Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Infusing a visitor experience with tone and voice

What I love about this customer experience example is sharing the specifics of the "voice" of this business. Rockfish restaurants are found throughout the American Southwest.

What stands 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." (And the men's, "Outboards.") While this tone and style might not be appropriate for a museum, it's a wonderful example of how having such a strong voice and point of view can define an entity.

Need the bathroom?

Another genius move is the way they've incorporated people's own fishing photos into the experience. This creates the feeling of "my booth" which is something museums don't generally offer. How can you create this feeling of ownership at your museum?

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. Creating or leveraging your museum's unique point of view, and defining your voice, is the first step towards creating a memorable, destination experience that people will want to repeat.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What museums can learn from a self-serve dog wash

I first reported on South Bark Dog Wash in May 2006. This is another business I feature in my Experienceology workshop. What can museums learn from a place like this?

One thing that's changed in four years is the neighborhood. As new small businesses moved in to South Park, they were welcomed into the business association (Vella and Walker were founding members). They host a quarterly event, called the South Park Walkabout, that has created a feeling that South Park is a destination. Are you, as a museum, actively working within your immediate community to create this kind of atmosphere? Are you partnering with everyone possible to make that happen? I even know a couple who went to the Walkabout and then bought a house in the neighborhood as a result. Does your museum have that kind of impact?

Owners Lisa Vella and Donna Walker have focused on customer loyalty from the beginning. 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. Is your museum thinking this specifically about what you can offer to repeat visitors?

South Bark is strategically located just two blocks from a busy off-leash park. How well do you know your neighborhood? How well does your museum relate to its immediate surroundings?

This entire experience is designed for the customer's comfort (both the owners and the pets). I've written a LOT about visitor comfort over the years, and yet I still visit museums with too little seating and hard to read labels.

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, which has become a best-selling product and is now available online. This product was designed as a result of watching clients avoid their dogs faces, which are often the dirtiest part of the dog. The staff members start the bath with the facial, and then you do the rest. How often do you watch your visitors to see what they need, and then create something to fill it?

Something I talk about a lot I call "From loyalty to lifestyle." Starbucks figured this one out years ago... you want to be part of your customer's lifestyle... a regular part of their day or week. How can your museum fill ongoing needs for your visitors?

South Bark wants to serve customers for the life of their dog. Rather than a one-time $12 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.

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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday's signpost


Loved how Whole Foods has really committed to local produce... this sign lists all the farms they support and the mileage to the store. It's this kind of detailed, transparent information that increases customer trust. Are there ways that you could communicate in a similar manner with your museum visitors?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Favorite visitor experience posts, revisited

It's the summer, and I've been writing this blog for more than four years. Amazing! I've decided to present some of my favorite previous posts, with new commentary. First up:

Jungle Roots Children's Dentistry in Chandler, AZ. This is one of the examples I show in my full-day Experienceology workshop, and people are still amazed by it. From the outside, this business looks like any other strip mall facade. Once inside, the upscale the waiting room is classy and pretty but still doesn't prepare you for what's in store.

Not only is everything themed, but they have really thought through what their audience needs. I always encourage my museum clients to do this as well. As it's always blazing hot in Phoenix, the free cold water in the fridge is a very specific way to welcome clients.

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, jungle-appropriate 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, with video games and DVDs for the kids to play with while they're waiting. If you have an area where visitors wait, are there ways to make it this appealing?

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

Dr. John Culp hired Larson Construction in Tucson, Arizona, to do the interior. Larson is famous for their who 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. It's a wonderful example of how the Experience Economy has raised the bar for all types of facilities that serve the public, including museums, parks, gardens, and libraries.

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

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday's signpost


Thanks to reader Susan C. for sending me this photo from Bryce Canyon. Awesome example of a friendly, fun tone on a rules sign.