I was amused to see this Youtube clip (tweeted by @RichardGiles) showing the “spontaneous” breakout into song by staff members at the new Microsoft Store in Mission Viejo, California.
Watching this video I see several branding and marketing lessons.
Firstly, if imitation is the best form of flattery, how flattered must Apple and Steve Jobs be feeling now? I mean the whole thing – down to staff dress, furniture, wall paneling, etc – is a flagrant rip off of the Apple Store. I guess MS must feel that its worked so well for Apple, so why not just copy?
More importantly, this effort to force a viral customer experience is easy to see through. You can see the pained expressions on people’s faces standing around, and can even see people walking away. This would wear thin with me quickly.
As a semi-regular visitor to the Apple Store Sydney, I have never once been subjected to transparent efforts to make it look like fun.
In fact, the Apple Store is fun because of the experience provided by the products, and the staff who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about those products.
I have to think that Microsoft realises that the product experience itself is ordinary, so they have to dress it up with these poor attempts at looking trendy, hip and viral.
The Microsoft Store reminds me of that silly paperclip thing that was a huge annoyance in earlier versions of Windows. A “song and dance” distraction to take your mind off the fact that the functionality and substance you want isn’t there.
At the Apple Store you get form and function. At the Microsoft Store, it seems like song and dance is the order of the day.
Customer Experience Lessons
- A great customer experience can’t be created without a great product. A thin veneer wears thin when you realise you fell for a song and dance sales pitch.
- Imitation might be a great form of flattery, but its rarely flattering for the one doing the imitating! Start with a great product, and forge your own story.