Arriving at the tent marked “tickets,” I saw there were three kinds of tickets available, each in a different color, orange, blue and yellow (I only have the yellow ones left), and were generic in appearance.
Perhaps the organizers could’ve had a few poster board signs with blown-up pictures of color-coded tickets stationed around the event, explaining what each ticket was for, and how much they were. Or maybe there could’ve been an explanation on the event Web site, as well.
Now, I understand that this is an event designed to raise money for charity, rather than a commercial venture. But having to go back in line again with just one impatient child was a challenge—I can’t imagine the hassle for those attending in larger groups, in terms of figuring out how many tickets they would need to purchase to keep everyone happy.
Nonetheless, both my daughter and I both had a great time, despite the fact that we had to leave before the wing-eating contest (five-year-olds have the attention spans of, well, five-year-olds.) But this small snafu got me thinking of a common miscalculation that companies make every day, which turns customers off.
Assuming that the customer is familiar with your product, service or event
Businesses can’t assume that potential customers will be familiar with the way their product works, no matter how popular it may have become. If you purchase an Apple tablet or smartphone, the instructions that come with it are worthless, particularly if you’ve never used the iOS platform before. Wait, I have to just know that the switch on the side of the iPad is a lock, not a true on-off switch?
Furthermore, if you venture into an Apple store, you tend to get looks of disdain if you don’t fit the mold of what Apple believes to be its core customer. My 80-year-old father-in-law popped into an Apple store for some assistance, and they sent him off even more confused than he had been. Never mind that he could’ve been in there to purchase eight iPads for his grandchildren.
Structuring your customer experience to meet your needs, not your customers
Apple is hardly alone. There’s a great ad campaign from TD Bank that highlights that fact that banks generally operate in a way that is most convenient for them, rather than their customers. While many large banks are reconfiguring their branches to be more customer-centric, it’s surprising that more banks do not feature extended hours. After all, you can get a hamburger or taco up until midnight, pretty much anywhere…
Not providing clear instructions to customers
Consumers are most comfortable spending money when they understand what the deal is, and how the process works. There may have been a sign at Karmacue detailing how everything worked. If so, I missed it, which basically renders it useless.
Some businesses have done a great job of this. Potbelly Sandwich Shop, a chain of more than 280 stores around the country, clearly posts signs in their stores that can be read from the back of the line that details how to order. In this case, it makes things clear to the customer, while streamlining the order-fulfillment process for the workers. Here’s an example of the information contained on these signs, though in the store, they are larger and each step is posted adjacent to the relevant choices used to create a sandwich (breads are listed next to step one, additional options listed next to step two, etc.)
Other restaurants, such as the venerable Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly, has done this for years, though with a tad more attitude.
Online stores spend a significant amount of time, effort, and money trying to get the customer or “user experience” correct. I haven’t asked Potbelly or Pat’s King of Steaks whether they saw any financial benefit from highlighting their ordering process, but I’ll bet that other businesses – both food and non-food -- could learn a few things from their examples of making their processes easy for even first-time customers to understand.