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FutureNow Article
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007

Scenarios, Spas and Cabana Boys

By Holly Buchanan
November 6th, 2007

Jeeves asks youI was laying on the beach, tropical sun beating down on my brow. I wasn’t glowing. I wasn’t perspiring. I was sweating. “Wow,” I thought, “I need to cool off.”

Just then, the resort cabana boy walks up and inquires, “Would you like some water mist spray?” And just like that, I was cooled down with the fine mist of cold water.

It was a life-altering moment.

I wanted to pack up that cabana boy and take him home with me. (I know what you’re thinking; it wasn’t like that.) It was simply so amazing to have someone anticipate my need and meet it at the same exact moment. This is why planning scenarios [define] is so important. Well-planned scenarios are all about anticipating your customers’ needs at the exact moment that need arises.

Scenarios are important both online and offline.

As long as we’re on the subject of resorts, lets go to my other favorite subject — spas. I was recently at The Boulders near Scottsdale. This place is truly amazing in their ability to get inside customers’ heads, understanding the exact point at which their needs arise, then satisfying those needs. It’s not always the big things that most impress your customers. With all the millions they poured into this resort, the thing that impressed me most was — drum-roll, please — a plastic bag.

Here’s the scenario — You’re a visitor at the spa. The spa area has a lovely pool and hot tub. Every spa visitor gets a locker with a comfy bathrobe and slippers. I’m at my locker, changing out of my wet bathing suit back into clothes to go back to my casita. (Sorry, but it’s just so much fun to say “my casita.”) Anyhooo, I realize that I have a wet bathing suit that I’m going to have to put into my purse to take back to my casita. I’m not happy about this. I take my bathrobe and slippers to the appointed bin to drop them off, and what’s sitting right at the side of that bin? A roll of plastic bags. Exactly what I need to transport my wet bathing suit.

Here’s another scenario — Most hotel rooms have magazines on the coffee table. Makes sense. But where else might you like to have a leisurely read? In my toilet room (yes, it has it’s own separate room), there’s a magazine rack with a lovely variety of mags to peruse. Now, I am no commode Cosmo reader, but I know several people who would much appreciate this anticipation of that need, and the presentation of the solution to that need at the very point they realize it.

One more scenario — You’re returning from the pool or going for a hike around the property. You may require services along the way for which ettiqutte would suggest you provide a tip. But you’re without your purse or any cash on your person. So the resort charges one daily service fee. Now, some people may not like that approach. But I can’t tell you how many times I found myself in that very position receiving a service and not having any money on hand. It saved me from that embarrassing position of looking like a cheap you-know-what when you don’t tip.

Offline, plan your customer scenarios. Anticipate and meet your customers’ needs at every step. Do the same thing online. At the very point a visitor says, “Gee, I’d like to have this,” provide it for them. At the very point they have a question, answer it. At the very point they wonder about returning a product, provide a return policy in plain language, right there on that product page (as opposed to buried in your FAQ). If you know women have a hard time buying bathing suits online, provide more exact sizing than just small, medium and large. (Victoria’s Secret sells many bathing suit tops by bra size so you can be sure you’re getting the right size.)

Anticipate your visitors’ needs and meet them at the very moment that need arises. Every website should have its own version of a cabana boy. It will lead to not only satisfied customers, but delighted customers.

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Comments (2)

  1. Provide cabana boys to the brides browsing our website for their wedding accessories. Hummm… I love it! But it might be bad for business.

    Actually this post comes at a good time. We’re doing exactly that right now (planning scenarios). It helps to remember to keep them simple yet 100% effective.

  2. You are so right! So many online businesses don’t think any further than shouting about the products they are interested in themselves. Much better to really think about what people need and then offer that as a service or product.

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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