true that on every level, more than creating a ‘space’, as an interior designer, there’s more of a necessity to create an ‘experience’. As brand interior designers, we design environments that will make people enjoy being in, but also spaces that convey messages and instill an attitude that is a reflection of the ethos of the brand we’re working with. A space that feels good to be in will encourage return custom and build up customer loyalty.
When we work on projects, we always put the customer at the heart of the creative process. We look at the kinds of processes that a customer may go through in order to get what they want and need. As much as practical and physical needs, this includes the emotional needs to fit with the mind-states of customers at different stages of their journey.
In a retail environment such as a coffee shop or a beauty store, the customer’s journey is called the ‘path to purchase’. This refers to the journey that the customer goes through in order to get the product that they are looking for. In the course of this journey, the customer may encounter a variety of obstacles, or influences, and need to do a number of things.
It is the skill of understanding how the mind of the consumer is receptive to change or influence at different parts of their journey that marketeers have capitalized on from the ‘50s onwards. The famous scene from Madmen when their ‘world display of beers’ at the end of a supermarket aisles boosts the sales of Heineken for housewives. As interior design agency creating the next generation of customer experience, we want to ensure that everything we design has a positive effect on customer behaviour.
We start by auditing our client’s current consumer journey, looking at what happens, what works and what doesn’t. It’s suprising how many retailers make simple mistakes which can hinder and detract from their service, such as blocking sight-lines to staff at counters with too much product. When we worked with Costa Coffee, we created diagrams to show how some of the best of the independent coffee shops delivered such good service. This research helped us communicate what needed to be change to the client and helped us to design a new ergonomic counter which optimised staff sightlines and views to the product. Costa have gone on to be the UK’s most successful coffee retailer, knocking Starbucks off the ‘No. 1′ spot this year.
YourStudio Audit of Coffee Retail Service
When we are working with one of our clients from the airline sector, the process of mapping the customer journey may be more complex. In the airport, a set of procedures such as checking in luggage, and passing security checks, add to the complexity of transactions that the customer has to go through in order to get what they want.
Some of the Numerous Airline Passenger Touchpoints
Brands talk about ‘touchpoints’, and these are the points at which those customers encounter a brand through interaction. In a coffee shop, the brand touchpoints may be a touch-screen where a customer can find out information about their products, or a counter where they may be served. These points are the most important ‘peaks’ along the customer’s journey that can really affect their perception of whether they’re being treated well and whether it’s easy for them to find out what they need. It’s essential that they’re designed to be as good as possible, and also, as interesting.
Easing Stress-points along the Airline Passenger Experience with Digital Technology
With the advent of new technology, there are also a whole series of ‘digital touchpoints’ which take the ‘path to purchase’ way out of the bounds of the stores. This migration is referred to as ‘from bricks to clicks’. This can range from schemes to encourage people from online to in-store such as web promotions and loyalty schemes such as N.Dulge which we created for beauty retailer Space NK. But the fascinating area which really ties this back to the interior is the way in which the digital and the real spaces merge. There is a phrase ‘realtime’ which means the relaying of information live, as it is happening through social media sites such as FaceBook and Twitter. Retailers and airlines have realised the importance of building up a relationship with their customers in a sociable as well as a functional way.
The N.Dulge Loyalty Scheme for Space NK Designed by YourStudio London
The most fascinating evolution of retail and airline design that we are working on now, is designing concepts for the points at which the integration of digital and realitime experiences into the customer journey will really help consumers. For example, imagine those points where you feel like you need help or assistance, being able to contact your friends easily? In our Vantage concept store, consumers are able to change in the comfort of large changing rooms where they are able to post photos of themselves to selected friends on FaceBook to ask for realtime opinions.
New Retail Concept Integrating Realtime into the Path-to-purchase
As well as these ‘touchpoints’, the layout of space, much like in nature, will affect our feeling of well-being and the ease with which we experience a space. It’s very much like we would navigate our way around in nature. As David Ferrabee, director of management consultancy Able & How explains: “In studies, it has been defined that in open countryside, we are most happy when we know we are adjacent to water, and when we have an unobstructed straight-ahead view of our destination in front of us”. In interiors, long axes and vistas towards something we need to get to will make orientation easy and our mind’s reassured. When we’re at rest, we won’t expound unnecessary energy trying to find things out . In the design of spaces within an airport, putting this concept at the centre of the design-process is essential.
A YourStudio Mood-board looking at Seasonal Colours, Textures and Creative Themes
A further addition to our customer auditing is the Trend Research that we put into every project. We present this information to out clients in the form of books and presentations which excite people about the future possibilities within their sector. To lead with customer experience, it’s essential to look beyond your sector to see what innovation is delivering the next generation of experience to your customers. This is where, as we say ‘your customers will be going next’.
We started YourStudio with a simple statement: ‘we create spaces that are memorable from the first encounter to the final touch’ and we aim to see this through with all of our projects.
For any information about YourStudio- if you’d like us to map your customer journey, or help design a new customer experience, please contact us here.