29 April 2019 | 9 Comments
I recently scheduled an annual checkup with my doctor. After finalizing the date and time of my appointment on the phone, the receptionist informed me that I needed to update my paperwork.
Paperwork! Visions flashed through my mind of awkwardly crouching over a clipboard in the doctor’s office, gripping one of those pens with the plastic flowers taped to the end.
But then the receptionist offered an alternative: “You can print out the form from our website and fill it out in advance.” Sure, it’s still paperwork, but it makes a huge difference to be able to fill it out on my time in the comfort of my home.
Perhaps most importantly, I felt like they were looking out for me as a customer. They were putting my convenience first, despite the extra effort they had to expend to build a website and feature the form on it.
The experience made me reflect on Stonemaier Games. My overarching philosophy is to “make it about them”; that is, put the customer first when making decisions. In terms of convenience, though–removing areas of potential discomfort and making things easier for the customer–I’m not sure I actively think about that as much as I should.
I can only think of a few examples:
- Champion Cancellations: The recurring memberships app we use for Stonemaier Champions will automatically charge members once a year to continue their membership. I would prefer for those members to get a notification from the app, but until the developers implement that, I send a monthly update to Champions a few weeks before their auto-renew will happen that details exactly how to end their membership if that’s what they want (and assuring them that I won’t even see the cancellation).
- Tell Us Anything: There are many different reasons why someone might want to contact us directly; in fact, there are 10 different reasons and methods listed on our Contact page. However, on that page is a simple form where anyone can simply tell us anything they want. No need to open an e-mail or hunt down the perfect contact method.
- Bundled Products: Very recently I started offering product bundles on our website, with the idea being that sometimes customers don’t want to track all of the various products related to our games. For example, if you find yourself looking at any Viticulture expansion on our website, you’ll also see the “all Viticulture expansions bundle” (which conveniently offers a discount too).
- Learning Games: I understand that for many people, learning the rules of a game is quite inconvenient. So I try to design our games and rulebooks with learnability in mind. Sometimes we even include quick-start guides in the game, and we always contract Rodney at Watch It Played for people who prefer to have a video version of the rulebook.
- E-newsletter Top Articles and Videos: I create a lot of content on this blog and my game design YouTube channel. For people who just want to see the most popular posts, I highlight the most-read article and the most-viewed video on our monthly e-newsletter. I offer longer top-5 lists in the monthly Champion newsletter.
- Replacement Parts: Requesting a missing or broken component can be an awkward experience. We get thousands of these requests every year, so we try to make it as easy and essentially as anonymous as possible–all you do is fill out a form, and a week or so later the piece will show up in your mailbox.
- Easy-Open Components: Have you ever tried to open a shrinkwrapped deck of cards that doesn’t have an easy-peel strip? It’s agonizing! Recently we talked to our manufacturer, Panda, and they revealed an even friendlier (both for the consumer and the environment) method of packaging cards: paper strips. So we’re going to be implementing them whenever possible from now on.
- Back-in-Stock Requests: I don’t think it should be the customer’s responsibility to remember to check back to see when a product is in stock again, so last year I added a back-in-stock app to our Shopify store. That way you can “set it and forget it,” trusting that I’ll contact you whenever a reprint of a game like Wingspan is available.
My list started out with 2 things, but it grew a bit more as I thought about it. But I’d still like to do a better job of this, and I’d love to hear your examples of other companies that try to put the customer’s convenience first.
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