Making UX Work with Joe Natoli

Episode 10, Kristin Currier Ludlow: YES WE CAN!

December 17, 2018 Season 1 Episode 10
Making UX Work with Joe Natoli
Episode 10, Kristin Currier Ludlow: YES WE CAN!
Chapters
Making UX Work with Joe Natoli
Episode 10, Kristin Currier Ludlow: YES WE CAN!
Dec 17, 2018 Season 1 Episode 10
Joe Natoli / Kristin Currier Ludlow
My guest today is Kristin Currier Ludlow, a Digital Designer with over 20 years of helping people shop better online and in stores.
Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is Kristin Currier Ludlow, a Digital Designer with over 20 years of helping people shop better online and in stores.

In my experience, retail is one of the toughest industries to advocate for and create UX change, but as you'll hear, it's a challenge Kristin has risen to — and overcome.

Kristin believes that everything in retail — and life — is user experience. Whether you're resetting a store or an building an online shopping cart, it's the same thing. And as you'll hear, she's applied that belief to every task she's ever tackled. 

From companies like Office Depot, Home Depot, CompUSA and Levenger to her current gig with a small UX team at City Furniture, Kristin has carried the DIY spirit and positive, can-do attitude of punk rock into everything she does.

That being something we share, this was an absolutely inspiring conversation for me.


Twitter:

@kristincurrier

Facebook:

Kristin Joy Currier Ludlow

LinkedIn:

Kristin (Currier) Ludlow, UXC

Instagram:

kristincurrier

Websites:

http://source-studio.com
http://kristincurrier.com/

Speaker 1:
0:08
Hello and welcome to making us work that give you podcast. I'm your host Jonah Toli and our focus here is on folks like you doing a real often on glamorous Eurex work in the real world. You'll hear about their struggles their successes and their journey to and through the trenches of product design development and of course user experience. My guest today is Kristin Courrier Ludlow a Digital Designer with over 20 years of helping people shop better online and in stores. She's worked with companies like Office Depot Home Depot CompUSA lovage furniture a South Florida chain is rebranding expanding and rapidly growing e-commerce team. Kristen believes that everything in retail and life is user experience. Whether you're resetting a store or building an online shopping cart the same thing.
Speaker 2:
1:04
Here's my conversation with Kristin Currier Ludlow on making new work.
Speaker 3:
1:10
So Kristen how are you. I'm fantastic. How are you. I am fantastic as well it's the end of the week. You know hey it's my favorite day the week.
Speaker 4:
1:22
What's going on for you this weekend the exciting. Yeah. We've got a lot of exciting things going on.
Speaker 5:
1:28
I'm have been doing a lot of work with the e-mail here e-mail design and work City Furniture and Florida. And I've done e-mail design amongst other design work. Other e-commerce companies for a while now. This is a sort of a family led business that's looking to expand rapidly and they're going under a little bit of a rebrand right now. So we've got a lot going on. It's we're moving really quickly with the brand and also expansion plans into northern Florida. So I'm putting together a lot of foundational elements for the email going forward and we're also adding more people into the team. Very cool.
Speaker 6:
2:10
So the lighting times that I was speaking of which how many people are on that team I mean how many people are working in the sort of us or design area aside from yourself.
Speaker 5:
2:20
Wolfert just the design team has three of us. Okay. And there was one you ex designer when I first got here and then we did we hired a visual designer probably a year ago.
Speaker 7:
2:32
And so is the three of us are a little bit like a super group right now super group telling me actually what we are releasing a record soon. I think so yeah.
Speaker 6:
2:45
I'll tell you what's cool when I look at your Linked In profile is that all down the line right. I see retail organizations yeah depot CompUSA Level 1 Clevenger Office Depot and then city furniture. And what jumps out at me in particular is that there's a very clear path to me that this that this represents right. You started in looks like you're doing some visual merchandising at first.
Speaker 7:
3:14
I sure was. Things like that signs displays. Yeah right.
Speaker 6:
3:19
So to come in at that level and then work your way up you know sort of through various things to where you are right now. To me this is sort of like it's an inspirational path I think because a lot of folks feel like they'll never get to where they want to be and they feel like the job they're doing now is very far removed from what they want. And I don't know to my eye. You are living proof that it can absolutely be done.
Speaker 8:
3:49
Absolutely. I absolutely agree. It's it's been a wild ride. I got started in retail just needed a job. I was probably 19 years old and I just got out of the sort of what they sold liquidated good.
Speaker 5:
4:02
So if you had a business and that business went up in flames and you had merchandise this company would to it up and resell it. And it was a funky little company in the Boston area. And I started out doing all their hand painted signs and posters. And from then on I continued to work in retail it seemed every job I had and I've had a ton of jobs in brick and mortar and design for retail. It was all about making a better environment for shoppers.
Speaker 6:
4:32
And that's the gig right. I mean in every aspect and every aspect of you know what you're doing in retail type environment. I have always personally felt because my past history I had a lot of retail clients as well. Yeah. Worked for Merry-Go-Round at one point in-house. Way way way way way back when. And it's kind of the thing I always say about design rate design is design and design is you x. It's all the same stuff when you think about marketing branding and all this. The outward expression of that as it relates to the people shopping in the stores or online or whatever it is right. I mean that's what we're doing here right. Exactly. Do you feel like because because of these environments that you've worked in because of sort of the retail as part of what you doing. Do you feel like you may have gained some experiences or insights that benefit you in particular as you go forward.
Speaker 8:
5:25
Oh yeah absolutely. Since I've been where I've worked it out it was it was face to face with the customer. I did a lot of work with Home Depot on the floor and you know various other retail places where I had direct access to the customers and also the salespeople. They're really important to get to know to because they have first experience first hand experience with what customers are asking for how they shop you know to transfer that over to the first print and then to online you really get a good range of you know feel for what customers are looking for. Kind of like an empathy thing.
Speaker 6:
6:04
Yeah I would think having that kind of face to face contact goes a long way in that in particular if you work on the floor. I think you see what's lacking number one based on the questions people asking you and I'm sure that you start to see patterns.
Speaker 8:
6:21
Oh you sure do.
Speaker 6:
6:24
Any incidents or stories or anything that stands out for you in any of those is good.
Speaker 8:
6:30
Yeah I think what I was working from home depot was one of the first stores in the Quincy Massachusetts area and it was it was when Home Depot was first really spreading across the country they start in Georgia and they were gonna open up their first Boston area store and that was in Quincy Massachusetts area and I got a job there. I was working the sales floor and I noticed that nothing was really signed you know this is the first real big box model that people were experiencing and they would walk into the store and they'd be completely lost. It was a very confusing experience. Lots of truck you know trucks beeping and rolling around and things being moved around. Nothing was really signed very well people didn't know how much anything was they didn't know where to find things. And I answered a lot of questions.
Speaker 8:
7:19
We all were very heavy on customer service because we had to be there with the customer and basically take them by the hand and help them out. So I started signing everything and making sure everything in the store was signed all the books that were signed. And I eventually ended up creating like a wayfinder system that would indicate in the aisles where all things would be. So if you're looking for Scrooge you knew where those would be. And so that was sort of my first introduction to I don't know if you want to call me commission architecture but just getting people to find what they're looking for.
Speaker 6:
7:58
Yeah. Out of curiosity how new was Home Depot at this point in the time period that you're talking about like how new was this concept of this massive storm where everything you could ever possibly want that drives home improvement was in one place in this warehouse sized space.
Speaker 8:
8:15
Well we had a couple of stores in the New England area that sort of emulated what Home Depot was doing but not to this Bretts. This is massive and I don't think we even had Wal-Mart at that time. Now we had a few large department stores but a home improvement store size was kind of blew people's minds a bit.
Speaker 6:
8:36
Right. So it's what I'm getting at is it going from what you're used to to this entirely new concept is pretty overwhelming experience.
Speaker 3:
8:44
Yeah you know it's like wandering into a city that doesn't have any street signs.
Speaker 5:
8:51
People have no frame of reference at all they were just wandering around completely lost.
Speaker 6:
8:57
So when you created these signs were you doing it. Was this sort of a DIY thing or was it sanctioned by Home Depot where they're saying OK we'll print them a few if you do and we'll print them.
Speaker 8:
9:06
Oh everything's DIY with me and I missed them. It wasn't even my job you know in the beginning I just saw a need and I said you know what it will make my life easier. You know I love this. Open up no more space for me to get things done because I was also involved with you know a lot of resets and making things physically shock people. So yeah I ended up just taking this on and the manager said You know what this is really cool. Why don't you just do this full time. So that's all I did. Wow. Yeah. And then eventually they created their own plastic Finder System and installed it all of the store.
Speaker 6:
9:46
That's fantastic. Yeah it was absolutely fantastic. And here's what's relevant. OK for everybody that's listening folks this is a prime example. If I had a nickel for every time I heard somebody say well you know they will give us approval to do this or they won't. They don't agree that we should do this or I'm not allowed to. And I think to myself bullshit just do it.
Speaker 4:
10:08
Yes. You know I mean a case in point like OK this sucks for us it sucks for our customers. And you know I mean you could've spent another month bitching about it but you didn't. You just said All right well here's what I'm going to do. We'll fix it.
Speaker 8:
10:25
Right. I honestly I think that's the nature of e-commerce people at least most the people I've worked with they have that mindset. We're all renegades and sometimes we get to trouble and break some rules and battles papers but we're usually hopefully thinking about the user at all times.
Speaker 6:
10:42
I think that's really interesting. They say that this is sort of a characteristic thread that you've seen through the folks that you've worked with in the space. Yes most of them. Wow. Why do you think that is.
Speaker 8:
10:52
I think it's the nature of e-commerce in general moves really quickly and so does technology. And you you are you're always challenged to keep up with you know shopper habits and what people are really doing and what they're buying. So you've got to get used to change and to have that mindset you've got to be a little bit of a rebel and be able to accept challenge and challenge and to adapt with the times. So I just think it's a natural with most people I've worked with.
Speaker 6:
11:22
Really do find that fascinating and it makes total sense. You know the way you just explained it. Yeah. It makes total sense to me but it's the kind of thing you know I would really like to see take hold in a lot more places. Yeah so what. Because the pace is the same as far as I can see. You know I mean the pace of change the pace of technological advancement the pace at which inside her organization I always say the urgent trumps the important. And you don't like Do this do this do this with do this like when are you going to. You know I talked to a company a week ago they're talking to me about this new B2B Web site. They want to roll out specifically for their business customers right. And they're reeling off this massive amount of. Content changes they want to make and Information Architecture ideas and all these things and it's all good. OK it's all really smart. Yeah. It's all moving in the right direction. And I say OK what do you think your general timeline looks like for this. And they go next Wednesday.
Speaker 9:
12:28
I said How.
Speaker 6:
12:29
I don't mean to be the naysayer in the room but how do you possibly think you're going to pull that off right next Wednesday. What is that. You know and what inevitably happens is because that target is so big nothing happens right because of trying to do all of it at the same time. Yeah. Yeah. So again I just think your example is a really good one. It was our most pressing problem right now. It's this. OK let's do this right. Here's the solution. Right. Put up some signs. Yeah. Speaking of the DIY thing I learned a short while ago that you and I have some similar maybe punk rock roots.
Speaker 3:
13:12
Yeah I guess we do. Tell me a little bit about that.
Speaker 8:
13:18
Oh boy. Well growing up in the south shore area of Boston you know we had. A nice music scene going on there. Yes you did. Sure it did. And it was pretty amazing. I was a lonely nerd nerdy kid growing up in a fishing village basically and I wasn't really into the music around me and I didn't have a whole lot of close friends. I don't you know play with the radio dial looking for signs of life. You know almost like that Lou Reed song little girl five years old I sing rock n roll that was me. And yeah I found some great music being put out by college stations and got into that and then I started finding people that were almost like my tribe. You know people who are into the skateboarding scene and it would go to shows in downtown Boston and that sort of thing. And that's actually where I met my husband. Why I I'm currently married to or were a couple of old punks that still listen to the music and still love it. I grew up with Henry Rollins too. I was reading a lot of his poetry growing up. You and I could probably tougher days around.
Speaker 6:
14:30
All by itself. And like you I take inspiration from the same places. You know I mean for me even though I grew up in Ohio OK for whatever reason my cousins and a good friend of ours Jimmy Donadio was into D.C. hardcore particular. So you know bad brains and minor threat black fly forgotten even a flag went out to California. But you know Henry and Ian in particular were kind of like the cornerstones of all and the labels too like you know like t discord at a Boston Tang records.
Speaker 7:
15:07
Yeah right. All that stuff. Yeah it was great stuff.
Speaker 6:
15:13
To what degree do you feel like that experience that scene that music and as you said I'm still sort of there it's still meaningful to you which it is for me as well. Yeah. How do you feel like that influenced your approach. I mean not just even to your career but but to everything to your trajectory from the time you discovered that stuff to the time you went to school to the time your first job and onward.
Speaker 8:
15:40
Yeah everything and I really mean that it affects everything that I do and it provides a lens for me to view the world as something to question and even myself questioning myself like if I ever think I can't do something if I can't learn how to code or if I can't get this job I want to get. I call bullshit on it yeah. You know I challenge myself and I like to challenge other people as well. It's a very DIY ethic like anything you think you can do. You can if you really put your mind to it.
Speaker 6:
16:13
Yep totally agree. Yeah. I also feel like this may be a stretch in a thread here but I also feel like the accessibility of a lot of those folks a lot of those musicians a lot of those bands played a major role in sort of shift in my perspective of who they were because when you removed you know you look at these these folks like they are. I don't know they're celebrities in a way. They're they're removed. Like you're not them you're not on that level. They exist in this rarefied air of some sort. And then when you have exposure to them. Right. If you if you're lucky enough to meet some of these folks in person you sort of get a very different perspective which is like no I pulled myself up out of it just like you have to get you know essentially the message I had a five minute conversation.
Speaker 3:
17:02
A million years ago with the McCain ad like my head exploded because in this any little space of time just a random conversation.
Speaker 6:
17:12
He was just like well no we just decided that somebody should do this so we did it right and we didn't know what we're doing. There's no great plan other than my friends are making awesome music and I want to release it.
Speaker 8:
17:21
That's it. That's another thing is that you don't have to know what you're doing now and you might be fearful that you're going to fail to do it anyway. You know you just have to fall on your face and get back up and do it again. You might be only able to play three chords but you can make a great song that's recorded. It's the same that applies in design. And I feel like most people I work with there are a lot of punk rock and they're not afraid to fail.
Speaker 6:
17:48
And I think it's necessary. Yeah it really is. I think that spirit is necessary. I mean a lot of the things that I say out loud and then in interviews and articles come directly from those experiences. I mean you talked about Henry right. Yeah. Here's a guy who for the last I don't know probably since 1989. OK if I have ever written or emailed or anything like you get a response back. Wow. Always. Every time. Yes. And like again a million years ago I asked the question What would you say to somebody from a writers actually. And I said Would you say to somebody who feels like they want to write the words poetry or books or whatever the case may be you know what would your advice to young people feeling like this is this is a huge mountain to climb. And he said Go out there and get your nose broken up because because there is no other way you can sit around waiting for the opportunity you can sit around waiting until you're fearless you can sit around waiting for all the planets to align or.
Speaker 7:
18:51
For the risk to lessen. And it's not going to happen right. And again it was like a moment for me and I thought I'm going to carry that forward.
Speaker 8:
19:01
Yeah it's very powerful and I'm talking too much.
Speaker 6:
19:05
But another thing that he said to me that I always carry with me is that he was like look if I got this for you know I'm a high school education minimum wage world kind of guy like if I got this far you should be able to get twice as far. And I believe that at at this point in my career at 50 I really really believe that there is nothing stopping you except you.
Speaker 8:
19:33
That's a beautiful thing to say especially when you're looking at 50. I just turned 49 yesterday.
Speaker 4:
19:39
You're going to join the club soon. They're not far behind.
Speaker 8:
19:44
But it's been interesting you know age to be at. And I you know I've had for the first time in my life I'm experiencing that age conversation I think a lot of designers do when they hit 40 and a lot of millennials are getting out of these coed academies and they're looking around at a market that's changing and shifting towards millennials and they're thinking to themselves my my relevant anymore and I've had that conversation and I never really thought I would. And I had to look at that conversation and say to myself you know what that chatter might always be in my head that doubt. But you know it's just another day out that I had when I was younger that just shifted into another context. Right. And I have to commit myself to what I am empowered to do today and just kind of call bullshit on myself and move forward.
Speaker 6:
20:36
So I mean you kind of just answered it. But when you're struggling like that. Yeah. Because I don't think it goes away. No you know it sort of keeps popping up over and over again. When you're going through that what do you call up in your head or your heart or what do you lean on. To sort of help yourself push through that.
Speaker 8:
20:56
That's a really really good question. It starts I believe and it's going to sound a little weird but I really look towards gratitude and the things that are going well in life and in your job and your career and your relationships and really taking a good look at what is working and remembering a bigger picture. It's not just about in the home. It's not just about how you are doubting yourself right here and now it's about the bigger scope of things and what's possible. And I know that sounds really like a big tent thing but it really that's what gets me going is thinking about all the endless possibilities that are opening up in this field and in life in general. Yeah it's huge. Not. That's what I am.
Speaker 6:
21:41
It's good. Being an optimist is a necessary ingredient. Yup it's a requirement for this job. Yes it is. You know and and I think you're right about I don't think it sounds woo woo at all. I think that it's very easy especially when you're struggling to lose sight of like you said the things that are working. Yeah. To lose sight of what's going right to lose sight of what you've accomplished. Right. And you have to I totally totally agree with you. You have to lean on that. I mean I'll give you an example. Doug Collins who's in the group just launched a new Web site called Yorke's news and he's doing this thing called Five question Friday. So he asked me to be sort of the first guest. Anyway he posted a quick thing last night that said this is coming up tomorrow. And he said some unbelievable things that really floored me. It was like you know about about the value of the answers I gave him and he was like you know sends shivers up my spine or something like that. And numb the only reason I mention is because every single time that happens I am genuinely there's some part of me that is genuinely shocked.
Speaker 3:
22:49
You know that's like me yeah.
Speaker 7:
22:54
You know it just it never it never stops. And I think that's.
Speaker 6:
22:59
The negative part of that is I think like we're talking about it's very easy to lose sight of your value of what you provide to people.
Speaker 8:
23:08
Yeah it can be it can be a challenge at times.
Speaker 6:
23:12
What kinds of things show up for you that make you feel like Okay yeah this is as it should be. This is I'm headed in the right direction here. Oh yeah. I mean what kind of signposts or evidence are things of that nature.
Speaker 8:
23:26
Do you look for it just presents itself one thing or another. It's it's everywhere I look. Just know I'm absolutely in the right place at the right time and what the right people. And it's really remarkable where I'm at right now because we have leadership by and from the top. So everything that we're trying to do here on our little growing team they have our back and in just the right people are in the right places at the right time and everything's working as it should.
Speaker 6:
23:56
Is that Byam something that you had to to work for or was it women was there before you came in or was it sort of a symbiotic kind of thing were that grew as you did more work a little bit.
Speaker 8:
24:09
And I think the byan was already there. I think it was the mindset that was already in place that the people who run this company they really want to grow. They say this is a lean company so they have people come up like a Toyota all the time it's just remarkable how they run this company. So they're very open to change and growth. So when this is a very young e-commerce team open age and also in time span we're into this company. So we just kept pushing for you know little things and incremental improvements and winning on that we have a little analytics team and they back up what we do with data. So when we show the data that really also reinforce that. So the right things are in the right place at the right time.
Speaker 6:
24:54
It certainly sounds like you can give me an example of an instance where you had an incremental win that led to something you know bigger where you got you had a higher degree of trust. Right. And now you're you can do something that's even more impactful as a result of getting that Smolan.
Speaker 8:
25:07
Yeah I think it goes to the design that we're doing here the visual design and the U.S. design together. Before we came here they had the traditional design team handling the branding team and all the other great designers there wasn't. They weren't really connected to the user experience. What was happening on the on the website. So when we came in we had to show them in a gentle manner because we didn't want to disrupt the culture too much. And little by little we started really gaining ground and edging the company more towards a very sophisticated look and feel it took some time. We were able to to do it and if you looked at how we looked like about a year ago and see what where we're at now and we still have a lot of work to do. We're still a small team but it's night and day. It's a sea change.
Speaker 6:
26:01
I just called up the website City Furniture. Very very nice.
Speaker 8:
26:05
How old is this company about 40 years old. Wow yeah I started out as a waterbed company 40 years ago.
Speaker 6:
26:13
Interesting. So what I'm seeing now you're saying is a radical departure from what was. Yes very. I mean this looks like a top tier retail brand. That's what we're shooting for. Yeah obviously. And it's remarkable. The reason I asked you about their age was because quite honestly it's very remarkable for a company that's 40 years old to have this kind of very strong commitment to X to design to giving you guys the leeway to move things forward.
Speaker 8:
26:42
Yeah it's it's remarkable right and it's so cool to watch and be a part of. And that's part of where my gratitude stems from is that I get to be here. I get to work with these people and create you know a more mature e-commerce and new X team were tiny now but you know since I've been here we've really expanded development side brought on another debt data scientist and inadequate product donors. So I'm looking at this company just expanding and it's going to be wonderful to see what we accomplished next year. Next five years.
Speaker 6:
27:13
Some of it sounds fantastic. The environment that you're in certainly seems conducive to that kind of growth fund. Shurins so let's go here in terms of what you think is on the horizon here growth your expansion what do you think that looks like in a couple of ways. Right in the outward facing service of the company in terms of how it serves consumers right from Web site to retail you know physical brick and mortar to maybe apps and things like that but also the sort of makeup of the team I mean what how do you see that evolving from here. Wow. If you've had those discussions I'm just curious. Yeah.
Speaker 8:
27:56
The possibilities are endless with this one. I see the team and when I work for Office Depot I kind of saw a little bit of this too because it was a while back and I was part of a very small team that grew extremely rapidly. So I have a little bit of a model that I built up in my head. We'll see how close to reality it becomes. But I see this team really growing probably doubling in size. We're talking about here hiring in design and we're going to need a whole new X team I know that. Sure we're going to be moving into mobile augmented reality and really looking at user testing we don't do any user testing right now so we're sort of designing of the dark a little bit. So that's going to be on the horizon as well. We're looking at moving team members remotely so we're looking at our processes. We have a little bit of a mash up between how who will decide DesignWorks and gyal and then combine. So it's a interesting mix that we've got going on and we're in that and almost like an experimental stage where we'll see what works what doesn't and we get rid of the things that don't work for us in our processes and we move forward with the things that do. And eventually that's going to allow us to be able to work remotely as well. You're making my heart beat faster than.
Speaker 8:
29:18
You really are because I just don't know how much I love to hear that and the fact that you're not say okay we're following this specific process are doing this.
Speaker 6:
29:30
And this. It's like no we're taking the things that work and it sounds like you're being ruthless about throwing out the things that don't work. Mash up is to me what every organization should be doing.
Speaker 8:
29:39
Yeah. Yeah. It's so cool and what's really awesome about this and goes back to the DIY punk rock thing is that we're not afraid of sampling. I mean maybe we are a little bit timelike but we're still going to do it anyway you know.
Speaker 6:
29:53
Yeah but how are you going to. Are you really going to fail. You know what I mean. All right. So the kind of failure that will kill you. Now since you don't do any user testing what kinds of evidence or insights or investigation are you dealing with to sort of inform the decisions you make.
Speaker 8:
30:12
Well we do have a small data team and we just started implementing AB testing and we brought on a content product donor who is fantastic and she's been doing a lot of tests for our home page and we're starting out really small like just within the last month and a more testing as well. And the culture itself we're very open to being wrong about our assumptions. At least I hope we are. So we get a lot of feedback from people and we try to listen to a lot of listening to different people in the company. So the leadership we listen to them we listen to other designers on the team we listen to our copywriters and we try to move from there.
Speaker 6:
30:59
Which is the way to do it right. Incremental testing is going to try this route. Watch it remeasured and we're in a course correct. It's adequate in the absence of face to face with users which by the way is not always absolutely necessary and you your proof of that. Then you have to do something. So again it's that sit on your hands and say well we don't have any access to end users. So what. Again I just I love hearing this stuff. I really do. How much you mention sales before him. One of the things that I see a lot in organizations that sort of blows my mind and I'm curious if it's been this way in the in your vision you work with nobody ever talks to a sales toady retorts to the sales people. They're never involved in X or design discussions.
Speaker 8:
31:50
And I cannot for the life of me understand what happens all the time. Yeah yeah. They complain that I would hear from sales people. Why do you think that is. We get to around our own little bubble I think we get very used to who we're working with on the team and we get comfortable and sort of in a little bit of a bubble and it almost becomes where we are corporate and they in the store. And one of the things about where I'm at right now is that the store is in you know we're all together. We've got other stores but where we work is right now in a store. So we get we have access to you know the product and you know we can actually see the customers and go out and talk to the sales people as well.
Speaker 6:
32:31
So your offices are literally right in the store like maybe on top of that on top of that.
Speaker 8:
32:36
Yes. Wow that's fantastic. It's really cool.
Speaker 6:
32:39
It's fantastic. I mean so you're so you're seeing that you have the opportunity lots of in lots of ways to see real time what's going on.
Speaker 8:
32:46
Yeah. And access to the salespeople whenever we need them. How valuable is that access to extremely valuable and we have a customer care center on site. Those guys are amazing too because they are fielding all the off calls from customers. They are fielding all the delivery calls. All those things so all the pain points since friction that people would experience a lot for us and we have somebody on our team has worked very closely with them. So we get a lot of feedback from them as well as as well as the head of sales in terms of user experience in terms of customer experience.
Speaker 6:
33:25
Right. And in your environment now and again you can lean on what you've done in the past as well in answering this How important do you feel and or have you seen that transparency is between the company and the customer in other words where the customer doesn't feel like there is a shell game being played here. You know that that you're not just after their wallets.
Speaker 8:
33:50
Yes. Yeah I think I'm going to go back in time a little bit. When I was working with CompUSA I was working with doing a lot space planning with them. So there's signage and the way they merchandise things and making a sellable environment. There was a culture there where we almost never really wasn't in the stores. While we had access to our little team had access to the stores and whenever we designed we would actually bring into the stores as we set up so we had that connection. And I got to talk to some of the sales people. And my husband even works for the sales team. And the common refrain throughout the whole sales team was that nobody listens to us. Nobody cares. And eventually they went out of business.
Speaker 6:
34:37
Yeah well they would go Yeah. So it's very important. I mean I agree with that. What sparked that is listen you talk and I recently had an experience where I just bought a new mattress. All right here's here's here's the exciting part of turning 50 in your backaches sorts of things is that you're thinking about your birthday coming up for ET and you're like oh it's my birthday. How about a minute.
Speaker 9:
35:01
How exciting is that.
Speaker 6:
35:06
Well I'm live and living the dream here. But but I had an experience at sleep number. Yeah right. I went to the sleep store and I lay down in this bed and it feels fantastic doing me wrong. I mean it really was something the way that it adjusts and they run me through all the different models and I test things out and I'm really really really impressed. Yeah. And then I start asking questions about the warranty because they tell you while we have a 25 year war. What I find out is that it's really not a 25 year war right. It is a two year warranty. Oh and from year 3 to year 21 you pay 30 percent of any repair and replacement costs. Now no one part costs upwards of 900 dollars and the labor required is maybe a couple hours this is not a good deal. And then from year 21 to 25 you pay like 60 percent.
Speaker 8:
36:06
Sneaky right.
Speaker 6:
36:07
So not only is it sneaky but here's what that tells me that tells me the company is taking a calculated risk OK between years three and 25 stuff is going to break out. All right that's why that policy is the way it is. And they don't tell you that until you really start digging and asking questions. You have to get three or four Well it's a prorated warranty but it's the best warranty in the industry right. And I had to keep asking to get to the truth. And I thought OK here's the opportunity for user experience customer experience where even if they were just upfront about that you know clearly transparently wrong. My impression of the whole experience might have been very different. Right. No why it is. And I see a lot of the same thing in retail in particular you know these these sales the specials that get run and when you really look into how it works it sounds like buy one get one free or it sounds like get 40 percent off and then you look into it and it feels like well we're still going to take you for a ride here and make you think you're getting a deal.
Speaker 6:
37:12
Yeah. And that doesn't seem to want to die. So to what degree of you experience that fought that struggled with it only all the time.
Speaker 8:
37:24
Even here we struggle with that because it's a culture it's it's sort of ingrained old school way of doing things. It is hard. It's hard to break that culture. You know it's hard to learn these things and come from a different mindset when you're really thinking about people first rather than trying to make a buck. So yeah. Every job I've had I've experienced that and usually I'm the one who's questioning it and it can be a hard battle to fight.
Speaker 6:
37:54
Out of curiosity do you feel like there are any reasons you know from the other side of the argument that makes sense to you where you sort of understand why they're clinging so tightly to this this sort of traditional misdirection kind of thing that they do.
Speaker 8:
38:09
You know I want to I want to say that my perception is that they're kind of stuck in a we've always done it this way. Yeah. So I think it's habit I do. I really do. And it's been working for them kind of for so long why change it. You know even though there are people who are buying from you are changing their habits or buying or changing and they're getting smarter.
Speaker 6:
38:38
Yes. That always that always feels like playing not to lose yet instead of playing to win. Yes right. I mean because you think well you know we've we've done pretty well in that and for the most part you know nobody calls us on it. And I don't mean in a mean deceptive way. I mean it's just sort of it's sort of safe. That's what's known. And they said well it's worked it's delivered this and and I'm sure you find yourself in the same position in those conversations I find myself being the person that says Yeah but what if you could do better than that. What if you could do three times the business simply by getting rid of this little part. That really isn't cost you that much in dollars and cents and would go a million miles and making people feel like you're being honest with them.
Speaker 8:
39:23
Yeah I feel like that's what our team is trying to do every day. We've got our own little battles that we fight. And something I've experienced with and this is a pretty decent sized company and you know a company like Office Depot which is even bigger when that code of practice gets spread out in an organization that big. It's it's like playing a game of Whack a Mole because it's endemic. It's rooted in system and it's you get your battles wisely. Yeah. Well shit. Right. Or else when you get tired.
Speaker 6:
39:57
Yeah there's only so much energy to go around. Oh there's so much energy around me. I get e-mails all the time right. Five percent off up some 5 percent.
Speaker 4:
40:08
Are you serious. I'm not even moving out of this chair for five months. You know 10 percent. Like who cares. Playing it safe me a break.
Speaker 6:
40:19
You got 300 percent mark WGME 10 percent. Yeah I think there's an entire cross-section of people consumers who just don't buy that anymore. Not at all. So I understand you're still making X amount on those deals but you can't tell me that they're returning the same way they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago. Right I have never seen evidence of that.
Speaker 8:
40:40
I think the cool thing with e-commerce in general and being on the team that I'm with right now is that having the ability to test our assumptions goes a long way and we're able to do things that are sort of different from what everyone else is doing and what we can test and see if it works. You know we've got someone like I want to push this 10 percent or whatever and we're like no that's not going to get anyone going. Let's try this. We do have the ability to do that. It's a great thing. Yeah that's fantastic.
Speaker 6:
41:08
And then we should show them the results and that's how change happens because you have the opportunity to put it out there and then pull it back equally as quick. Absolutely. You know no matter how it goes that's true. I mean when you think about traditional brick and mortar retail what it takes.
Speaker 7:
41:24
We're used to tech pre internet. Yeah the robotic campaign like that or you know to test promotion. Right. Lord.
Speaker 8:
41:34
Massive effort.
Speaker 6:
41:36
Yeah sure is massive effort out of curiosity and we're probably hammering this topic a little bit. That's OK. Out of curiosity what's the difference in business between your online e-commerce and your in-store retail. In other words whereas the majority of your revenue coming from and how is that shifting is it changing.
Speaker 8:
41:58
Yeah it is shifting. I think the majority is coming and I'm not a numbers person but I do believe the majority is coming from the stores because they've been around for a really long time and they do quite well. But e-commerce were catching up last month. We we consider ourselves a store too and we beat out all the other stores. Wow. So the ticking upward.
Speaker 6:
42:22
It fantastic. What the reason I'm curious about that is because of the nature of what you sell. Yeah right which is the furniture you Yeah pretty hard I think. I think there's still a general reluctance to buy certain types of products online sight unseen.
Speaker 8:
42:38
Yeah it's interesting because there are some French companies like Jaybird I think they're exclusively online so they're targeting a market that's much more comfortable buying large you know things like that on line. And then there's Wayfair and they are all digital now they're opening up their first brick and mortar store I think in Kentucky experimenting with a real store as well.
Speaker 6:
43:04
I'd be curious to learn why that is because one of the things that always strikes me about online only businesses you have to deal with shipping and return. Yeah and by and large there are a couple large organizations we have trained people to not want to pay for the expense. If I get something and there's a problem with it or I don't like it I want to be able to send it back to you. And I do not want to have to pay. Exactly a very much out of the box. So I'm curious if there's if there's an element of that for them where they're saying you know what we can to cut down on some of this churn. If they can't be Amazon and I know whether they can't or can't I don't know much about Wayfair. Yeah but I'm really curious.
Speaker 8:
43:47
And now Amazon selling furniture and mixes it up a bit right.
Speaker 6:
43:53
I mean I just told you what mattress shoppers were. You talk these online companies and they're saying they will ship it to your house and sleep on it for 100 days and 365 days in one case. Right. And if you don't like it we'll come get it.
Speaker 10:
44:06
Yeah and you pay nothing. Yeah. It's incredible.
Speaker 6:
44:09
It isn't really it's absolutely incredible but it's the right tack. OK. Whether or not these companies survive I really firmly believe it's absolutely the right approach. You are removing every possible barrier for someone to take the leap.
Speaker 8:
44:23
Yeah. And I think another thing I heard from a friend and also read online a company like joy where they give you free swatches. So if you're thinking of buying this particular sofa and it's making you nervous right. Well I don't know how I feel about buying some not mine. I don't know how it's going to look and feel. You get the swatches delivered to your house and you can it looks like and it's yielded more a sense of comfort apt to make that purchase.
Speaker 6:
44:49
Absolutely fantastic. I mean I think about I'm going back to music now I think about buying records. Right. Way back when Red records and cassettes there was no try before you buy in any way. No. Right. You mean you looked at the album art you went OK guys. Pretty cool. I think I'm going to take this home. And sometimes you won and sometimes you didn't.
Speaker 4:
45:10
I did that all the time. It was one of my things to do at mine too. Were you ever a bargain bin person. Oh absolutely.
Speaker 8:
45:18
I look in the market stores you'd always find me and you know some record store in Cambridge. Absolutely.
Speaker 6:
45:25
I can remember going on a field trip in grade school and we went to some mall for some reason and I really don't know why. But what I remember being late for the bus leaving because I was in like Musicland or one of these these mall stores and they had a big like an industrial drum sized container that was just full of cassettes. Right. And you literally had to put your body in there and just sort of dig through and see what was in there because they were all like a dollar or two dollars.
Speaker 3:
45:55
Yeah. And that's the I'm that guy I've always been that guy I'm in there I'm Degan right. And I remember they came onto the look. What are you doing.
Speaker 6:
46:04
And like looking for music it's important for them. But the experience I think is part of that. The anticipation is part of that.
Speaker 8:
46:15
The risk reward is part of that. Yeah the discovery you might discover something awesome.
Speaker 6:
46:22
Yeah. Yeah. On the heels of that do you feel the same now that music is digital now and it's so accessible now that you can preview so much of it on your phone on your laptop or your everywhere. Has any of the mystery or excitement of that experience changed for you as a going out.
Speaker 8:
46:40
No I don't think so. I really have a Spotify account which I love. And they have a feature it's MTV mix or weekly and you click on that and just sort of take up sense everything you've been listening to and it offers up new things and I'm constantly being surprised by something I've never heard before. I just love that feature.
Speaker 6:
47:00
Yup same here. I mean I do the same thing.
Speaker 8:
47:03
I listen to them and they tell me hey check out this band on my right.
Speaker 6:
47:07
Yeah I just feel for my personal opinion is I feel like people who say well there's no there's no good music anymore there's nothing new there's nothing like are you kidding me.
Speaker 4:
47:15
So much good stuff out there.
Speaker 6:
47:18
It's an incredible it's an incredible time to be alive. It's wonderful. And as you know as it may feel it we're getting off on it on a tangent here but that is the same as everything else we do in terms of user experience no matter who we do it for. Yeah right. Part of what we're doing is enabling connective experience where the action and reaction deliver something of sustained value of joy of experience of yeah I want that or wow I didn't know this even existed or I didn't know this could do that or right. I mean it's all the same stuff.
Speaker 8:
47:54
Yeah. It's all fun. It should be fun right. Absolutely.
Speaker 6:
47:58
Absolutely. It's not fun why we don't actually. Amen to that. So we are getting to the close of our hour. So now it is time for me to make your life difficult.
Speaker 3:
48:10
All right. It's an end.
Speaker 6:
48:14
These are what I call hotseat questions. And it's just you know meant to give people a little more insight into you as a person. So question number one for you Kristen is what does a hidden talent that no one knows you have to. The clock is ticking.
Speaker 8:
48:37
Ok so I'm really good at painting houses. Yeah I spent a summer as a house painter in New England and I'm really great with the paint brush my arse. OK. What kind of are you. A lot of scratch board work very detailed realistic drawings of heroic women. Wow. Yeah I'm a little OCD I think all of us designers are but you use an Exacto and I scratch into this board and you know I'm basically etching into it and making it work. I work pretty big too.
Speaker 11:
49:10
That is awesome. Is your work online where you can see it.
Speaker 8:
49:14
Yeah I've got a Web site so that euro is oh Kristin Courrier dot com.
Speaker 6:
49:19
OK. That is awesome. I went to school with some folks who were really into scratch it. Yeah work and they did the same way you're describing with an exact knife. All the detail I've always been in love with the level of detail and scratch for it was never really very good at it. I really wanted to be. Yeah I know I'm a parenting guy for the most part and sculpture. But scratch board impresses the hell out of me and I totally love looking at it. That is very cool. That is very cool. What is something that you believe about you X or design or anything connected to the work that you do or have done something you believe that a lot of people you encountered don't agree with.
Speaker 8:
50:07
Oh that's a tough one. And I know when any of you going to ask me that one because I really can't think of anything I feel OK. So here's a little I know this is dipping back into the controversy of designers calls it go whatever but I do believe that designers should know a little bit of code maybe they don't have to code you know legitimately they don't have to be a coder but they should know how it works. They should know how to speak to the developers and how to build a relationship with them. And it helps to know that why I think it informs you as a better designer or you have a designer on the team. I do know how to code. We hired a designer who does not know how to code. And she's exceptional Malala stuff you're seeing on our home pages because of her. And the more she works with our developer and the more she learns like how he does things and designing to his grid and how it's going to look to tablet and mobile. The more the better she becomes as a designer and she doesn't know what he's doing she does that Sadhana understand it right. How it works.
Speaker 6:
51:13
Yes it's similar to a situation where okay if I'm a print designer I need to understand something about how it goes down on paper on a printing press. Exactly right if you understand the output you understand how to design properly for it. Right. And I totally agree with that. I mean I've always agree with that. Here's here's one of my favorites because it's so hard and someone turned it on me once and I hated it.
Speaker 4:
51:38
You're on a desert island and America right.
Speaker 6:
51:42
I love it and for reasons that defy the natural order of things you have electricity. You can either have a movie or a piece of music that you have to listen to you know from now until eternity until you and everything else turns to dust. What's it going to be. Pick a movie or in your case a piece of music.
Speaker 8:
52:12
All about this and I decided on Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. Yeah Kango rock you just. It's my go to every time and I didn't like jazz when I was younger. It drove me crazy reliance on turn me on onto that album that much as ever since.
Speaker 6:
52:31
Wow. Why didn't you like it when you were younger or were better. Question What did you what are you hearing when you were younger that turned you off.
Speaker 8:
52:41
It's hard to say. I think it just it was too slow or it was just too noodling for me and it was just too advanced I guess maybe maybe maybe my ear wasn't acclimated to it just weren't really soulful noisy annoying. Interesting.
Speaker 4:
52:59
But now you love it. I absolutely love it though. That's a hell of a pick. I'm staring at it right in front of me in my office.
Speaker 6:
53:08
I've got a rack that my father a wooden record rack that my father built. And the first three. It's like three stacked shelves. Here's what's in front of each shelf. At the very top. Miles Davis Kind of Blue. Second is a love supreme. John Coltrane. The third is John Coltrane Stellar Regions which is a an exploration into the absolute far limits of what music can play. So it's killing me that it was your that that was your choice and it's right here it's right in front of me.
Speaker 8:
53:44
It's yeah just a beautiful piece of music. It's just a well balanced and it just reminds me of how what I'd like to achieve as a designer you know just not trying too hard and just flowing and all the pieces to the right spots.
Speaker 6:
54:00
Yeah and I agree with that. It's as a recording it's just astoundingly natural. Yeah it's just it's just is everything is exactly what hurts has to be the negative space I had.
Speaker 8:
54:14
It's not appropriate to use music like the pauses right walls so beautiful as well.
Speaker 6:
54:21
Right. Amen. You know I think the parallel there to design in particular is massive. Yes. Awesome awesome choice awesome choice. All right. I'm going to ask you one more question Tom which is also one of my favorites. At 49. Now being this far along in your career having had lots of experience lots of good lots of bad lots of otherwise I'm sure you can if you could give your younger self just starting out OK and your in your career. One piece of advice what would it be.
Speaker 8:
54:55
Oh boy. Piece of advice that is a tough one.
Speaker 6:
55:02
Yes it is. I don't know.
Speaker 8:
55:02
You know Kristen 20 years ago I worked with a lot of people who are 20 years younger than me right now I'm probably the oldest one on the team and if I could give them any to go and then they're brilliant. These are some of those brilliant people I've ever worked with.
Speaker 10:
55:18
Change. Get comfortable with it.
Speaker 8:
55:20
It's going to happen you know be willing to listen to people talk outside of your scope you know get outside of your bubble and talk to other people if you don't like how something is working you don't understand why somebody is doing something go and ask questions.
Speaker 6:
55:35
Don't just assume you think that they think that kind of thing is universal and related to age.
Speaker 8:
55:43
Yeah I think it goes both ways. I could see that yeah absolutely everyone is guilty of doing are human.
Speaker 6:
55:49
Yeah Janet sort of seems like I always wonder what it is that everybody has to go through that process for themselves before they before they sort of get to know what that is we can't we can't just take the advice when it's given. You know I don't know why that is.
Speaker 10:
56:05
I thought about it and I think people just get used to how they want to be right and they want to be in control. And they also don't want to look bad if they're wrong. You know so that sort of set you up to keep you in your bubble. You've got to be a little. You have to be willing to break outside of that be willing to be wrong be willing to look a little messy.
Speaker 7:
56:31
Amen to that. Now on that note I think we're going to call it it because it doesn't get any better than that. Seriously I think it's an excellent piece of advice.
Speaker 6:
56:42
It's something that a lot of people spend the majority of their lives trying to get to. Yeah. And it's it's a worthy battle it's a worthy climb.
Speaker 8:
56:50
It's courageous really when you don't do it yourself to do it. Yeah absolutely yeah.
Speaker 6:
56:57
Chris and I cannot thank you enough for your time today. This was wonderful.
Speaker 8:
57:00
Thank you so much for everything you do for all of us.
Speaker 11:
57:03
I appreciate that you were very welcome and understand that I learn as much from all of you as you are for me and probably more. Thank you. All right. Have a great rest of the day. Have an awesome weekend. All right. And go forward confidently. Thank you Joe. All right Chris and take care bye bye bye.
Speaker 1:
57:20
That wraps up this edition of making us work. Thanks for listening and I hope hearing these stories provide some useful perspective and encouragement. Along with the reminder that you're not alone. Before I go I want you to know that you can find show notes and links to the things mentioned during our conversation by visiting give good you X.com slash podcast. You'll also find links to more Eurex resources on the web and social media along with ways to contact me if you're interested in sharing your own story here.
Speaker 2:
57:50
Until next time this is Jonah totally reminding you that it's people like you who make us work.