What’s a 50-Cent Hot Dog Got to do With Customer Experience?

client_8By Gabe Cohen

IKEA: some consider it heaven on earth; others have a more love-hate relationship with the Swedish big-box retailer. Regardless of where you land on the emotional spectrum, IKEA is one of the biggest global brands, welcoming over 716 million customers through its yellow and blue doors in 2014 alone. What most of us don’t know is that part of IKEA’s winning formula can be attributed to something incredibly simple and inexpensive…a 50-cent hot dog.

IKEA’s brilliant understanding of its customer journey enables the brand to pinpoint the precise moments where its customers are experiencing the highest amount of pain, such as checkout. It then proactively embeds a series of touch-point that attempts to remedy this issue as quickly as possible. Like a dentist who treats a child with a lollipop, the Swedish retailer rewards the weary shopper with 50-cent hot dog or a cone of soft serve ice cream at the end of their journey.

There are different ways in which organizations can manage the pain-pleasure gap. Mouse-eared revelers waiting in line to enter Disney World, are welcomed by Main Street, U.S.A.—the first and iconic “themed land” inside of Walt Disney’s Magical Kingdom. Seeing the joyous face of a 3-year old captivated by the “magic” of Disney is a sure way to rid any parent of any long wait.

Both Disney and IKEA deliver an excellent customer experience by interpreting brand and experience synonymously. By aligning teams under a unifying brand principle, these brands have been able to get outside of their departmental marketing silos to create a consistent and excellent customer experience. Using brands as a North Star, these organizations are able to create cross-functional teams that are aligned to a promise that can be consistently delivered across a kaleidoscope of touch points. For Disney, this means bringing together a cast of actors, production specialists, tour guides, designers, food service, marketing gurus, and IT teams together to create a “magical” experience.

Crushing customer experience is not limited to consumer-facing brands. A survey by Temkin Group of over 200 companies revealed that 63% of companies said they planned on using customer journey maps in 2015.


Rackspace, a cloud computing service based in San Antonio looks to turn a support call into a positive customer experience. It’s breathing vigor and passion into a customer journey that has historically been extremely painful.

Its approach coined in the experience principle of “fanatical support” is driven internally to engage employees who are key in delivering a refreshing and energizing experience in a category where customers spend the majority of their time listening to hold music.

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