Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Managing Expectations: Who Likes Waiting?

Recently spotted at Ikea:

The most unpleasant thing about waiting in a retail checkout line is not knowing how long it may take.

Kudos to Ikea for managing that expectation:
- Anything before it: "I'm getting close!"
- Anything after it: "It's less than five minutes now!"

I'd like to see the Transportation Security Administration manage airport security lines in a similar way.


A Simple Employee Engagement Test

Recently finished reading Dan Pink's outstanding book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. (Amazon link; in-depth review to follow soon.)

The book explores many important concepts, strongly rooted in research. But one that really stood out and left me thinking for several days is what Pink refers to as "Reich's Pronoun Test":

"Former U.S. labor secretary Robert B. Reich has devised a smart, simple, (and free) diagnostic tool for measuring the health of an organization. When he talks to employees, he listens carefully for the pronouns they use. Do employees refer to their company as 'they' or as 'we'?"

That's it. Beautiful.

Think about this. What does this simple choice of words say about an employee's level of engagement, loyalty, or advocacy?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dust Hampers the Decision

First, let me state this: I really like Target. Beyond the fact they are Minnesota-based, Target consistently provides a clean, pleasant shopping experience not found in its competitors. As a bonus, there's always a bit of style thrown in.

But, as with any good relationship, they do have a few flaws. (I've written about them here and here.) While these don't fully jeopardize our bond, each of these experiences slowly chips away at my heretofore unwavering enthusiasm for the Target brand. (Don't even get me started on their new "Up & Up" house brand launched last fall…)

My latest encounter with discomfort and disappointment with Target was earlier this month. I was shopping for a water purifier/dispenser; an existing one no longer worked well in a new refrigerator. Off to Target I went.

Arriving in the aisle with water purifiers, I was astounded to see this:

Nearly the full collection of water purifiers -- pitchers, dispensers, etc. halfway down the aisle -- were covered in dust. We're not talking about wee flecks here. The boxes and display samples had a serious layer of dust. This photo truly does not do it justice, but you get the idea.

This is someone might expect to see in the old hardware store around the corner. But a major retailer?! Target?!!

To make matters worse, these were water purifiers. Dust, grime, finger prints -- not things one wants to associate with pure, fresh drinking water.

In disbelieve, I wandered off to browse across the store in Electronics. Imagine my surprise to see another set of dusty product boxes:

With the number of employees roaming a Target store morning, noon, and night, I cannot believe these messes would go unnoticed. Target, without a doubt, has high standards. Perhaps, however, their employees aren't universally attuned to notice these details.

In the end, sure, I bought the water dispenser from Target. But I've also told several people about the experience and now share it publicly with a larger audience.

These details matter.


Slate Series on Signage

In early March, Slate ran an outstanding five-part series by deputy editor, Julia Turner.

Not a lot to say here -- you really have to check it out for yourself. But let this quotation from the first in the series set the scene about the importance of signage on human behavior and emotion:

"Signage—the kind we see on city streets, in airports, on highways, in hospital corridors—is the most useful thing we pay no attention to. When it works well, it tells us where we are... and it helps us to get where we want to go (as when an airport banner directs us to our gate). When it fails, we miss trains, we're late to appointments, we spend hours pacing the indistinguishable floors of underground parking garages, muttering to ourselves in mounting frustration and fury."

Slate series by Julia Turner, March 2010

Part I. The Secret Language of Signs
They're the most useful thing you pay no attention to. Start paying attention.

Part II. Lost in Penn Station
Why are the signs at the nation's busiest train hub so confusing?

Part III. Legible London
Can better signs help people understand an extremely disorienting city?

Part IV. Do You Draw Good Maps?
A professor has been examining hand-drawn maps for three decades. Send him yours.

Part V. The Big Red Word vs. the Little Green Man
The international war over exit signs.

Part VI. A World Without Signs
Does the advent of GPS mean we'll no longer need them?

We're Back!

After taking a few months off to devote to several major academic projects, the Experience Think Tank blog is resuming.

Since its launch in May 2009, it has been heartening to share this with colleagues, clients, and friends.

Glad to be back!