Sunday, April 01, 2007

Great experiences aren't always fancy, or even spotlessly clean

This weekend we broke a water line, which needed to be repaired ASAP. Instead of going to the big orange store, we tried the Hydro-Scape store in central San Diego. It's in an industrial park and caters primarily to landscapers and contractors (B2B). But they also sell to consumers like us, and it was a great experience.

Clean, simple graphics and wayfinding let us know we'd arrived, and exactly where the entrance was. A good Invitation, Welcome, and Orientation all at once. [See my 8 steps to better customer experiences for a description of each step.] We, and most of their customers, were covered in soil, so a clean and fancy store would feel wrong and be impractical.

The no-nonsense counter provided informational material while we waited. All the brochures are coated with plastic, which makes sense for this audience. We got there at a slow time and were immediately welcomed by salesperson Corey, who asked how he could help us. [The Welcome and Communication steps.]

Our show-and-tell bag of parts provided him with the information to help us, but his willing attitude to discuss how we were going to fix the line made the difference. Instead of running the other way, as we've experienced at the big-box hardware store, Corey jumped right in with solutions. He knew every part they had, and could tell us what could be salvaged and what had to be replaced.

For busy days, they use a fair, and clear, "take a number" system. The padded stools were a nice touch, and were provided by one of their suppliers, so probably didn't cost the store anything. [Orientation and Comfort steps.]

The coffee station also provided for our comfort.

This educational flyer clearly shows the benefits of attending one of their free seminars, offered in collaboration with a lighting supplier. Good for the customer, the supplier, and Hydro-Scape. [Communication and Common Sense steps.]

Tip of the day: When you know your audience and are out to serve them, it shows. This store is serving its primary customers well, and doing a good job with us weekend handymen, too. I'll never buy irrigation supplies at the big-box store again.

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