Let’s ‘think different’ about customer experience
Most of us can easily list specific aspects that create or contribute to an outstanding customer experience: a friendly or kind salesperson, a website that feels natural, quality products … The list is long and changes so rapidly that, occasionally, something sneaks past us and quietly becomes part of the customer experience.
I’ve developed and directed creative for regional CPG companies, and it feels like I’ve always known packaging is an important element of marketing. Bold or bright colors jump out to consumers from grocery store shelves. A soft-touch finish on a box feels more luxurious than a gloss finish. A sturdy thick box makes anything inside feel or seem higher quality than if it were packaged in a flimsy box. In marketing, we’re always thinking about what compels consumers buy, what makes them loyal, and how we can increase customer retention. We know customer experience is crucial, but I’m not sure I’ve ever stopped to think about whether the act of opening a product’s package has any impact on these goals.
And then my new purple iMac arrived. Leave it to Apple — arguably, the company that does branding better than any other in the world — to figure out that opening the package is part of the customer experience.
The iMac arrived in a large, sturdy shipping box, but I just wanted to get it inside, plug it in, and press the power button. I’ve bought a half-dozen Apple computers over the past 30 years, and opening this one was just as thrilling as when I opened my first.
Redefining ‘customer experience’
The shipping box was large, and it was really heavy. iMacs are very lightweight, so the weight surprised me. I set the box on my office floor and noticed a pull-strip tab at one of the corners. I took a deep breath, grabbed the tab, and started to pull. I’ve become accustomed to these things tearing or breaking in the middle of the package or envelope, so I have to pull the rest of the strip off in tiny pieces.
This pull strip was heavy plastic, though, and it purred through the paper of the box as it sliced the seam in one long, smooth motion. I pulled down the front panel of the box and then decided to lay the box flat. The clean, beautiful design of the iMac box stared up at me. I found a similar pull-strip tab on this box, and it too zipped through the seam smoothly and easily.
That was it. Two easy steps, and no frustration from pull strips that brazenly defeated their purpose. I lifted the lid of the iMac box to find a clean, white piece of soft-touch synthetic paper with one word in the center in a friendly script font, printed in dark indigo ink: hello.
For me, this simple sheet protecting the screen of my iMac harked back to the Happy Mac icon that greeted users when booting older Apple computers. It made me happy for reasons I’m still examining, and I swear I could almost feel my affinity for the Apple brand grow stronger with each effortless stage of opening the iMac packaging.
And that’s what made me realize packaging is indeed part of the customer experience. Skeptical?
You won’t be the next time you buy a product in hard plastic clamshell packaging.
My iMac arrived two months ago, and I’m still reveling in the fact that Apple made opening the box
an aspect of its customer experience. Then again, Apple has always taught marketers to “think different” about branding.
Written by Amy Golden
AMA Omaha AVP of Pinnacles