Herman Miller: Influencing design with the voice of the customer

Summary

The company created a promotion to take place during the 2011 Cusp Design Conference, enabled by Bazaarvoice’s Question & Answer solution.

A promotional campaign “Life Unframed” of lifestyle designer, Yves Béhar, marked the first time designers and visitors co-collaborated on design functions.

  • 7.3% of event attendees submitted design questions and ideas-- a 143% higher than the average traditional response rate

“We’re always looking for new ways to engage with our customers and learn what’s on their minds,” according to Shannon Zonca, eCommerce Marketing Analyst for Herman Miller’s Retail business.

Question & Answer: Learning what’s important to customers and potential customers

Inspiration for Herman Miller’s iconic furniture designs comes from many sources, not the least of which is the company’s customer. Finding out what people who are passionate about design are interested in, what they like and what they’re thinking about is an ongoing priority for the company.

As part of this quest, members of Herman Miller’s eCommerce group teamed up with the company’s event marketers to create a special promotion to take place during the 2011 Cusp Design Conference, with Bazaarvoice Question & Answer solution as the promotions enabling technology.

The company invited Cusp’s 300 attendees to visit the company’s store online and ask the designer, Yves Béhar, designer of the popular SAYL Chair a question about the product. The idea was for the designer to select several questions to answer online, and pick one as the top question. Whoever asked that question would win a home office (including a SAYL chair) from Herman Miller.

The strategy worked! More than 7% of conference attendees asked questions and Herman Miller collected valuable information to use for future planning, along with a wealth of customer-generated content to post on its site.

Customer engagement and surfacing customers needs

“We’re always looking for new ways to engage with our customers and learn what’s on their minds,” according to Shannon Zonca, eCommerce Marketing Analyst for Herman Miller’s Retail business. “Tying in Question & Answer with a major design conference was a natural opportunity for that.”

Zonca was extremely pleased with the response rate for the promotion. To spark interest before the conference, Herman Miller sent an email to attendees detailing how to participate, and the conference organizers followed up with a printed handout. There was also a tie-in with the Discover and Lifework blogs at HermanMiller.com.

Of the approximately 300 Cusp participants, 22 submitted questions to Yves Béhar, designer of the SAYL Chair. The campaign achieved a 7.3% response rate, which is 143% higher than the average response rate to a post-interaction campaign for customer feedback.

The excellent response to the promotion afforded Herman Miller a valuable opportunity to learn more about its core audience’s concerns and opinions. The question – which was ultimately judged the winning one by Béhar – about sustainability in the design of the SAYL chair confirmed the belief that customers care deeply about the sourced materials in the designs of the Herman Miller products.

Selected questions for Béhar – along with his answers – continue to be featured on the SAYL page in the online store, where they provide useful information to site visitors.

What’s ahead? Pursuing more opportunities to engage in new ways

Herman Miller plans to use the Cusp promotion as a model for how it engages its audience going forward. The promotion marked the first time that the company had designers directly engaging with visitors to the Herman Miller Store. According to Zonca, the success of the effort has sparked a definite interest in pursuing opportunities to engage other designers with Herman Miller Store visitors.

Zonca believes the Question & Answer solution delivered the benefits Herman Miller was looking for from the Cusp promotion. “It gave us a new way to engage with our audience, learn more about them and get more customer-generated content on our site,” she explained.

About Herman Miller

Herman Miller works for a better world around you – with inventive designs, technologies and related services that improve the human experience wherever people work, heal, learn, and live. Its curiosity, ingenuity, and design excellence create award-winning products and services.

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