Understanding the Consumer Experience: It's 'Good To Talk'
The consumers of the 21st Century can purchase goods and services by many off-site methods as well as by the 'traditional' mode of shopping in person. It is time to look again at the key feature that makes the traditional method popular for many consumers: the opportunity to mix with other people during the retail/service experience. This article reviews the extant literature on on-site consumer interactions, especially conversations consumers have with fellow consumers and employees. Out of the review, three inter-related strategic perspectives are proposed which store-based retail/service providers must take to compete for customer loyalty in the new millennium. They are: (1) view on-site consumers as a valuable (willing and able) human resource, (2) plan to facilitate consumer-to-consumer interactions and (3) accept some social responsibility for the quality of these interactions. There are still some significant gaps in our understanding of the social and communal elements of service experiences. A focus for future research is provided.