by Shailesh Manga on 08/02/12 at 3:32 pm
Walking through IKEA over the weekend with two young children was a healthy reminder of what contributes to an ideal customer experience: innovative product design and thoughtful service design. IKEA covers product design with innovative home furnishings that are cost effective. Providing this outstanding product experience is only made complete by wrapping an amazing service experience around it.
Service Design of IKEA
What made our weekend visit great was not the design of the products but rather the design of the service. When done properly, service design creates a consistent experience across the touch points where the organization and customer intersect. There were four key aspects that worked well:
Connection of website to store experience
My wife and I were able to browse the website to find the exact products we wanted to see in the store. The product information included where in the store we could look at the item, down to the specific aisle and bin where we could collect the item.
website tells you specific aisle and bin number of a product
Store maps and bags
Providing maps, pencils and giant shopping bags on entry to the store provided us with tools to plan our journey through the store, and the bags made impulse buying very easy.
there are maps of the entire store so you won’t ever get lost
giant shopping bags for everybody
The very inexpensive meals in IKEA’s famous cafeteria allowed us to fill the kids’ stomachs and keep them happy as we plotted our journey through the store.
a restaurant and café so you can shop and eat
The ability to quickly checkout through a fast moving line meant that the majority of our visits to IKEA was spent with the products and not waiting in line.
self-checkout lanes so you can get in and out fast
The above aspects were all part of an overall service design that helped provide a good customer experience and improve sales. Service design is every bit as important to customer purchases as the products themselves. IKEA’s ecosystem empowered us to shop in ways that were comfortable to us. Just as the user experience industry has moved from usability to the broader field of user experience, service design will start to gain more attention over product design. With increasing market competition, the ability to differentiate yourself in a way that is not easily replicated becomes more difficult. Designing both the product and service experience together is a key strategy in differentiating your organization.
Shifting to a holistic approach for user experience is a challenging task and can often go against the existing structures of an organization. But the combination of product and service is the only way the customer can experience a complete business. Organizations must overcome resistant departmental structures that can make it difficult for them to think this way. As UX practitioners, we should focus on creating both product and service experiences that are so memorable that they leave an everlasting mark in customers’ minds.
Shailesh Manga is a Director at User Centric, a global user experience research and design firm