A couple of weeks ago, I headed to Europe for a little R & R, and of course some good old-fashioned consumerism. If you follow my blog you know that I am an avid and anything but average consumer…
While I enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies a good purchase or a GREAT find, I am more into the customer experience that plays out with each and every purchase. From a cup of coffee, to a luxury purchase, I cannot help but examine the customer experience with a proverbial microscope – in the moment, in retrospect – ALL of it.
And during my travels overseas, I could not help but notice it. The customer experience is different, from country to country it’s different. Like crazy different.
Different doesn’t have to mean bad, right?
Well, one of those different moments was while perusing glass art pieces in a gallery in Prague. The art was beautiful, I mean unique, I was looking and I was interested in buying. Now, I’ve dealt with my fair share of abrasive sales associates in the U.S., we all have. But to say the woman working in this store was unfriendly, is an understatement.
Every step I took, she was behind me, wagging her finger at me, yelling, telling me not to touch anything. Every. Single. Step. She shadowed me, hovering like I was a child and was going to break something. Instead of enjoying the art and considering a purchase I was on pins and needles and being scolded. I exited the store without purchasing anything. In fact, I found most of my customer experiences in Prague lacking. I started thinking about this specific store keeper’s demeanor and how it translated into local culture. Was it simply a cultural norm I wasn’t familiar with? Were locals put off or was it just normal to them?
Consistent Customer Experience is Important
The questions were swirling through my head and then I started to think about international brands. Marketers work hard to drill home the importance of brand and customer experience consistency across stores. From Starbucks to Chanel to Foot Locker there are executives working tirelessly to help each store manager and individual contributor understand how to execute the customer experience specific to their brand and company as a whole. And this got me thinking.
- What does this mean for these international brands and consumers who shop them?
- How do you promote a seamless customer experience among different countries and cultures? Is it even possible?
- Is there such thing as a truly global customer experience?
- How do we cater to expectations of different cultures while remaining true to the brand?
- What do consumers want and expect in different countries?
- Can we please everyone?
It’s amazing to me how I can go to High Street in Bordeaux and aesthetically it looks like London and also a lot like Michigan Avenue, chock full of international brands. But what does the customer experience look like when you set foot into the respective stores?
And if we’re trying to create consistency in consumerism, what do we expect the customer experience to be? Are we losing something from each culture by trying to make the experience consistent? Are we disappointing consumers when the experience is dramatically different?
I don’t have answers to the questions, but I’m so curious about what the brands think about global consumerism and the customer experience.
McDonalds? Starbucks? KFC? Zara? H&M? Chanel? Burberry? Louis Vuitton? Let’s talk!!
Chime in and let me know!!!