We are anxiously waiting for spring to arrive in Minnesota. Right now it seems we could be buried in a never ending winter. Dana, our Director of Customer Experience, spent the day in our store yesterday and part of the visit was to brainstorm on our accessory area to give it a fresh and Spring-like revision. We are always trying to figure out how to engage our customers to feel comfortable “shopping” our beautiful accessory area.
We are also preparing for the arrival of the first wave of our new Boston Associates. We will be training the Design Associates for the new store starting at the end of March. Because it will be a fairly large group there will be three facilitators per day with four people per group. The logistics are important and we are having a few meetings to ensure a smooth and meaningful training experience for a brand new store.
Our experience with the Seattle store-opening team was so incredibly memorable and rich that we still feel a deep bond with them. We hope to create a similar experience with the Boston team that will launch them toward success. I can speak for myself when I say that I love being a facilitator. I totally enjoy meeting new and delightful people and I love showing them what a wonderful company this is.
Have I mentioned how great our website is? We talk a lot in these posts about the showroom experience, as if the website and showroom were two distinct channels, but the truth is they overlap. Working with customers usually involves a collaboration, so to speak, between Design Associate and website. Often clients come in to see firsthand something they viewed on Roomandboard.com. Throughout the engagement, Design Associates will return to the website to reference custom pricing, look up sectional components, print tear sheets and grab article numbers. After a client takes delivery, I even send them a link to the Product Care section of the website to help them maintain their new furniture for years to come.
An amped up Wishlist is the newest development for Roomandboard.com, and I am certain this will not only change how we work with clients, but enhance the experience. The new wishlist capabilities allow us to create multiple wishlists for a single client catagorized by room. You can then view the items in each room in a traditional list format, or you can view larger images of the products all grouped together like a mood board.
Customers can and will do this on their own, but I have a feeling we’ll be doing some of this together in the showroom. It’s a handy way for us to give clients a quick visual of their room design, and another example of how Design Associates and the website can work in tandem to create an exceptional experience for our clients.
Never. The day-to-day will keep you on your toes for sure, but floor change season will keep you on pointe — prima ballerina style. Every year each Room & Board showroom undergoes a breathtaking, Cinderella-like transformation in a single night. It’s the result of months of careful planning and collaboration. As a member of the bedding team, I had the good fortune to participate in this magical metamorphosis three times. Watching each showroom don its glittering new pieces and come to life with fresh combinations is a wellspring of inspiration, and I can’t wait to get back to the floor to tap into it with my clients!
This marks Week 2 of training for our latest crop of new hires. Alison and Michael are catching on quickly and with what appears extraordinary ease. Training at Room & Board is thorough and intense, four weeks packed with information, role-playing, computer education, company philosophy, not to mention getting to know all the rest of us. It’s a tall order, and these quick-studies are making it look easy. Lucky us!
My own specialty here is upholstery and fabric, and so I was asked to provide that training. In four hours over two days, we looked at how sofas are constructed; we discussed the fiber content of fabrics and how that speaks to “durability.” We walked the showroom “trying on” sofas to get a feel for the different cushioning, and touched on leather production and care. And a whole lot more, besides. It’s true that if you want to know a subject thoroughly, teach it to someone: These guys had lots of great questions that had me digging deep into my product knowledge for answers!
I like having new folks come aboard–it’s invigorating! Memories return of my own training (almost four years ago) in our Soho store, and I re-experience the awe and gratitude I felt for how much care and thought those design associates gave to the process. The Washington, DC team feels beholden to provide the same top-notch experience for our new hires. At Room & Board, it’s called “setting them up for success.” Yesterday, Alison and Michael shadowed some of us on the sales floor. It was a busy Saturday, and it was impressive to watch them take to their new roles like pros. Congratulations to them both on an auspicious beginning!
During my last round of vacation, my husband and I stopped into Room & Board to check out some sofas (I just can’t stay away!). Our pairing poses a common problem of both scale (he’s twice my size) and taste (mine’s better), so I knew landing on sofa we could both love would be challenging. I came to the table ready to extol the virtues of clean lines and leggy frames, hoping that if he just spent some quality time with my favorites, he would come to see their superiority. He was a sport, awkwardly perched on my tiny sofas, and I tried my best not to make gagging sounds at his suggestions. Suffice to say, we just couldn’t agree.
Finally I had to relinquish my desire for trim lady-like seating and consider a more substantial option. In the end, we both fell in love with the Hayes — which he finds comfortable and I find beautiful (see, there’s a Room & Board sofa for everyone!).
Shopping for furniture is such a personal endeavor. There are so many considerations and, if you’re sharing a home, so many compromises to make. But taking the time results in a beautiful, comfortable home that works with how you live and represents who you are. I’m a Hayes!
Twice in the past month, I have helped customers who had never been in our showroom previously, but were here to see something they had found with the help of google. Our Brand team at Central has done a great job to ensure that Room & Board products come up high in search results on google and other search engines. Both customers had googled “swivel chairs” and found our website, looked at our options, and decided to take a trip in to check Room & Board out. I really enjoy working with new customers. Our showroom is so vast and filled with beautiful room settings filled with American made furniture. It’s fun to see people be so impressed with what we offer and the level of customization and service. Both customers bought swivel chairs here on their first visit!
I am writing today from our Customer Support office, which is in Elkridge, MD, about 45 minutes north of the Washington, DC, showroom. As part of my Priorities and Measures (the goals we create for ourselves for the year), I asked for this opportunity to shadow with this team. I wanted to better understand the role of Customer Support and to get a closer look at how we Design Associates can best partner with them. Here at Room & Board, its pretty much “ask and you shall receive,”–express a particular interest or desire to learn, and it’s pretty assured you will be given the opportunity.
Customer Support takes over where the Design Associate’s role leaves off: scheduling deliveries; routing the delivery trucks; arranging exchanges and returns, and following up with any issues that arise in transit or in the customer’s home at or after delivery. Today, from Jamelle, I learned how we route our trucks (a very cool and somewhat intimidating task–with colorful computerized maps, dots, and lines, requiring a strategist’s mind). Kara gave me the behind-the-scenes look at what happens when a customer reschedules a delivery and helped me understand the ins and outs of a variety of customer issues. And with Angelique, I got to sit in on a conference call about how we handle repairs for our customers. From everyone, I have learned some best practices that I can take back to the team in the store that will make life easier and increase efficiency for the folks in Customer Support, which, in turn will lead to better experiences for our customers.
Cross-training not only gives us deeper insight into the company’s practices, it’s also fun. It helps us get to know on another as people, strengthening our relationships, putting faces and personalities to the voice on the phone, which creates better relationships, morale, and a really nice working environment.