If you want to understand how your customers use the product or service you offer, this is the best way to proceed. In this article, I give you two examples: at the grocery store and on an online shopping website.
Notify the customer of your intentions
First of all, you need to let your customers know what you’re going to do. You can select customers, and invite them to participate in the observation activity, such as in a marketing research or focus group. The downside is that you put them in a staged setting, so you don’t know if it’s actual behavior or an adaptation. It is better to go to the field, and ask them for permission to observe them, to understand how they use the product or service.
Gemba customer at the grocery store
You have two options:
- Follow part of the process, such as the checkout,
- Follow the entire process.
When you don’t know the process the customer is going through, you should choose the second option.
If you look at part of the process, it’s the same questions as in the factory, except that instead of looking at the product, you’re going to look at the customer and their behavior. Which check-out counter does he choose and why? How does he put items on the conveyor, how does he pack his bags? What are his interactions with employees?
Watch the full process
If you follow the customer, you’ll start outside: how did he come? Where does it park? What does he take with him, does he have a list of things to buy, how is the list made, in order of the store, meals, is it paper or digital, does he use the store flyer?
Then, inside,how does he move around the store? He follows a path he knows, he follows his list, or on the contrary, he goes back for forgotten items? How does he organize his cart or basket? How does he choose his products: does he touch the fruits to check their maturity, or prefer packaged vegetables? Does he look at the expiry dates, the weight of the meat? Does he look at ingredient lists on packages, or does he compare products? In that case, what does he compare?
Client Gemba customer on a e-commerce website
This kind of Gemba is always organized. Indeed , it is quite difficult to be next to the customer, at the moment when he decides to make his online purchase. You can use a variety of indicators to try to determine its behavior, but the ideal, remains the direct observation, at home.
The majority of Gemba will be observing navigation on the site, software can help with the simulation, but these software do not capture the physical behaviour of the customer: smile, annoyance, …
Observe step by step
Start by studying the environment and circumstances. When does the customer go to the online shopping site? What device does he use, in which room? Is he on his couch with his cell phone, in his office on a computer? Is he alone or accompanied? Does he listen to music, television?
Then observe hisbehavior. How does he choose the items? Does he have a list, electronic or paper? Does he compare products to each other or on other sites, does he ask a family member for advice? Is it interrupted, and how does it react? How does he navigate the site, use menu, search function, article suggestions? Has he identified himself on the site, or has he been recognized? How does he finalize the order, make the payment?
Going to Gemba to observe customers is always difficult, but it’s the guarantee of understanding how your customers use your products.