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Re: Agreed
  • 1/5/2015 10:05:12 AM
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@SaneIT. Good point about people not knowing what they want until they see examples of what they don't want. (I plead guilty to having done this). You're right mapping things out in a bit more detail early in the process would help. If you are handy with a pencil, even sketching out the roughest visual examples would seem to help.

Re: Agreed
  • 1/5/2015 7:28:45 AM
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@Jamescon, I've run into this many times over the years.  What typically happens is that you call everyone together to get an idea of what a project should entail.  Most of the people in the room defer to you (me) because you're the expert and they really don't know how to express what it is they think they want.  Then as you start delivering pieces of the project they become aware that there is something they don't like.  Six months to a year ago they couldn't tell you what they want but they do know how to look at something and tell you it's not what they want.  The trick is identifying the people who will do this to you and getting them involved at a deeper level sooner.  Things as simple as mapping out your plan in a little more detail can get them thinking and you can use their dislike to figure out what they really want.

Re: Investments vs. activity
  • 1/4/2015 10:25:20 AM
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@Broadway. Thanks for sharing the info about Starbucks. Sounds like that's a sign of things to come. Not every business has their level of automation and monitoring -- and not all will need it -- but I suspect this type of flexible approach is something we will see more of.

Re: Investments vs. activity
  • 1/3/2015 11:09:49 PM
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Jamescon, companies can take a lesson from Starbucks. During the holidays, I walked into an empty (usually busy) store and ended up in a conversation with the cashier about company policy. Essentially, Starbucks monitors store action every 15-30 minutes and adjusts staffing accordingly.

Re: Investments vs. activity
  • 1/2/2015 9:23:52 AM
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@magneticnorth. It's funny that we need engineers to study things like the behavior and body language of customers waiting in line for checkout at a department store or supermarket. The irony is that those stores typically have a manager monitoring the flow at checkout, adding cashiers as needed, scheduling breaks, etc. It doesn't take a lot of training to identify which customers are frustrated, when lines move efficiently, etc.

An engineer's view would help and they bring some good experience, but those companies already are collecting tons of data about the customer experience. They just aren't looking for ways to tap it.

Re: Agreed
  • 1/2/2015 9:14:36 AM
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@SaneIT. You've hit on something that frequently is overlooked in customer research and, I think, corporate leadership in general. Consider some of the surveys that you have been asked to take over the years. I'll bet that the vast majority of those surveys asked what you like, what you like better of two choices, etc. Those researchers seem reluctant to ask what people don't want and what they don't like (plus the big question of why). I suspect that too many corporate decisions are made by asking line managers what it is that customers want/like, stopping short of asking what turns customers off (the exception perhaps being to ask what turns off customers when it comes to competitors). 

I spoke with American Express a few months back regarding their customer communication strategy (email, mail, etc.) and they are putting in a lot of work with analytics to determine not just what customers like/don't like as a group but what individual customers like/don't like. That personal touch is enabled by analytics.

Re: Investments vs. activity
  • 1/1/2015 12:03:53 AM
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@Broadway I don't know and I don't think they'd share that information, but it's obvious to me that someone's actively engineering their operations. A lot of industrial engineers here are capable of doing this, though not many companies would give them a chance.

Re: Investments vs. activity
  • 12/31/2014 10:31:20 PM
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magneticnorth, it would be interesting to find out what drove that renovation. Did they analyze camera footage of how their employees behaved, or how shoppers behaved in check-out line? Did they compare sales with one store with this similar layout?

Re: Investments vs. activity
  • 12/31/2014 10:26:33 PM
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When I hear the word "efficiency," I think of those early industrial age tycoons who used to rationalize labor in their factories, so that one employee was inserting the same widget into their product, over and over and over. Think of Laverne and Shirley at the bottling plant. Will data make office workers such automatons?

Re: Investments vs. activity
  • 12/31/2014 8:21:20 PM
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@Broadway it was certainly no accident. It involved repositioning  the cashier counters, which are stuck to the ground. They renovated recently and this was one of the improvements made.

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