Earlier, we examined when a customer experience ends at a retail store, but when does the experience actually begin? Here are several examples of companies in various industries who have examined the question and have pushed the customer experience dramatically forward of their front door.
VW - Automobiles
If you were a car company, you may say the retail experience for the customer begins when the customer enters the showroom and starts looking at the cars. But VW would disagree with you. Watch the following video about their factory in Dresden, Germany.
Where most car manufacturers hide the assembly line behind walls, VW has made the line an extension of their showroom. Each step in the process becomes a performance that the customer can watch -- and even take part in.
Amali - Restaurant
Most restaurant web sites focus on their locations, their menu and getting you to make a reservation, but Amali in New York City focuses on a different mission for its website. The owners would prefer that you are hungry before you arrive at the restaurant. By leading with stunning photographs of menu items on their front page (and every other page) your tastebuds and stomach are already seated long before you arrive at the maître d' stand.
KrispyKreme - Donuts
What can we learn about customer experience from the simple, ubiquitous donut? As it turns out, a lot!
A few years back, I attended a conference in Las Vegas. Since I was taking the redeye home, I had a few hours to kill after the conference ended, so I wondered into the tunnel that connects the Luxor to the Excaliber. As I got closer to the Excaliber, I noticed a crowd of people pressed up against a glass wall. When I made my way to the front, I saw KrispyKreme donuts dancing in a lazy river of frying oil, through a series of elaborate racks and flipping machines and finishing up in a shower of sugary glaze. Every person pressing against the glass were engaged in the show, eagerly awaiting their turn in line to buy their box (or boxes!) of hot, delicious donuts.
These are just three examples of companies who refused to adopt a "build it and they will come" approach to the customer experience. Instead of waiting for the customer to come to them, they reached out and included the customer into the process.
When does your customer start experiencing your product or service?