Sunday, February 18, 2007

8 steps to better experiences, part 1

Blogger Adam, who writes a great new blog called Work*Play*Experience asked,
"Where can we find your full 8 steps, Stephanie?"

Thanks for asking. I'd been waiting to discuss them in detail until my new Web site was up. Here's the link to my 8 steps, with a fun little slide show to illustrate them.

I took many forms of input (museum evaluation, learning research, consumer behavior studies, hospitality) and synthesized them into my 8-step process. It's certainly not the only way to look at experiences, but I'm finding with my clients that it's a helpful framework for breaking down an experience, whether at a doctor's office, a museum, a restaurant, a theater, or any bricks-and-mortar business. (I think the process can also work, with modification, on Web sites, but that's not my area of expertise. If you are a Web usability guru, feel free to chime in!)

1. Invitation: All the ways that you invite people to your place of business, including marketing, PR, advertising, print pieces, and your Web site. This gets a customer from their home to your parking lot. Your identity/logo and market segmentation fit into the process here. Have you clearly defined who you are trying to reach? See this post on Route 66.

2. Welcome: Once they've parked (or are walking or bicycling within a block), your front door or entrance needs to get their attention, set the stage, and welcome them in. This includes the first greeting, whether that's from someone sweeping out front, a security guard, or an official greeter or ticket-taker. Customer service training fits in here. If they don't receive a warm welcome, their first impression of your place of business is forever tarnished. See this post on Costco and this one on throwing an event.

3. Orientation: Once they've gotten inside and been greeted, do they know what to do? Can they find what they're looking for? Do they understand how long things will take and how much waiting there will be? All of these factors help people relax and feel psychologically comfortable and respected. This includes wayfinding sign systems, maps, and check-in procedures. For very small shops, orientation isn't as critical, but it always helps to offer an explanation to someone who looks confused. See more on orientation at the Cerritos Library.

4. Comfort: This step covers everything you can do to meet both physical and psychological comfort needs--seating, food, restrooms, cleanliness, good lighting, and safety features. This step primes your customers/visitors/patients to receive whatever information, services, or goods you want them to learn or buy. If people's basic needs aren't met, they can't attend to what you are trying to teach, sell, or provide. More on comfort here.

Tip of the day: Note that there are four steps before you pitch them on what you do. These four steps prime them to be receptive to your message.

To keep this post a reasonable length, I'll pick up the other four steps next time. They are:
5. Communication
6. Sensation
7. Common sense
8. Finale

This process is the basis for my first book, Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens, and Libraries. Chapter 1 is now available for free download. Let me know what you think!

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1 comment:

  1. Love your 8 steps - and I can't wait to read your book. Great job as always!