Build-A-Bear and Continuing the Experience

Page 74 of the book Priceless: Turning Ordinary Products into Extraordinary Experiences:Build-A-Bear (my kids love this place!):

…”checking out isn’t usually an experience people look forward to.” But at Build-A-Bear, you’re not just paying for a product… you’re continuing an experience.”

Checkout is where you receive the new toy’s birth certificate, and the bear condo – its cardboard carrying box. (I have three of these in my house!). It’s also where you part with your money. Build-A-Bear has built a “looking forward to” type of experience into the checkout time for the customer, so the experience of paying is seen as a positive one.

Build-A-Bear continues this experience online, too – they have created a “virtual dress up game” where you can dress your “new friend” in different clothing to see how the stuffed animal looks. So the theme of “building a bear” is continued from the physical store to the online website (and it also provides kids with a Christmas/birthday wish list to give to the grandparents :-)

Do my kids want to go again? You bet!

Can a library make “finishing a transaction” part of the online experience? I think so – here’s two ideas:

  1. My library has an online library card application form. After the form is filled out, something like a “thank you” page appears. That page could be transformed into more of a “now that you have a library card, you can do this” type of page that emphasizes resources like the catalog, remote access to databases, etc. This way, the experience of getting a library card isn’t finished by clicking Submit; instead, the new customer’s library experience can be continued by providing pointers to things the customer can do with his/her new library card.
  2. How about the Summer Reading Program most public libraries do? The usual practice is to provide lots of physical games, activities and giveaways in the actual library buildings, but online not much is offered – maybe nothing more than a paragraph or two about the program. Instead of quickly ending the online summer reading program experience with a paragraph of text, how about providing some online games and activities, too? This can be as complicated as Flash-based games, or as simple as an online quiz that kids turn in for more goodies. But either way, instead of ending the experience online, you’re continuing the experience by providing something to do.