Oct 29, 2009

The discounted customer experience - Bathroom Blogfest 2009

The bathroom blogfest started a couple of years ago with - a bunch of global women bloggers narrating their good…bad…and ugly experiences around restrooms.

The theme this year is a bit more inclusive - ‘Flushing the Recession and Plunging into Forgotten Spaces.’

There is not much more I could add around the bathroom customer experience. I have not been actively following that category in my research work nor has the public restroom facilities in India changed a great deal in the last couple of years.

Flushing the Recession...did bring to mind customer experience of a different kind. Earlier in the year when most retail brands had seen a steep drop in sales – the reaction was to announce large discount sales to get back the foot-falls. Their game plan worked and people did rush back. Though the experience at most stores was disappointing to say the least.

All I could remember of my visits to retail outlets during that phase was – brands being reduced to an untidy heap of merchandise…one had to really sift through the pile to get something that matched one’s size or taste. Sales staff were either missing or chatting way in corners and worst of all the discounts were far from attractive. Trial rooms were cramped, with disheveled clothes strewn around the place. And the experience was consistent across brands – whether one stepped into global brand outlet like UCB / Levis or a local brand outlet – it all felt the same. It did really feel like a ‘forgotten space!’ Did sales pick up? I don’t know thought I doubt it. However what such an experience does – is dilute the experience / image that a ‘brand’ creates for a long time to come.

A brand that stood out at that time was one that offered a consistent in-store experience to what it would offer on a ‘non-discount’ day – well stocked, well organized merchandise, courteous...helpful staff, the trial room was spacious, tidy and pleasant.

Brand owners often think that customers never fail to notice a discount in price…what they forget is - the customer will also never fail to notice a discounted experience.

Participating bloggers for the Bathroom Blogfest ’09 include:

• Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
• Shannon Bilby at From the Floors Up
• Shannon Bilby and Brad Millner at My Big Bob’s Blog
• Jeanne Byington at The Importance of Earnest Service
• Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
• Leslie Clagett at KB Culture
• Katie Clark at Practical Katie
• Iris Shreve Garrott at Checking In and Checking Out
• Julie at Julie’s Cleaning Secrets Blog
• Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
• Maria Palma at People To People Service
• Professor Toilet at Professor Toilet’s Blog
• David Reich at My 2 Cents
• Bethany Richmond at The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog
• Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
• Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
• C.B. Whittemore at
Flooring The Consumer and Simple Marketing Blog
• Linda Wright at Lindaloo.com: Build Better Business with Better Bathrooms

Links to the Bathroom Blogfest’s official Blog and Facebook Fan page


CB Whittemore said...

Reshma, thanks so much for participating once again in the Bathroom Blogfest. I love that you focus attention on the discounted experience and how it should be avoided. Well done! CB

Sunila said...

Wonderful that you are back! Great perspective on discounts - its an experience all of us have gone through in India by now.

Stephanie Weaver said...

You are so right about this! Thanks for participating again this year.
Stephanie Weaver

Susan Abbott said...

Customers notice a lot, don't they? The things retailers want them to notice, and the things they don't.

Good to have you back in the blogosphere!

Cheap Showers said...

I think I've missed this blog fest :(

shower grates said...

Some good work!

shower grates

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Pravin Nair said...

Hi Reshma,

I'm glad to have come across ur blog.It is full of insights into our everyday lives..
I completely agree with the discounted experience you have talked about..

However, having said that, i feel in india due to lack of evolved shopper behaviour and expectations, I do not think the discounted experience on discount days dilutes the image of the brand..

Indians are not high on experience.maybe those looking for high end brands, yes.But the majority of those who visit malls or lifestyle outlets do not necessarily look for experience.also, since they look for value buys during these discount days, I really do not feel experience is high on their minds..

I feel here is where we stand different..I mean walk into 'lifestyle'( that mecca of discounts) on a discount day and u will face all the problems u have mentioned..but I'm sure no one is complaining..at least the footfalls show that!

Hoard and get as many offers and value as possible on discount days seems to be the mentality of indian shoppers..big bazaar, oh god, it becomes a cacophony of sorts on discount days..'no service' doesnt stop us Indians :)

I still believe shopping experience(especially at malls,discount days) is something that perhaps only a minority of indian shoppers expect.We are not high up on the ladder becasue expectation of experience is an acquired taste n we have to still experience lot of it..

thnk once again for sharing this nice post!