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HTC Ultrapixels vs. Megapixels: Where Experience Design and Marketing Clash

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HTC’s latest flagship smartphone, called the HTC One goes against the megapixel trend in smartphone cameras. They have introduced the new Ultrapixel Camera in the HTC One that promises to achieve better pictures with a 4 megapixel camera than the competing flagships from Apple and Samsung with higher megapixel specs. They have decided to focus on actual image quality. While this is noble and certainly could benefit the HTC customer, it could be a big challenge in the sales and marketing department.
 
The Megapixel Myth
When we Product Planning Pros market a new phone, we always want to promote some differentiating features so that the phone stands out in the crowd. Sometimes, we have to include certain features as ‘entry tickets’ just so the market will recognize it as a credible contender for the market’s mighty buck. Since camera phones entered the scene in 2005, the push has been for ever-higher pixel counts. For a while you wanted to claim a megapixel camera, then it needed to be more megapixels, and now, 5 to 8 megapixels is the entry standard in smartphones, with some offering up to 41 megapixels.
 
Many in the mobile device industry, including prominent reviewers and bloggers, have pointed out that there is more to a camera than the megapixel count. Yet, that is exactly the main thing that has been marketed to consumers. Like clock speed or cores in processors, more megapixels sounds like more to the consumer. What other information do they have when they visit their local shop to compare phones.
 
Is Ultrapixel a Better Camera?
The first distinguishing factor is the pixel size in the image sensor. It’s simple physics that a larger sensor can capture more light in less time given the same lens. So, HTC claims that each ‘pixel’ in the sensor collects 300% more light than certain competing 13 megapixel cameras.
 
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Second, the Ultrapixel camera achieves the largest aperture in the smartphone market at f/2.0 which is 44% more than iPhone 5’s f/2.4 aperture. Capturing more light overall means that the camera will offer better contrast and color in low-light conditions and will show less blur when capturing fast action since the shutter speed can be faster. It also results in less noise in the image since more light is measured to even out the gaps.
 
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Another advantage touted by HTC is the ISP (Image Signal Processor) to fully accommodate real-time video and image processing. Since there are less pixels, it is easier to achieve the processing throughput to keep up with the signals coming in from the camera. This means the camera can capture full-size images in the video capture without compression or other lossy techniques that degrade the image.

 
So, if we ignore megapixels for a second, we can see that this camera module is more in line with a compact digital camera than even the best camera phones. The pixel size and the aperture both set it apart from most smartphone cameras. It remains that the biggest downside is that it doesn’t compete on megapixels.
 
Will It Matter?
Megapixels matter according to most of the consumer research that I’ve been privileged to participate in or review. Most consumers are familiar with the term and equate it with a better camera. In fact, most consumers don’t differentiate the megapixel camera rating from the video capabilities, which is definitely recorded at a much smaller resolution (Full HD video is only about 2 megapixels).
 
The extreme megapixel example in the market was the Nokia 808 with a 41 megapixel camera. Nokia used the megapixels to deliver oversampled images (combining data from multiple pixels into one in the final image) and to allow for a better digital zoom experience. The reviews for that camera were pretty strong overall, with little complaint about the image quality, and much exposure due to the extreme megapixel rating.
 
Marketing Reset
I think that HTC recognizes the uphill battle they are taking on and have decided to try for a marketing reset for the camera. They seek to re-frame the customer’s decision process regarding smartphone camera expectations.
 
Their marketing reset starts with the Ultrapixel Camera name for their solution to sound like it’s better than the standard megapixels that other cameras offer. They have created a website to explain the camera and are trying to educate the consumer about their design efforts. I have also seen some mainstream press already discussing Ultrapixel as a departure from the megapixel myth, so likely they have executed a solid PR effort to achieve that.
 
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Finally, they have paired the updated camera with their HTE Zoe shooting mode. The Zoe shooting mode captures up to 3 seconds and 20 full-scale images by pressing the shutter once. The photo gallery will animate the Zoe captures after a short delay so you get an active gallery with more pizzazz than a typical smartphone grid. Finally, the phone can group them into highlight videos with a selection of themes and it’s easy to share any of this created content to social networks. So, they have tried to emphasize more than just raw picture quality in their value proposition for the Ultrapixel Camera as part of the HTC One.
 
Missed Opportunities?
I think that HTC could have done even more to emphasize the experience advantages of their Ultrapixel camera configuration. Ultimately, their website ends up trumpeting f-stop and pixel size as the new specifications to compare, but consumers are already trained that megapixels matter. For example, they should put the low-light and motion capture performance advantages more to the forefront. I fully expected to see some comparisons on their website showing similar images with and without the Ultrapixel sensor. They should show images of the same scene taken with HTC One vs. competitive flagship smartphones.
 
HTC should, and still could, tap into the social network community with photo contests on Instagram or Flickr featuring low light or motion capture as the theme.
 
Finally, they could have invoked some brand or celebrity to endorse their efforts. If they were to attach a popular camera brand or a popular photographer’s name to the effort, that could help them offer credibility to the consumer that they can relate to instead of f-stop and pixel sizes. They have had success with this approach by partnering with Beats for their audio solution.
 
Drew’s Conclusion
I think that HTC has made a decision to follow the path of designing for the customer experience, followed with the best marketing efforts they can deliver. I hope that the market is ready and receptive to a change from valuing cameras only on megapixel ratings. The whole smartphone industry would be better for it.
 
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Taco Ocho: Experience Design Wins and Losses

I love tacos! I’m a Texan, so that shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. Foursquare has rewarded me for exploring the Mexican food category above all others. As such, I’m always on the lookout for a great taco place and pretty judgmental about my taco options. Today, I lunched at Taco Ocho in Richardson with Michael (blogs at MuCraft ) and finally tried the eighth taco flavor that I hadn’t tried before.

Taco Ocho is a locally-owned shop in a small commercial strip center near the office. I have been going there pretty regularly for about a year and a half since they opened in the late spring of 2011. It is definitely among my favorite taco shops and I have frequently run into friends there or encounter a nearly full dining room, so it seems pretty popular.

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Approach and Navigation
Taco Ocho has a very tried-and-true structure to greet customers once arriving at the restaurant. There is an open corner location with windows across the front, allowing a peek inside and plenty of light once entered. For a first visit, I really want to see inside and know that I won’t be surprised or feel trapped once I’m inside the shop. They have a handrail to separate the line on the left as you come in the entrance, so it is very obvious where to enter the line. A large board menu is above the counter, making it fairly easy to start making some selections. There could be some better signage to help entice and direct first time visitors with a bit more sense of what the experience will be.

The left wall has a large mural of a Spanish mission with sunrays that provides a hint of the Latin cultural basis for the restaurant and also a bold and lively precedent to the experience.

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Menu
Taco Ocho has divided their menu into 3 simple categories:
Tostadas – Vegetarian “salads” served on a flat, crispy corn tortilla base
Tacos – Flour or corn tortillas filled with meat and/or veggies
Tortas – Latin grilled sandwiches made with bollilo bread

Each category offers eight (or, ehm, ocho) pre-defined combinations. This is a pretty balanced number of options, allowing for some choice but not overwhelming even on the first visit. The drink options are pretty limited with a few bottled sodas, fountain drinks and tea. I was glad to discover crushed ice from the dispenser – always a bonus in my book.

Learning Curve
The simple approach and the limited menu makes a pretty shallow learning curve for Taco Ocho. You won’t struggle to avoid standing out as a newbie, even on the first visit. Plus, most of the choices are good, so feel free to experiment and try. They will even offer suggestions if you ask.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much depth to the menu or experience. I always get 2 tacos, and enjoy mixing among the choices. However, since there is very little room for customization or personalization, there doesn’t seem to be much depth to discover here on repeat visits. Today, I completed my sampling of tacos, so I have nothing left to explore there.

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Immersion & Place
I think Ocho has an interesting place. The restaurant has mostly modern ‘industrial’ decor with metal chair, flat white tables, pendant lights, a red brick wall, and concrete floors. The food itself has deep latin and Mexican roots, but also has that same sense of modernism, with refried black beans, rice seasoned with cilantro and corn, and small light tortilla chips the standard sides for a taco plate. Overall, I think that Taco Ocho achieves it’s ‘mission’ in the interior design, providing a modern, trendy feel.

The decor has a couple of drawbacks that seriously diminishes the immersion of the experience. First, on multiple occasions, I have sat is a spot directly under the air conditioner vent and it is blowing a strong current across my food and me. I have even changed seats to avoid this during summer months. Second,they use pagers to let you know when the food is ready. This is a small place and I wish they would just bring food out so that I don’t have to interrupt and get back up to fetch food. Finally, with all of the hard surfaces and tight tables, the noise level is excruciating during most lunchtimes. It’s not a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a thoughtful conversation. Each time, I’m anxious to get up and go as soon as I finish eating. On the surface, this may seem to serve Ocho’s interests in freeing a table, but I would argue that I’m more likely to skip it over on a day that I’m not up for the noise and it costs them my business at times. Each time, I’m as happy to leave, hearing the door close and experience the relative quiet of a busy street, as I was to arrive.

As a professional in product design, I notice that this is a specific use case that they have neglected. They have done a great job on the food and visual decor, but the practical value of relaxed comfort while there has been neglected or overlooked by the owner. Maybe they didn’t consider that they are not just offering food, but for many, a social experience with their friends or family.

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Predictability & Variety
Taco Ocho definitely leans more toward predictability than variety. I have tried all of their tacos and have liked all of the choices, but definitely have my favorites. Latin Love has shredded beef, refried beans, and fried plantains. I love the sweet and savory taste of this taco on corn tortilla and order it almost every time. It’s only flaw is that it almost always is runny and a bit messy (unless it’s too dry which is worse). Chicken Elote is smoked chipotle chicken with corn, cheese and cilantro. This one sounded mundane, but I really like the balance of spices in the chicken. Cabo Fish is beer-battered or grilled fish with jicama slaw and a chipotle cream sauce. Hard to beat a tasty fish taco like theirs.

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The variety is harder to come by unless you are happy between the 3 options they have. I have only ordered tacos so far, and definitely want to try some of the others, but I wish that I could mix up some of the options to create some taco choices of my own. Or, failing open options, I wish that Ocho would offer special features from time to time to keep things fresh and interesting. It seems they are strong on the ‘taco’ and limited by the ‘ocho’.

They do have special Mexico City Street Tacos on ‘Taco Tuesday’, but I haven’t tried them yet, so I need to make an effort to aim for that some week. Variety is definitely a miss for us fans that have been coming since the opening.

The Payoff
Whenever I evaluate a product or service from an experience perspective, I always ask, “What is the Payoff?” For Taco Ocho, this one is pretty easy. They offer a unique and tasty taco with enough variety to appeal to many tastes. They have room to improve their overall experience design and menu, but it still rates highly with me.

Have you been to Taco Ocho? What do you think?

Mailbox: A View of the App Hype from the Back of the Line

I’m number 755,235 in line, and I’m excited to be there. Already, 14,580 people have gotten in line behind me. This is the place to be!
What is the Mailbox App?
Mailbox is a new app created by Orchestra, Inc that promises to help you turn your email inbox into a task manager. Orchestra previously created a task manager that won Apple’s Editors Choice selection, but they observed that a great number of the tasks originated and were channeled back to email. So, they decided to reinvent the archane email inbox and add the task management functions directly into the mail client. There are 3 aspects that are exciting to me and the reason I must try it out myself.
1. Mobile-First experience
Mailbox has built their app as a mobile-first way to read and process email. They have some fancy data optimization and are creating quite a buzz just due to the responsiveness and quickness of the app to load emails and email threads that reportedly outpaces the Gmail and Apple Mail clients handily.
2. Quick processing
You can quickly swipe emails to send them on to the archive. This is huge if you ever hope to achieve and maintain the GTD goal of “Inbox Zero”.
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image from mailboxapp.com
3. Snooze
With just a swipe and tap, you can ‘snooze’ your emails away and they will return after your chosen interval. That will ensure that you will think of it again at a better time without clogging up the current inbox and ruining your “Inbox Zero” chances.
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image from mailboxapp.com
The bad
The biggest downside that I see is that they only support Google’s Gmail with an iPhone app for now. So, only that combination even gets to apply.
So, I know that this won’t really solve my email challenges. I’m already a happy subscriber to Sanebox for both my Gmail and my other primary email accounts. That service offers the ‘snooze’ function and automatically separates out less important emails into a daily digest. This has been a major time-saver for me, especially in cutting through a lot of the clutter with minimal training needed.
The Hype
I think that Orchestra has made a smart choice in having a live ‘line’ in the app. It has helped them manage the number of active users so that they control their rate of scaling up (to a degree). Also, it has generated word of mouth as new fans give their friends a heads-up to get in line as soon as possible. It’s hard to fight the sense of urgency when a new product or service is obviously limited in supply. In our long-tail digitized world, this doesn’t happen as often as it used to happen.
Care to join me in line? I’m now up to 754,880! Woot!

www.mailboxapp.com

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Infiniti’s Naming Pivot: The 2014 Infiniti Q50 and what it means for the brand

Infiniti recently announced it’s new Q50 sedan at the North America International Auto Show (Detroit). As a former owner of this model of sedan, I was very anxious to see what the new version would bring to the table. There is plenty, but the thing that has most captured my attention is the name. If you’ve never heard of Infiniti Q50, don’t feel left out because I hadn’t either. It is the new name for their G-series sedan.

 

    Infiniti Q50 front

 

What’s in a Name?
My car was a 2005 Infiniti G35 that I bought in 2005 and drove for almost 8 years, selling it just this past month. The G35 name helped identify where it fit in the Infiniti lineup. The G was smaller than the M or the Q and sat in the Near-Luxury segment. My G35 hosted a 3.5L 6-cylinder engine. More recent models were named G37 since the engine was upgraded to a 3.7L version. They also introduced an economy option for recent years named G25 with a smaller 2.5L engine. Thus, the number in the name helped identify how powerful the engine would be.

 

Why Q50? What does it mean?
It seems the effort is to simplify the naming for Infiniti models. All of the models will start with Q for cars and QX for SUV and Crossover models. The number will line up with the segment or pricing tier. Only the Q50 is formally announced so far. Most of the others will just receive a typical refresh along with renaming as they show up in their 2014 form. The chart below shows the current model name, segment and the future 2014 model name, in order of base model MSRP.

 

Infiniti Grid

 

What do I expect now?
From a branding and product naming perspective, I can see that they are correcting the misalignment of the FX-series currently which is priced higher than Gseries or JX-series which are named with higher letters. Also, I can’t help but notice that they are echoing the naming of some other luxury brands that have similarly moved away from engine displacement or cylinders in their naming conventions, such as Audi and BMW. The QX60 will be competing with the Audi Q6, the BMW X6, and the Volvo QC60. It’s pretty easy to see that the Infiniti naming will help reveal and reflect this matchup.

 

Is this decision made in the Office of Redundancy Department?
One of the things that bothers me is the use of Q for all of the models. I think they are trying to bring the goodwill that their Q-series sedan has enjoyed as the flagship to all of their models. The problem is that it now serves no purpose in distinguishing between the models. So only the ‘X’ and the numbers will help at all. So, the Q becomes redundant except as an identifier for Infiniti. Yet, Audi, Volvo, and others use Q in their own model names.

 

And, even the number is much less meaningful from a product perspective. It does help line the products up in order of price, but it tells you nothing of the powertrain or any other characteristic of the product.

 

I’m afraid that starting over with new naming scheme after 23 years of history will confuse customers. It will all just sound like a random series of letters and numbers to those who don’t take time to study the whole product line in context. In fact, I would rather see them use REAL names so that you can easily remember the name, share the name, talk about the name, and remember the name. Also, over time, names can evoke a past and heritage that initials and numbers struggle to convey. Names like “Stingray”, “Beetle”, “Cobra”, “Woodie” and many, many others instantly etch an image in the minds of us long-time auto enthusiasts. In mobile phones, we have rapidly tried to grab and use names to build brand recognition where there are new products every year. The auto industry has a lot of legacy and long product cycles, so names can build and grow over an even greater time.

 

How do they introduce new models?
It also seems that they have not left any room to add other models into the mix. What if they need to add one of the exciting concepts, like the Infiniti Etherea or Infiniti Emerg-E concepts from their website (see http://www.infiniti.com/us/models/future_models/). Currently, all of the models are separated by nice even multiples of 10 without gaps. That won’t last, so eventually they’ll end up with a messy spread of numbers. I would expect them to struggle not to oversell new models by implying a higher segment placement than they warrant.
Infiniti Etherea
Infiniti Etherea Concept

 

Infiniti EmergE
Infiniti Emerg-E Concept

 

Did they pivot in just name or also strategy?
I guess my real concern as I reviewed this, and captured my thoughts here, is that Infiniti is really changing their naming scheme so that they can change their product strategy. Infiniti has always been about performance and luxury. Thus, using the engine displacement in the model name helped distinguish an Infiniti from the competing models from other luxury brands. G35 was upgraded to G37 and you knew that the raw power also increased. An M56 has a measurable advantage over an M37 in performance. I understand the reality that cars are not just about raw horsepower or engine displacement anymore. There is much pressure to improve fuel economy and efficiency and Infiniti wants to capitalize on that trend. They plan to release as many as 15 hybrid models by 2016. I just hope they don’t lose the essence of their brand identity in the process.

 

Of course, the technology package that is featured in the new Q50 seems to be a good sign that there is plenty more to distinguish an Infiniti than just raw performance. The dual touch-screen center console interface looks like a step in the right direction. Bring on the future of Infiniti…

 

Infiniti Q50 interior


Please add comments or questions below!

Instagram “Feeds” Its Followers

Instagram has now made the feed accessible to the web. Check it out at http://www.instagram.com
You can see your normal Instragram feed along with comments much as in the mobile app.
Instagram on the big screen
The first thing that I notice is that the display on my laptop is much bigger than my phone. This is both good and bad. The flaws in the image are much more apparent, but you can more fully enjoy a truly epic shot. I think overall this is a net plus vs. the phone experience.
Keep Your Comments In-line
Similar to the mobile interface, the poster’s first comment and a few of the most recent comments are displayed below the image. This is a good alternative to forcing an expand to see comments or listing all comments in line. You get a flavor for the interaction, but can scroll on by without a challenge.
Like and Comment All You Want
The web interface makes adding a [heart] or comment to a photo about as easy as the mobile interface. You can click a nice-sized icon or double click the image to like it. A comment bar is always accessible below the current comments, so you can click there are start typing. Of course, for most of us, typing on the computer is much easier than entering comments from the phone, but adding emoji will be quite tricky.
Proper Profile Page
This one isn’t as obvious at first, since you will just be in a normal feed, but once you click on an Instagramers avatar, you will launch their profile page. This page is great. Much like the mobile version, it shows your avatar and your profile text, along with your number of photos, followers, and followings. Fortunately, the banner is more than just the text. Instragram creates a collage of your images that will slowly transition to different images in a grid pattern.
InfiniteEye Instragram Profile
This is a much better way to highlight an artist or user and I hope to see this in an IG update of the future for the mobile version.
How Will a WebFeed Impact the Community?
It seems that this is another example of Facebook effect on Instagram. I like that I can access from the web and it gives me a place to send people other than Tumblr or Flickr for my Instagram photos. Of course, on the other side, the community becomes just a little bit less cozy and intimate. I honestly miss the early days of Instagram and all of the community that was fostered by the mutual activity in their carefully confined garden. But, that hasn’t been the reality for awhile and certainly not since Facebook acquired the service. So, we might as well enjoy the convenience of having easier access to our feed and easier presence for our followers and new fans.
Check it out and let me know what you think. Will it change Instagram? Is it better than the mobile experience?

Whether on the Vine?

Vine in the News
Twitter’s new service, called Vine and found at vine.co (that’s “dot company”), is already making headlines today. It seems that they allowed an explicit video to be promoted into their “Editor’s Choice” list which is automatically placed into every users feed. Fortunately, it was stopped before I experienced that shocker.
I hope they figure out quick how to eliminate that possibility cause that’s a deal-breaker for me and my family. Especially since there doesn’t seem to be a great reason to invest time on Vine other than amusement (not that fun is bad).
The Vine blog introduced the service last week as follows:
Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special.
I hope that some more “people, settings, ideas, and objects” emerge beyond the focus on quirky and humorous that is the current trend. Not that i don’t enjoy shoes walking themselves or cats disappearing, but I think the service deserves to be more than that and needs to be to hold my attention long-term.
Experience on the Vine
From an experience perspective, they did some things very well. I really like the way that new videos are created. Like Instagram for photos, Vine succeeds in making video-creation accessible to the masses. To create a video, you simply hit the camcorder icon and are presented with the viewfinder. The camera records while you are touching the viewfinder and pauses if you let go. This continues until you fill 6 seconds (or quit sooner). So, you can easily catch small chunks and form something in moments. Then you see a preview of your video looping as it will on the service. At that point you can post or discard it. The only complaint here is that if you choose not to post, it won’t be saved to your phone gallery either. I took a short clip of my daughter at lunch that she didn’t want me to post, amd it’s gone forever.
Also, I like that you can scroll through a feed and the videos just start playing. Scroll down and another one loads quickly and starts playing. Vine did 3 things that really make the browsing snappy:
  1. Short, looping video = loads quickly and keeps playing
  2. No play button = the videos play immediately, draws you in immediately
  3. Endless page feed = scroll down and find another video
These design decisions work together to make the browsing pretty effortless and tends to make you scroll down for ‘just one more’ clip.
I think Vine will find an audience. I hope that there are some artistic, content, and community values that develop over time.

Find me on Vine as @DrewWilken or check my twitter feed. It’ll probably continue to have some Vine’s crawling about.

Finally Found Evernote, My Cloud of Words

I’m a frequent victim of the ‘cult of the new’. I’m constantly on the lookout for new apps or services that will make my life better (or at least seem so). I just discovered the value of Evernote this past week. I have seen Evernote mentioned countless times, and have even checked into it a couple of times, but was never sure how I’d make real use of it.

My understanding of Evernote in my previous looks was more aligned with the productivity and organization aspects. I resisted adding another productivity ‘tool’ that would ‘help’ me organize and track better. I have found that those apps tend to create rules that don’t mesh with my dynamic way of getting it done. Also, I really don’t want the chore of filing, distraction of more reminders, or overhead of checking things off the list. I got it wrong.

Along with starting this blog, I realized that I needed a way to really track my research, reading, and writing. So, I set out to find the ‘Dropbox’ of words. I am a fan of Dropbox and have used it with my family for a couple of years. It’s a great way to keep all of the files on different computers in sync and make sure they are available wherever you need to access them, including phones and tablets. Dropbox was my first real glimpse into the value of cloud services.

I checked evernote again and realized that it seems to be the cloud of words, with some organization and media capabilities added on. So, I’ve signed on, connected Zite, my favorite news reader, and started dropping articles into my Ever-notebook. I’ve also started keeping my list of blog ideas, and used it to author my blog entries.

So far, it seems to be the cloud of words that I was seeking. I have had to work out how to get the full articles into the notebook when sending from Zite and it takes a few extra steps, but otherwise it has been quite easy to work, has a simple way to organize into notebooks, and the tagging and search will hopefully help me find things long from now when I just want to refer back to something I know I saved somewhere.

I would love to hear from others that are using Evernote and please offer some tips for where and how to make the best use of it. Also, I’m using the free version, so I’m curious if others can share why they have chosen to upgrade or not.

Word!

My Lowe’s Step Up Experience

I spent the better part of my weekend painting, so I’m currently hurting. All over. After countless times up and down the ladder across 2 days, my muscles have rebelled, filled with lactic acid, and done their best to encourage me to hire out the job next time.

Yet, I have a good customer service story to share from the weekend. Lowe’s exceeded my expectations in a couple of ways.

First, we came in on a Saturday at noon to buy paint. I know better, but that’s just the way it worked out this time. I was able to gather all other painting supplies and select a ladder while my wife waited for our turn to order paint.

It was also nice to have some help in the tools section while shopping for a ladder. I was looking at another step ladder at 10 feet to reach the 12 foot ceilings, but lamenting that I already have (and store) a six footer and an eight footer. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could get by with an extension ladder since I’ll need one of those outside eventually anyway? Paul, a friend and frequent help in Lowe’s spotted me and, after hearing why I was looking on with bewilderment, suggested a combo ladder that can work as a step ladder or straighten out and work as an extension ladder. It was heavier to move around, but turned out to be perfect for the job. Incidentally, when I pulled up at the house later, I spotted my next-door neighbor had also just purchased the same ladder. I didn’t ask him, but I bet he also ran into Paul at our local Lowe’s

Paul also reminded me to make sure to scan a MyLowe’s card so that Lowe’s would have record of our exact paint color in case we needed more of it. I told him that I had a card but forgot to register it and don’t have it with me, so there is no way of matching it up. Paul helped me get signed up for a new card and registered right in the store, so I was fully ready to scan and go when I got to the checkout later. MyLowe’s seems a great way to help me, earn my loyalty, and encourage return trips to Lowe’s instead of a competitor. At least it’s not just another “loyalty” program that requires you to join if you want to get the regular price.

After the supply gathering and some more waiting, we had to make the always-tough decision of which paint to purchase. I told the clerk that I wanted paint without the primer since I’m just covering light-colored walls anyway. She answered that both grades of Valspar paint offered have primer, but the premium “Signature” paint has high definition color or some-such-advantage. I told her that that we didn’t need signature and waited for our paint to be ready. Fortunately, the remainder of the trip was relatively quick and efficient and we were headed home soon after.

We didn’t quite finish the job over the weekend, but got really close. As I wound down last night and surveyed the completed parts of the living room, I was grateful to Lowe’s for the good quality paint with primer. It had been a bit thicker to work with and seemed to need frequent refills into the paint buckets, but at the end, it was great to see that it provided great coverage with a single coat. So, as I crawled into bed last night, with achy muscles and sore feet from ladder duty, I was glad to know that I would probably not have to do it all again just to get the walls looking passable.

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Lowe’s chose to offer only an effective and high-quality option and I thank them for it. I know that, in product development, we are tempted to cover all the price points, but sometimes it’s best to just offer good stuff and let the customer enjoy a premium and satisfying experience. It was a pleasant surprise to me. Next time I may have to find out what that super saturation molecular color or some-such-advantage was all about. After all, as a consumer, I don’t even always know what I really am wanting, so I appreciate it when a company has found it and helps me discover it.

Pardon the bad pun, but I really feel that Lowe’s got a step up on the competition this time. Nice!

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