Thinking Inside the Box

posted by Brian J. Curran

Last night I received this shipment from Pottery Barn for some seat covers that my lovely wife Dana and I purchased for our outside furniture. After opening the 4 boxes, I soon realized that everything that we purchased could have fit into one of the boxes. This is when things went downhill quickly as my brain kicked in and I started thinking. Why didn’t they just use one box? How much money could I have saved on shipping? What impact will this have on the environment? How will I fit all this cardboard into my recycling bin? The questions raced one after another through my head until finally I was summoned from the garage to dinner finally breaking the perpetual barrage of cerebral energy.

I love Pottery Barn and I will admit that in public but this one small incident has started to tarnish how I feel about doing business with them. I mean this is a sophisticated company who runs a very nice multichannel engagement model of catalogs, stores and call centers. What do you mean they don’t extend that sophistication down to their logistics? Don’t they know that the last mile of getting that stuff to my house and setting it up and actually using it are just as important as researching what I want to buy and select?

I will tell you that when we bought these covers in the store, the salesperson was outstanding and the merchandising in the store was beautiful and the checkout process was simple and I could go on and on about the experience. Then this happens.

I obviously think about the world in journeys and the engagement that I have with a brand in an entire lifecycle. It is the peril of what I do for a living and as my kids will tell you, my life is made up of millions of post-it notes describing the behaviors, attitudes and emotions of these engagements and the onstage and backstage capabilities (people, processes and technology) it takes to deliver the experiences.

If you as a brand are not looking at the entire journey of your customer and determining the moments that matter and measuring the impact of not delivering to the needs and expectations of your customer, you will continue to disappoint them. Dirty bathrooms in restaurants, late installation technicians, trash collectors who leave containers strewn everywhere, and all the other little pet peeves that we have start to accumulate and then some disruptive new business comes along and eliminates all the things that irked us and gets our business and your brand dies a death by a thousand pin pricks of ignorance.

Take time to walk the complete journey, not just a mile, in your customers shoes and you will start to understand the entire experience. Find those moments that matter and design new experiences that drive stickiness and advocacy.

Pottery Barn, I still love you but let’s start to think “Inside and Outside the Box”.

Have questions? I’m always happy to discuss new ways to design valuable customer experiences: email me at

Originally published on LinkedIn