by Mike Wittenstein, Customer Experience Designer and Speaker at Mike Wittenstein
To kick of the new year at our January meeting, Customer Experience Designer Mike Wittenstein revealed some of the secrets the world’s best brands use in crafting their customer experiences. If you missed it, you can see the full presentation or a four-minute highlights video.
Mike believes that companies should be best at what their customers want most. And that customer experience is one of the best ways to differentiate a business. Getting customers and shareholders to rave is what Mike does best.
In this month’s newsletter, Mike tackles how technology can improve the shopping experience. “Direct Marketing should be considered as a part of every single app on the web,” according to Wittenstein. He’ll review Home Depot’s latest iPhone app and show you what makes itit tick, what makes users click, and what makes the cash register ring.
The Home Depot app not only makes shopping easy, it makes customers better shoppers with its built-in tools that help avoid those annoying extra trips to the store.
The Home Depot app is one of the only apps that actually makes shoppers better. It has free tools for measuring, estimating materials, and even knowing exactly the right nut and bolt size for projects. It’s an app that truly enhances the customer experience!
The opening screens are simple and easy-to-read. Click on the double right arrow (it’s not easy if you have a big finger) to extend the lower menu options. (Most of these are self-explanatory and won’t be reviewed here.)
The killer app in Home Depot’s app is under the first menu choice “Find Nut and Bolt Size Quickly”. Just put any size nut on the screen (carefully, without scratching), then use the slider bar to adjust the on-screen image to match the size of the real nut lying on top of it. There’s a handy “Save Results” button in case you’re specifying several sizes.
There’s a thread measurement tool as well. It works in the same way. Lay the bolt on top of the screen, then use the slider bar to adjust the zig-zag line to match the thread pattern of the real bolt lying on the screen.
These two features are cool for people who love tools. Not only do they enhance the customer experience, they save business and customer costs at the same time. Nuts and bolts are one of the slowest moving, lowest margin items in a typical Home Depot store. They take up an entire aisle and require a full-time person. That’s pretty expensive when the average ticket for consumers is probably just a few dollars. Using this app, customers can feel confident they will get the right pieces and right dimensions without having to make multiple trips to the store due to trial-and-error.
The second button on the home screen “Step Up With a New Walk-Behind Mower” is seasonal. This section relies on simple yet info-packed product descriptions to help customers explore options and get clearer on their needs. The most valuable feature is the opportunity to see the product in action through a video.
Under the Shop tab, the category and product listings are long. Too long. But when you consider that this taxonomy has been vetted over tens of millions of transactions, it makes sense. There’s really no other way to do it without employing advanced contextual algorithms like Autonomy’s.
It takes patience and a strong general knowledge of construction to get down to a product level description if you don’t just type in your search. For example, it took nine (9) taps on the screen to get to a special kind of clamp. (Granted, this is a worse case scenario based on picking categories with the most remaining items.)
The Toolbox tab includes free utilities (usually $0.99 to $4.99 each on Apple’s app store) for measuring and specifying components (like nuts and bolts) and materials (like paint, wallpaper, etc.)
A handy converter tools translates English measures to metric for area, length, mass, temperature, and volume.
There’s even a built-in tape measure. Well, you have to measure one thing first—your foot. Tapping on the screen once for each step helps you estimate short distances.
The shopping features are well thought out and make shopping for construction projects with many parts easy.
- The toolkit is awesome, truly best-in-class.
- The interface strikes a good balance between quantity of information and the ease of finding it.
- Shopping functionality is tightly integrated.
- Video help is a great value add.
- Live chat help and Twitter help are built in.
What’s Not So Good
- It takes too many steps to drill down for certain items.
- Some of the videos could do more showing, not just telling.
What I Would Do
- Offer a Spanish language option.
- Tie pro accounts to past purchases to speed the finding process.
- Allow customers to specify the project they are working on (as an option) up front. Search ahead algorithms could speed searching, remind shoppers of go-with items to save them time (e.g. nuts and bolts), and recommend related items.
- Add a share-a-picture-with-an-expert capability to make it easier for pros in the field (or consumers at home) to get on-screen help to diagnose a problem or get the right part. This feature might make the call center more helpful—and more profitable.
- Offer an app overview (like Hyundai does for its flagship Equus vehicle) to encourage more usage.
About the Company
The Home Depot, http://www.HomeDepot.com headquartered in Atlanta, GA, operates approximately 2,244 home improvement retail stores in four countries. It trades on the NYSE under the symbol HD.
About Mike Wittenstein
Mike helps business leaders around the world differentiate their brands by dramatically improving their customer experiences. As a customer experience designer, Mike shops each business as a consumer and works in it as an employees. Then, he designs the kind of experiences customers notice, remember, and rave about. With two decades of experience and hundreds of assignments under his belt, Mike knows how to design experiences that win customers’ hearts on the front lines—and earn shareholder approval on the bottom line. Based in Atlanta, Mike works globally.