The Apple Approach to the Customer Experience

Not that Apple.

While we have and will continue to learn a great deal about the customer experience from Apple the company, I’m talking about the actual fruit.

I recently read a story in the Washington Post that explained in great detail how a small, but clever, tweak to how apples are sold has increased consumption of the fruit.

In essence, a group of researches had a “hunch” that the apples being served to kids as part of the National School Lunch Program were being thrown away – virtually untouched – because they were being served whole, rather than sliced.

These researchers from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab were right.

A pilot study conducted at eight schools found that fruit consumption jumped by more than 60 percent when apples were served sliced. And a follow-up study, conducted at six other schools, not only confirmed the finding, but further strengthened it: Both overall apple consumption and the percentage of students who ate more than half of the apple that was served to them were more than 70 percent higher at schools that served sliced apples.

“It sounds simplistic, but even the simplest forms of inconvenience affect consumption,” said David Just, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell who studies consumer food choices, and one of the study’s author.

Source Article

I’ll repeat that… ‘even the simplest forms of inconvenience affect consumption.’

The same holds true for consumers of live entertainment – even a small inconvenience will impact the customer experience and, in all likelihood, revenue.

That’s why it’s so critical for you to take a step back and study your organization from the customer’s perspective.  Look specifically for ‘inconveniences’ that can be transitioned into opportunities.  Here are a few examples:

→ Accept credit cards for everything you sell (and throw away all those “cash only” signs).
Partner with Uber so that your customers can have that second beer or glass of wine (guilt free) and get a safe ride home.
Add more staff or move some to your busiest gates to reduce lines for people entering your venue.
Offer pre-paid parking so customers can present a voucher and drive right in.
Reduce the transaction process to buy tickets by one or two clicks.
Include a hand wipe with the sale of  messy concessions like nachos and cotton candy (parents will love you!).

There are many ways you can work to identify your customers’ inconveniences. Take an afternoon to brainstorm with your colleagues. Set up a survey, questionnaire or focus group to learn directly from your customers.  Also consider becoming an undercover customer so that you can experience the journey firsthand – buy tickets on your own credit card, arrive with other eventgoers and see how your experience unfolds.

The ‘Undercover Customer’ Challenge

Going ‘undercover’ to experience your business from a different perspective isn’t new.

If you don’t watch Undercover Boss – a TV show in which “high-level corporate execs leave the comfort of their offices and secretly take low-level jobs within their companies to find out how things really work and what their employees truly think of them” – I suspect you’ve at least heard of it and understand the concept.

The journey of the C-level executive on Undercover Boss provides valuable insight into behind-the-scenes jobs that are super critical to running a successful business. The goal of the undercover mission is to understand the employee experience and then make the necessary changes to improve it when and where possible.

I’d like to flip the script and challenge live events organizations to send their staff members, from C-level execs to those on the front lines, undercover to experience, well, the customer experience.

The New York Times ran a similar experiment by blocking access to their home page on desktops in their Manhattan headquarters. The memo to employees, which was Tweeted by the company’s Deputy Managing Editor Clifford Levy, said more than half of the The Times is on mobile and that the temporary change would spur them to make mobile an even more central part of everything they do.



We challenge you to experience the entire lifecycle of the your customer using these steps:

  • Search for an event on your website.
  • Buy the tickets. Yes, with a real credit card.
  • Select the delivery method most commonly used by your customers.
  • Drive to the event from your home at the same time as the rest of your event-goers. Or take mass transit if that is the more typical experience.
  • If you do drive, leave your staff credentials at home. Park in a lot with your customers. And pay for the parking.
  • Line up and have your tickets scanned at the door.
  • Enter the venue.
  • Find your seats.
  • Buy a drink. And a snack. And merchandise. Consider doing so at different times so you can experience the line during intermission or half-time.
  • Enjoy the event.
  • Leave the event when everyone else does.
  • Engage with any follow-up marketing such as post-event emails and surveys.

Take notes as you go and solicit input from your guest. How was your customer experience? What can be improved? How was the customer service? How much did you spend? Did you feel valued as a customer?

This type of undercover mission is a great first step towards creating a customer-centric culture within your organization. Encourage everyone in your organization to go undercover once a year.  Form a small committee to review the results and create action items that will improve the customer experience.

If everyone in your organization is focused on the customer experience, you will get even better.

Are you willing to accept my challenge? If so, I would love to hear about your experience and invite you to be a guest blogger to share it with our audience.


Micro-Moments: From Skeptic to Believer

It took just a couple of days to transform me from a micro-moments skeptic into a believer. Here’s how it happened…

Scrolling through my Twitter timeline, I saw – then clicked on – a promoted Tweet from Google AdWords (@adwords).  It read: “Micro-Moments: The New Battleground for Brands.”

I spent the next 30 minutes educating myself, but was admittedly skeptical. How dare Google – a massive digital brand – create a new self-serving business buzzword?

Fast forward a couple of days.  I was shopping for new basketball sneakers after joining a men’s league and opted to shop at a trusted brand – a larger US retailer called Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Visiting a bricks and mortar business in itself is a huge step for me. But it was a necessity because I needed to try the sneakers on before buying them.

Here’s how my customer journey unfolded:

  • Browsed the shoe department and zeroed in on a pair of basketball sneakers (no judging!).
  • Micro-moment #1: Sent a text to my brother – a basketball trainer – to ask his opinion about the brand.
  • Tried on the sneakers to see if they fit.
  • Micro-moment #2: Opened my Amazon app to check pricing (they were $30 less in store!).
  • Micro-moment #3: Read several Amazon consumer reviews.
  • Micro-moment #4: Googled the shoe to read a handful of other reviews.
  • Micro-moment #5: Googled the shoe a second time to see if any online retailers offered a better price.

Satisfied that I was getting the best price and had made a good choice, I was set to make my purchase. But before heading to the register, I did one more Google search: Dick’s Sporting Goods in-store coupons (micro-moment #6). The result was a $20 off coupon for purchases of $100 or more.


At that point, I only had $69.99 worth of merchandise in my hand. I could now get an additional $30 worth of items for only $10 more. A couple pairs of socks and a Father’s Day gift for my father-in-law later, and I was standing at the register with $107 worth of merchandise.

My customer journey – based on Google’s research – has become the norm. A highly desirable 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence an in-store purchase decision.

“Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect of brands. It’s fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”

Think with Google@ThinkwithGoogle

The New Battleground for Brands

Micro-moments must be addressed in live entertainment. Otherwise, you risk losing the battle for the almighty dollar entirely or missing out on the opportunity to earn more money per order.

Take action by learning as much as you can about micro-moments, then map their role in your customers’ journey.

Here are five tips to help your organization win with micro-moments:

1. Identify your organization’s micro-moments. Talk to your audience! They are unique to your brand, so ask them when and how they research and make purchase decisions. Approach them in person at events, through questionnaires, surveys and focus groups. The most useful information will come directly from YOUR customers.

2. Deliver the right message. It’s not enough to participate in the micro-moment. Add value by providing relevant content that answers questions or seals the deal to purchase. Having a thorough understanding of terms being searched and the questions being asked will give you the edge.

3. Right place, right time. Your customers consume content on different devices while researching a purchase. Take a holistic, cross-channel approach that includes highly relevant landing pages, SEO, videos, blog posts and more. This will help transition your audience seamlessly from exploration to transaction.

4. Make the sale. Every time. The crucial step from research to purchase must be your focus. Remove all roadblocks related to the transaction – from reducing the number of clicks to optimizing the experience across all devices – in order to make the sale every time.

5. Test and measure. Once you’ve established your micro-moments strategy, test and measure using a cadence that is comfortable for your organization. The only way to get better is to make data-driven decisions, and then to continue to tweak your strategy based on results.

Want to know more about micro-moments and how they can create connections and impact the path to consumer purchases? Ask me!