Mobile Computing

How One Sales Manager Helped Reinvent the Customer Experience

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When I stepped out of the City Furniture showroom in Tamarac, Florida, and headed to Cupertino, California, for a mobile app design session with IBM and Apple, I really didn’t know what to expect.

My initial thought was that they needed someone to listen in and answer questions while the designers, developers and IT team dove into technical innovation.

But to my surprise, once at the session, our CIO was asked to sit back while I was prompted to share the store associate’s perspective. It turned out that my input would help shape the user experience for the MobileFirst for iOS apps they would build, and which would be ultimately used by more than 400 of my fellow City Furniture associates at 27 of our showrooms in south Florida.

Prior to the advent of these apps, I would walk the 87,254 square foot showroom in heels, carrying end tables or lamps to show customers how it could match their living room set. After hours of shopping to find the perfect furniture, we would sit down at a deskbound “green screen” where I would enter the customer’s profile, delivery address and payment.

Customers would often see the final total and be surprised by the amount. Understandably, they would want to go back and review their order again. When that happened, we would have to cancel the entire order and start over to show how the amount was totaled.

This challenge led the IBM and Apple design team to create the Sales Assist app for iPad as a solution – which has been rebranded as ASAP, or Accelerating Sale Associates’ Performance and customized for City Furniture. Now we have 8,000 SKUs complete with images, product information, colors, styles and related products with real-time availability at our fingertips. It has made completing sales faster and saved my feet unnecessary steps.

Since customers can now see photos of products in their cart before they pay, they can visually confirm the accuracy of their order. That’s my favorite part. This not only saves me hours of time rewriting invoices or cancelling orders but also makes for a better, faster shopping experience for our customers, too. For added customer convenience, we are able to find related products and create a wish list to ensure shopping is fast and easy.

And with the new custom-built Payment app, we can walk around the showroom, put together their invoice with delivery preferences, and make a payment, all from the comfort of a showroom sofa or dining room table.

Recently, a shopper who bought a living room set forgot the matching coffee table he wanted that day. As he was running back into the store to complete his order, I saw him coming back in and decided to walk outside and meet him to ask what he needed. He explained the situation and since I had my iPad in hand, we were able to complete his order in minutes. This was the first City Furniture sale in history made from the parking lot!

Looking back, the value I brought to that initial design session is crystal clear. From process to pain points, the insight I shared helped influence the layout and flow of these new iOS apps. Now, a City Furniture sales associate has all the information he or she needs to answer any question about thousands of furniture products and styles. This is increasingly important as almost half of customers will research products online, but actually purchase the products in person, in the store.

Not to mention they can buy their favorite furniture anywhere, at anytime from the showroom floor. Or even the parking lot.

Sales Manager, City Furniture

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