Posts tagged “touchpoint”

Putting the brand into the details

We had a fun strategy session yesterday with a local small business owner, uncovering their unrealized business goals and exploring how they can grow. One area that we kept coming back to (and one that honestly I think we could always do a better job at in our own practice) was to consider all the ways that people interact with your brand and to approach each of those creatively, considering how that interaction could be differentiated, improved, and made more relevant to your brand. Here’s a couple of examples.

In Amsterdam, Albert Heijn is the leading grocery chain. As tourists, we needed a cheap SIM card to drop into our unlocked mobile phone. The different options were commodities, all priced identically. But this packaging swayed us. It’s a grocery store’s branded mobile phone service and it is packaged like something you’d find at a grocery store! How charming! Sadly, the printed instructions and the voice prompts were all in Dutch. Worse, even our Dutch-speaking friends weren’t able to get us up and running; we had an account with a zero balance. So while the packaging was persuasive at purchase time, the idea of getting mobile service from a grocery chain now seems rather stupid and I’m only reminded of how we wasted 15.00€.

The bathroom signage at the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels use the same vernacular that the organization celebrates. This is a very simple detail, inexpensively realized, that added a small moment of delight to a necessary errand.

See more pictures from Amsterdam here and from Belgium here.

We really don’t want you as a customer

In 2006 (remember them? I barely do) decided to delete my inventory for sale as a response to level of activity not meeting their standards.

Today I got this email

I haven’t been selling my stuff there for two years, since, well, they got rid of my inventory listings. And now I won’t be buying stuff since they aren’t going to maintain my wishlist? I am amused at the patronizing and punitive tone they’ve taken in writing this email. One wonders what the cost is for them to maintain this data, and what they gain by purging their database of crappy customers like myself.

Of course, there are so many more positive ways they could come up with to encourage my action. What sort of non-monetary incentives could they provide for getting me to add something to my wishlist in the next 24 hours? They’ve got this amazing opportunity to interact with me and make it positive, instead they ridiculously negative about it. Wouldn’t you expect better from eBay?

Telling customers buh-bye!

A follow-up to a previous entry (in which planned to remove my inventory from their system if I didn’t make a purchase, etc.), now Hilton is going to drop me from their loyalty program if I don’t stay there soon

As a member of Hilton HHonors, you are very important to us. That’s why we want to give you an opportunity to reactivate your HHonors account before it is closed and the HHonors points you’ve already earned are forfeited.

[pitch to sell me a credit card]

You may also keep your HHonors account open beyond September 01, 2006, by taking advantage of one of the following options:

[stay with them, buy something etc.]

If you do not take one of the actions above by September 01, 2006, your HHonors account will be closed and all accumulated points will be forfeited. Prior to your account closing, you may redeem your HHonors points for any eligible reward. After the points are redeemed, your account will be closed by the date above and all remaining points will be forfeited.

Forfeited? I think I stayed at a Hilton in December, and previously in October (I could be wrong, frankly I don’t differentiate between hotel brands too clearly, there’s other things to take up space in my brain), but now I’m to be forfeited? I wonder what trend in loyalty (as a business construct) is leading to this shedding of non-profitable customers, or even this threatening-with-expulsion mentality. I’m not sure what I’m costing Hilton. If I’m not an active customer, don’t target any promotions to me. But why dump me? Or, why threaten to dump me as a way to motivate me to become a better customer? There’s no carrot, only a stick.

At least, as I wrote in the previous entry, they are warning me. Starwood just dumped me without notice and caused all sorts of usability hassles when I tried to make a reservation using what I thought was an active membership number.

Take One We Value Your Comments

These feedback forms in the SFO Long Term Parking bus shelter are always empty. Someone has written Ha Ha Ha as a sarcastic bit of feedback, presumably about the implied hypocrisy of an unmaintained feedback mechanism.

There’s a phone number (that would ideally be covered by feedback forms) that you can call from a telephone (if you’re carrying one) or a courtesy phone (once you get into the airport itself, a 10 minute drive away), for parking information. Parking information? You’ve already parked, if you’re seeing this. The sticker is out of sync with the feedback form holding function.


(see similar recycling icons as well as what they mean here)

My hair gel comes in a plastic container that doesn’t have any such logo; rather it has a circle with the letters PET in it. For some reason, they aren’t using the standard symbols, and so I really don’t know if I can recycle it. Beauty product/consumer product companies are usually pretty responsive, so I sent an email describing the logo on the package, and the logos that I expect to find, and my concern about being able to recycle their product.

Here’s what they sent back

Thank you for visiting Garnier on the Web.

We do not have prepared information to send you in answer to your specific questions.

We want to assure you that we are committed to the protection and respect of the environment. If you are interested in learning about the significant efforts made by our company, we invite you to consult our website at You will find details on our environmental policy under About L’Oreal. The “” website is the corporate site of the L’Oreal group of companies worldwide.

I was honestly expecting some info that I could use. Does anyone know the PET-in-a-circle icon? I don’t want to assume and ruin the batch or whatever happens if you send something non-recyclable through the system (and gee aren’t there a lot of mythologies and confused perceptions around what actually happens to stuff we put in the recycling boxes?).

Ah well.

Valet screening

Yesterday I was selected for secondary screening while going through airport security at SFO. It started off rather typically, with no explanation from the person who checks ID and boarding passes, only an instruction to follow a certain path. It’d be nice at that point if they told you what was going on. I follow the path I was directed to – a long and narrow corridor between the wall and those straps-on-poles (were that I was hip enough to name those by brand!) – a long and twisting path that eventually reached a dead-end. I was confused, so I turned around only to find a security person was ducking under the straps to join me.

He was exceedingly polite, and extremely patient while I did as he requested, provided boarding pass, unloaded my laptop, took off my shoes. He made suggestions gently (“I’ll get you a container for you to put your bag and your shoes in”). And he told me what was going to happen next (“If you could come with me, sir, we’ll just stand here and wait to go through”).

Instead of treating me like a presumed criminal, I actually felt a bit of privilege. Partly by singled out, but partly because of a certain experience of access. My bags were put through the X-ray machine ahead of others, with somebody carrying them for me and getting the nod to lay them on the belt as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I was able to stand out of the line, in a space in the middle where no one else could stand (since they had to remain in line). I went through the metal detector myself and was directed to a little holding area. After a call of “male, secondary” went out, I encountered a man waiting there for me told me immediately (calling me sir) where I could go next, pointing to an area that required me to pass the end of the X-ray machine, and go around behind. And then I was “free” to traipse over there myself, crossing several zones and lines that the normal passenger wouldn’t go through.

Two different people greeted me there, one of whom smiled nervously (the nervous smile of youth and introversion, simply) at me with a mouth full of braces. He dealt with my bag, and another did the search. They weren’t extroverted, they weren’t bossy, they were comfortable and friendly. Stand like an airplane, palms up. Face this way, so you can see your bags being searched. I never felt manhandled. The warned me my wallet and keys would be re-X-rayed.

I have been to the hairdresser (oops, I mean barber) and been treated more like a piece of meat than today. Or that all-too-familiar experience (like last week at Ross Dress For Less) when the cashier was engaged in a phone conversation for the entire duration of my transaction. Or the flight attendant on yesterday’s flight who walked through the cabin distributing the “snack” (Oreo, cheese spread, cracker-wafer-thing, world’s-smallest-box-of-raisins) with an amazing lack of interpersonal energy – no eye contact, no words, just place the snacks on the trays and move along.

Anyway, while traveling, all of my clothes and toiletries were in checked baggage, so I’m sure that reduced the sense of violation of having stuff opened, touched, looked at.

Two interactions felt more like cooperation than victimization, and they were small but significant. In one part of the search of my b, the wanded the button that closes my jeans – and of course it beeped. They asked me to twist it over (a gesture that is difficult to describe but is akin to walking around with your collar up, rather than any kind of underwear-proximal violation) and he said “good enough” in response. Secondly, when my bags were finished being searched, the bag-handling guy put a lot of hole punches into the boarding pass. When the wanding guy returned with my re-x-rayed wallet and keys, he asked me if the other agent had punched my boarding pass.

I suppose those may be signals of lax security, but I’m only talking about it from my perspective, the traveler. I think I finished up before anyone who entered the regular line before I did, and I got “special” treatment that didn’t make me feel bad or weird. And I wasn’t in a rush so I wasn’t worried about that, either.

Overall, it was an incredibly powerful reframe – from being a suspect to receiving valet service. Some minor cues (with a different mindset behind them, no doubt) changed the perspective of an ordinary experience about 180 degrees.


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