The Velvet Principle

Want to Improve Your Customer Service?

Make Sure your Wayfinding is up to Snuff

Published on Friday 13 April 2018


Harking back to the recent Shopping Centre Management Conference again and in particular the focus on customer service. This was a recurring theme across several of the sessions and further endorsed by the event culminating in the presentation of the annual ACE awards that celebrate exemplar customer service delivered by shopping centre staff.

Clearly when it comes to delivering a high standard of customer care, shopping centre staff are at the core. But there are other things, as discussed in the April Edition of Shopping Centre Magazine – seating for older customers, ethical credentials (evidenced by the provision of car charging points and recycling bins), clean and fresh smelling toilets and the suitability of baby change facilities.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned during any of the sessions or within the article was wayfinding.  The importance of wayfinding as a component of a shopping centre’s customer service delivery is something I’ve referred to in a previous post (although it was more from a cost benefit analysis point of view).

But it’s worth another airing. In the preamble to describe why each ACE contender deserved an award, most involved an interaction with a customer or mystery shopper with a wayfinding query. If responding to wayfinding queries is used as a benchmark to assess customer service performance, it suggests that they occur pretty regularly.  

Generally speaking we don’t actively seek to engage with strangers as we go about our everyday business. So having to resort to tracking down a member of staff for help finding a particular retailer or facility could be said to be a customer service failure. And what about those occasions when there isn’t a member of staff around to provide the answers? Research has shown that feeling lost will result in negative arousal, making it more likely that shoppers will head for the exit.

Certainly within the UK we expect static wayfinding information to be provided within public spaces to help us navigate. With the pervasiveness of smartphones we’re used to having information at our fingertips … and are becoming less tolerant about waiting for things. 

So if you’re serious about delivering a high standard of customer service to shoppers, you need to include wayfinding information in the mix. Just having wayfinding signs present isn’t enough. The scheme needs to be designed with the customer in mind and the information presented in a way that can be easily understood and acted on.  That all sounds obvious and simple enough, but the reason that wayfinding has emerging as a specialist design discipline, is that obvious it may be, but simple it is not.

So the message to shopping centre managers is – if you’re embarking on a programme to improve customer service, make sure that you get a wayfinding consultant in to review the performance of your wayfinding information.

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