Sunday, May 21, 2006

Self-serve dog wash creates customer loyalty

South Bark Dog Wash, San Diego, CA: Owners Lisa Vella and Donna Walker have created a seamless self-serve experience that creates customer loyalty. They don’t view a visit as a one-shot deal. Instead, they’ve designed their business to cater to people for the life of their pet.

Just a couple of blocks from an off-leash park

Everything about the experience is comfortable. Tubs are at the right height to wash without stooping over. The water is warm, and the aprons keep you (reasonably) dry. Friendly staffers can answer many questions about skin problems and recommend an array of products to try.

It’s comfortable for the dogs, too, starting with their signature blueberry facial. The no-tears product sold only at South Bark is aromatherapeutic, relaxing the dog to make it an enjoyable experience. No-slip pads reduce fatigue while sturdy suction cups and plastic leads keep Fido comfortable and in the tub.

Buddy Girl getting her massage

From loyalty to lifestyle:
South Bark wants to serve customers for the life of their dog. Rather than a one-time $10 bath, they strive to provide enough services (obedience classes, food, treats, toys, dental cleaning, holiday photos) to keep customers coming back every month. They provide a comfortable, educational, and fun atmosphere, with lots of music and laughter. Their loyalty cards (Buy 6 washes, Get 1 free) help customers incorporate South Bark into their lifestyle through repeat visits.

Tip of the day: Build customer loyalty by creating a space where the customer is the star. Offer enough service and product variety to meet customer needs, as long as every element builds on your experience.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gettin' fishey wid' it

Rockfish Restaurant, Chandler, AZ: What made this chain restaurant stand out to me? It was friendly and fun and the food was good, but wait, there's more.

I know I'm at a mall in Phoenix...

But inside it looks like a fly-fishing lodge. Turns out they buy actual fly-fishing gear for the decor. My brother-in-law liked the comfy resting porch when waiting for a table, instead of being "shoved into the bar." I noticed the wording on the menu about special orders, which was very welcoming. (And when I made a special order, I got nothing but smiles and helpful hints, instead of eye-rolling and big sighs.) But what stood out is the Rockfish sense of humor, which flows directly downstream from owner Randy DeWitt. Waitstaff t-shirts have funny sayings on the back like, "Fish Happens." The women's room sign reads "Inboards."

Looking for the bathroom?

My friend liked the family-friendly feel, and the way the bar wasn't the focal point. While Rockfish looks like many seafood places you might find in a mall, they've created an authentic experience that's both fun and memorable.

Customer's memories become part of the story

They've also done a brilliant job of incorporating customers' own memorabilia (fishing photos) into the decor, which creates more authenticity and a solid connection to place, as customers have "our booth."

Tip of the day: Be true to yourself. This business has created a strong authentic voice, based on the owner's own sense of humor, that is carried throughout every aspect of the business. The decor isn't bought as a package from an interior design company, but is personally selected from real fishing supply stores.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Get a jungle root-canal in Phoenix

Jungle Roots Children's Dentistry, Chandler, AZ: Dr. John Culp takes experience-based business into healthcare. From the outside, this business looks like any other strip mall. Once inside, the upscale the waiting room is classy and pretty but still doesn't prepare you for what's in store. Their phone number is 480-759-1119 if you are looking to make an appointment.

Nice waiting room with cold water in fridge

Just beyond reception, you enter the jungle, with "rocks" to sit on under a huge tree, video games to play, rock walls carved with friendly-faced glyphs, lots of jungle stuffed animals, and murals on the walls. Beyond nice decor, they've created an entire themed experience from start to finish. They put themselves in their patients' (small) shoes and decided that going off alone into a tiny room for dentistry might be scary. So the treatment area is one big space.

Treatment area with video games & DVDs

Kids can see that other kids are getting treated and doing fine, while the fun atmosphere makes going to the dentist memorable.

Individual treatment room

When they finish their treatment, kids get a token that wins them a prize. Interior design by Larson Construction in Tucson, Arizona, who fabricate zoo and theme park exhibits. Their theming extends all the way through the business: staff attire (camo scrubs), the bathroom, and the artwork on the walls.

Tip of the day: Theming without heart can't create a great experience on its own. Dr. Culp is great with kids and is highly respected in Phoenix, and their staff members are all professional and give great customer service. Having this great hook sets them apart, creates wonderful word-of-mouth advertising, and generates lots of local press.

My thanks to the staff at Jungle Roots for the tour.

Meet Stephanie Weaver

Hi and thanks for visiting my blog! I'm a customer experience consultant located in San Diego, California. I'm interested in the experiences you've had in museums, doctor's offices, stores, restaurants... you name it. I hope you'll post your comments on which experiences you've enjoyed, what you liked about them, and what could be improved. This is meant to help business owners and managers create better experiences. Please include pictures and constructive criticism, comments, or suggestions. No ranting allowed!

  • Welcome to Experienceology!

    Experienceology is a term I coined. It's the process of creating great customer experiences from start to finish, using art, design, science, creativity, and common sense. I hope you'll join the discussion by sharing great experiences you've had, as well as experiences that could be improved.