Abandoned Shopping Carts Litter the Landscape in Anytown USA

Here are a few photos of abandoned shopping carts seen around town.  This urban blight was in the Seattle area but this could be Anytown, USA or beyond. Kroger, QFC, Safeway, Bartells – no one store is immune and the problem is worsening. Bus stops, apartment homes, retirement homes, sidewalks, bike trails, parking lots, and dumpster areas seem to be the favorite dropping off stations.

See the related post: When Metric Fail: It is Time to Change the Conversation

about the author

Gregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans. Greg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true.

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.  Gregory also serves as a volunteer board member for Oikocredit Northwest, a support association for social and impact investor, Oikocredit International.

 

 

 

 

When Metrics Fail it is Time to Change the Conversation: a Walk in the Park with an Abandoned Shopping Cart

abandoned shopping cart found on sidewalk in the evening - Delightability researchLurking beneath the metrics you’ll find the truth. This truth may have slowly crept up on you and suddenly poked you in the eye as a new reality. But, you say, “We have these metrics and this is the way we measure, and see, and do things around here.” Exactly right, but exactly wrong too.

Here is an easy target to pick on. Abandoned shopping carts litter the landscape most everywhere. City Councils have metrics and want to hold stores accountable for their wayward carts. Stores have metrics and are stuck between cracking down on their patrons and giving them freedom to take carts as needed. Biases are at play too. What looks like a theft problem to the store’s Loss Prevention Manager is a transportation problem to the “bus stop mom” or “urban retirement dweller.” Once you get past the bias that this is a purely homeless problem, you’ll see that kids, and moms, and grandpas all play a part in this problem. Even police are being called upon by municipalities to “do something about this menace.” One police department recently posted on their Facebook page a reminder to the public, that it is a crime to take a shopping cart off of store premises. Each of the stakeholders, save the shopper themselves, have metrics, but who is right here?

The world has shifted – shopping carts have gotten smaller and more maneuverable, the price of gas has continued to rise, and some have opted out of owning personal transportation in favor of walking or using public transportation. But, amid these changes, stores are probably blind to the transportation realities their customers face.

While stores have found more and more ways to understand our shopping preferences and probably have metrics related to the foods we buy and the prices we’re willing to pay, they really have little understanding of why we choose their store, how we got there, and if a grocery cart will be on our list of items to take home today.

So, there you have it, amid all of those metrics the human behind the customer has been forgotten and that is exactly wrong. Imagine if the metrics for a given store revolved less around how much orange juice we purchased and at what price and instead examined who the shopper is and what transportation they used to get to and from the store. That might just spawn some new services and brand loyalty to the stores with courage enough to change the conversation.

“Don’t get so set on your goal that you lose your humanity.”
Cicero, Roman author,orator, & politician (106 BC – 43 BC)

If you are a grocery store leader, city council member, or other stakeholder to the problem and would like to talk, please contact us. We’d love to share with you the findings of a public workshop we hosted where we brought people together from all walks of life to discuss, dive into, and propose a range of possible solutions to the abandoned shopping cart problem.

Here are a few photos of abandoned shopping carts seen around town.  This could be Anytown, USA or beyond.

View the workshop photo album and visit the Big Idea Toolkit to learn more about the large format visual planning system that we used to guide our workshop discussion.

about the author

Gregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans.

Greg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true. The models in the Experience Design BLUEPRINT are equally relevant to organizations of all types and sizes including start-up entrepreneurs, nonprofits, for-profits, and government.

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.  Gregory also serves as a volunteer board member for Oikocredit Northwest, a support association for social and impact investor, Oikocredit International.

Why Think Positive is so Last Year

positive psychology role in the Big Idea ToolkitIt turns out that the world has been swimming in positive psychology for a couple of decades. Amid that, we have many things to cite in the world that aren’t so swimmingly positive. And how many of us have fallen prey to the motivating seminar or sales pitch, only to fail later when we return to our old habits and practices. Being positive, having unabated enthusiasm, and putting blinders up to all things negative, doesn’t create the warm, fuzzy, prosperous future we once thought it would.

In the December issue of Psychology Today, Annie Murphy Paul, explores the uses and abuses of optimism (and pessimism). Like the author of the article suggests, as in many things, context matters. It turns out that there is a time to be optimistic and a time to be pessimistic. Sometimes it is helpful to think of things that might go wrong.

positive psychology in the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.We find this especially interesting given our work with teams using the Big Idea Toolkit. It turns out people adopt two distinct psychological zones or mindsets, when using Continue reading “Why Think Positive is so Last Year”

Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged

slice of delight o meter infographic for delighting customers
See Infographic for Full Story

According to the Deloitte Center for the Edge study in 2009, only 1 in 5 employees are passionate about their jobs.

Imagine the untapped potential that exists in the remaining 4/5 of your employee population. What if you could harness their potential and put it to good use, creating value for your customers and for your organization.

I’ll bet you could improve communications, innovative your Continue reading “Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged”

Delight-O-Meter: An Innovation in Measuring Customer Delight

Delight O Meter reveal from DelightabilitySo how do you know if you are delighting customers? Is there something more effective than the revenue yardstick or monitoring what people say on social networking? Customer satisfaction surveys don’t seem to work; people say they are satisfied and then leave anyway.

It turns out that most organizations don’t know if they are delighting customers. For those that do, they still lack a systematic framework to manage delight. Customer delight is not customer satisfaction plus Continue reading “Delight-O-Meter: An Innovation in Measuring Customer Delight”

Want a better Bottom Line, Deliver a better Customer Experience

Hindsight is 20/20.

fire fighting- crisis management -organizational readiness- Delightability

How many of us kick ourselves for not purchasing a boatload of Apple stock a few years back? We tend to put off taking actions, not because we don’t see the upside potential, but because we’re busy fighting fires. Here is a tip you can bank on. Happy customers are your only source of long-term revenue for your organization. Our recent economic downturn has compounded the problem; organizations responded by cutting budgets and by diverting attention inward. You may be kicking yourself down the road when Continue reading “Want a better Bottom Line, Deliver a better Customer Experience”

7 Steps to Make the Customer Come Alive Inside Your Organization

Customers are the lifeblood of your organization. Delighting them is your surest path to sustainable success. When you make the customer come alive inside your organization you leverage employees natural empathy, focus employees on what customers value and provide them with a shared purpose. This renewed understanding and engagement may unlock the answers to some of your most vexing problems and give you insights into profitable growth opportunities.

7 Steps to Make the Customer Come Alive Inside Your Organization

  1. create a dedicated space to demonstrate customer thinking – a wall works.
  2. place photos of typical customers – could be other stakeholders depending on your business and focus, e.g. investors, prospects, employees, partners, patients, members, guests, visitors, volunteers, voters, citizens, students, clients, etc.
  3. ask and answer questions –
    1. how did they become aware of us?
    2. what are their communications habits?
    3. why did they buy from us?
    4. what are their needs and are they changing?
  4. enroll others in an ongoing dialogue around customers – encourage colleagues to place sticky notes or write on the wall
  5. continue to gain new insights and generate new questions
  6. as you have customer interactions share your learning at the wall
  7. prioritize and take action on insights – you can’t do it all so focus on the projects and programs that will have the most impact and look for quick wins.

Other Projects that can help you improve your Customer Thinking and eliminate blind spots include:  net promoter score (NPS) & loyalty strategy; customer evidence (case studies, testimonials, references); customer observation, behavior, and needs analysis; segmentation and ecosystem mapping; customer storybook and voice of the customer; win/loss/stall analysis; empathy lab; and customer profitability & retention analysis.

Are Communications Helping Your Relationships?

 

universe of people - Delightability

Timely and relevant communications is essential for businesses to reach their target audience.  Anything less is noise that will largely go unnoticed or worse irritate the intended audience. Sadly, many organizations fall into the trap of poorly segmenting communications. Sales and even some marketing personnel fail to differentiate between suspects, prospects, and customers. When this happens, loyal customers are often overlooked. Think how a loyal customer feels about your brand when prospects receive better offers than they do. This results in customer churn, diminished sales, and poor loyalty.

To solve this problem companies should segment customer communications into 3 stages.

  1. The first stage is Exposure. Here you expose suspects to your products and services and turn them into a prospect.
  2. Next is the Adoption stage. Getting your prospect through the sales process and consuming your product or service is the goal.
  3. The last stage is Retention. This last one is most often overlooked as sales driven personnel and processes are “on to the next” big sale or initiative.

3 funnels - suspects - prospects - customers - advocates - Delightability

 

Bain and Company research established that it is 10x more costly to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. So naturally, you wish to retain customers and turn them into advocates.

Benefit of creating advocates include:

  • pay more, especially for premium treatment
  • buy more and often without ongoing sales efforts
  • provide useful input on products and services
  • insulate you from the effectiveness of competitor’s price promotions
  • reduce the cost of your exposure funnel related marketing activities

Properly enabled, advocates also influence like minded individuals and expose them to your brand. Because of this, it is important to continue to build the relationship. This is especially relevant in an era where buyers turn to social networks and online information sources for opinions and counsel before completing a purchase decision.

Here is how to improve customer communications

  1. Conduct a communications audit and establish your baseline
  2. Ensure everyone is clear on the definition of customer terms i.e. suspect, prospect, customer, and client
  3. Actively segment communications based on the 3 stages of relationship
  4. Watch response rates and loyalty improve