The IKEA Model by Mark Angel
September 29, 2009, 10:30 am
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By Mark Angel

Today’s customers have high expectations. They want personalized, consistent, accurate and timely service. If your company fails to deliver — an increasingly common problem — they’ll take to the social Web to let you and the rest of the world know about it.

To better manage expectations, companies need to take a closer look at how they’re aligning their service offerings with their brand images. After all, your brand is only as strong as your customers’ perception of the company’s value proposition.

IKEA gets this. The company’s service matches its brand image.

Customers who shop at IKEA understand that they will be serving themselves. The company’s multi-lingual Website offers comprehensive information about self-service – everything from assembly instructions to service support to interior design tools. The site also offers a chat bot but stops short of providing robust email and phone support.

Similarly, the company’s stores don’t have staff waiting to help walk customers through the buying process. The showroom floor is set up like a series of already-designed rooms. If you have a question about an item, you write down the item number, visit one of the help kiosks and then go collect it yourself from the check out station.

IKEA customers are not disappointed with this lack of “white-glove service,” as my colleague Kate Leggett pointed out a recent post. They’re not disappointed because it’s not IKEA’s business model.

All companies should clearly align their services with their brand as IKEA does. Companies must give customers channels for communicating with support staff – whether it’s a chat bot or a live service agent – that correspond with their respective brands and meet customers’ expectations. Once they’ve determined the appropriate modes of support, a consistent service experience must be deployed across all supported communications channels. To achieve this, companies must break down silos among service databases and applications and ensure that all service activities are driven by a single knowledge base.


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