October '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 5 O C T O B E R P R I N T W E A R || 73 WHAT IS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE? The customer experience is the interaction be- tween your organization and your customer, as seen through their eyes. It is something that cus- tomers not only see and hear, but feel. Each customer's experience begins the first time they see your advertising, visit your website or call your business. The journey continues through the sales cycle, purchasing process, and the delivery of the product. How your customers feel during each step of the way is what they will share with others. It's also a huge deciding factor in whether or not they come back for more. When I think of the ideal customer experience, I cannot help but think of Walt Disney World. Be- ing a Floridian, I have visited the resorts and parks tons of times. It is clear why Walt Disney named it The Happiest Place on Earth. What makes WDW the happiest place? It's all in their customer expe- rience. Take for instance, my experience with the com- pany this past Christmas. My family and I visit- ed one of their hotels for a weekend trip. About a week before our trip, we received our welcome package in the mail. This included our 'magic bands' which are our room keys and park passes, each personalized with our names. Then we start- ed to receive emails with tips and tricks to have the best vacation possible. The day of the trip we got a courtesy phone call to make sure everything was going well. WDW was building excitement and making sure everything was perfectly clear. When we arrived at the hotel and stepped inside, we could smell the pumped scent of gingerbread and were greeted with about a dozen smiles. When I think about this trip, I also can envision tons of other journeys I have made. Hotels with broken lobby doors or confusion about what type of room I reserved. The experience that WDW de- livers its patrons is part of the reason why they are one of the most successful vacation destinations on earth. What does all of that have to do with printing T-shirts? If we walk through the journey of most custom apparel orders, it is an uncomfortable pro- cess. There are dilemmas about shirt sizes, issues with artwork, and miscommunication about de- livery times. If you are one of the companies that focuses on creating an excellent customer experi- ence, you will not only set yourself above the rest, but also minimize issues such as these. WHERE TO START All journeys need to start with a plan. What you need to consider is the intended experience for your customers. What do you want them to think and feel as they work with your company? These things might include dealing with some of the problems in the apparel decorating world. As previously men- tioned, picking sizes for shirts can be a challenge. Depending on the manufacturer, a large can be skin-tight or loose enough to swim in. This could be something you want to solve for customers. You might also consider how they get price quotes. Do you charge per color or based on design complexity? If that is the case you will want to consider how to make this process easy to understand for your cli- entele. Put yourself in your customers' shoes and consider how you would feel going through your ordering process. For a good exercise in this, outline the process of working with your company. This means writing the step-by-step process of how your customers get pricing, place orders, pay for products, accept de- livery, and any other processes along the way. Make this outline as long as you possibly can, consider- ing every possibility. Do they submit art to you? Do they have to place a deposit to order? Can they purchase online? Consider all the possibilities and write them down. You cannot skip this step. If you do, I guarantee you will forget something along the way and leave a hole in your customer experience strategy. Once you come up with your outline, I suggest one final step before you consider it complete. Is there any interaction before or after this list? Con- sider this with great thought. Make sure to include other things like advertising, post-sale surveys, signs, voicemails, emails, and all other customer interac- tions. THE POOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Mistakes businesses make with their customer expe- rience are often due to two things: being reactive or oversights. A business becomes reactive when a problem arises and they react in a way that causes a negative impact to the customer experience. An example of this would be a client sends in artwork in the wrong format, it delays production, and the client gets up- set. A reactionary event might be to put big, bold, red letters at the bottom of all emails explaining art submission requirements. This is a quick reaction to

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