Tag Archives: Copenhagen

Could electronic agents improve customer experience in a cafe?

Script is a stereotyped sequence of activities. A good example of the script is for restaurant dining. We are greeted by a server who guides to a table, we receive a menu from a server, and the server takes our orders. Drinks arrive first and then meals arrive later. When we finish meals, we pay the bill at the cashier and leave the restaurant.

Marketers and designers use scripts to improve customer experience. We often assume the fewer activities customers perform in the restaurant, the more they are satisfied. Therefore, we hire more part-time servers. Alternatively, we try to design an unmanned store by installing vending machines or robots to automatize in-store activities.

Different from our assumptions, however, restaurant customers could be happy about doing everything by themselves. I found this when I met a friend at one of the Rainmaking cafe in Copenhagen, Denmark. Rainmaking is a corporate innovation and venture development firm.

When I entered the cafe, a refrigerator greeted me. No one was inside. I soon realized I should do everything by myself in this cafe. I picked up a beverage, paid it using my mobile phone, grabbed a table with my friend, and then cleaned up the table when leaving.

The whole experience did not bother me much but was quite pleasant. Everyone else seemed to follow this rule. This self-service cafe could be an alternative to automatization. Although many owners want vending machines or robots to make their stores unmanned or intact, not few customers are willing to perform in-store activities themselves.

Patricia M. West, Dan Ariely, Steve Bellman, Eric Bradlow, Joel Huber, Eric Johnson, … David Schkade. (1999). Agents to the Rescue? Marketing Letters, 10(3), 285–300.

The advent of electronic environments is bound to have profound effects on consumer decision making. While the exact nature of these influences is only partially known it is clear that consumers could benefit from properly designed electronic agents that know individual users preferences and can act on their behalf. An examination of the variousroles agents perform is presented as a framework for thinking about the design of electronic agents. In addition, a set of goals is established that include both outcome-based measures, such as improving decision quality, as well as process measures like increasing satisfaction and developing trust.

What makes Copenhagen the most bike-friendly city in the planet?

Many cities aim to be bike-friendly but only few succeed. Wired ranked Copenhagen as the most bike-friendly city in 2015 and in 2017. Interestingly, an article in the same magazine estimated the cost to have a bike-friendly city.

… a fully-realized protected bike lane costs about $445,000 per mile, according to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. (Infrastructure costs vary widely by location, but compare that to the $280,000 the city spends to install a single traffic signal, or the $571 million per mile spent building Presidio Parkway.) Temporary infrastructure can be built, studied, and scrapped if necessary without too much financial fuss.

Then, what will be the benefits of installing fully-realized protected bike lanes in the city? These special bike lanes will give two psychological benefits to bicycle riders: competence and autonomy.

First, bicycle riders will be competent when bike lanes are physically separated from car lanes. In Copenhagen, bike lanes are often mounted higher and sometimes are separated by bus lanes. When traffic lights are designated for bicycle riders, everyone on the street assume they should follow some kinds of traffic lights.

 

 

Bicycle riders will be competent when they notice certain things are designated solely for them. One example is the trash can angled on bike lanes. Another example is the pipe-shaped hand rest with a foot rest. Many riders lean on this device when they need to wait for the green light.

 

 

Second, bicycle riders feel autonomous when the bike lanes are wide enough for two bicycles. They are sometimes in a rush and other times want to go slow and steady. In Copenhagen, most of the bike lanes are wide enough to meet riders’ different needs.

In sum, cyclists in Copenhagen will enjoy competence and autonomy thanks to its fully-realized protected bike lanes. These two psychological motivations are the drivers for people to enjoy constrained creative experience (Dahl and Moreau 2007). We apply the same framework to understand the psychology of bike riders in the bike-friendly cities, which improve riders’ experiences in other cities.

 

Dahl, D. W., & Moreau, C. P. (2007). Thinking Inside the Box: Why Consumers Enjoy Constrained Creative Experiences. Journal of Marketing Research, 44(3), 357–369.

From cooking kits to home improvement shows, consumers are increasingly seeking out products that are designed to help them be creative. In this research, the authors examine why consumers participate in creative activities and under what conditions these experiences are the most enjoyable. A qualitative study explores the diverse motivations for undertaking creative tasks and identifies the role of constraints in such endeavors. Then, the authors conduct two experimental studies to understand the importance of constraints (e.g., instructional guidance, target outcomes) in facilitating a balance between perceived competence and autonomy for consumers involved in a creative task. When consumers engage in creative activities with a sense of both autonomy and competence, they enjoy the experience more. The authors discuss implications for managers and provide opportunities for further research.

 

 

Do we enjoy brunch more if we combine foods to create it?

In cafes in Copenhagen, Denmark, customers are often asked to create their own meals by combining foods. I succeeded in this creative task in one cafe but did not in the other. Two cafes have slightly different menus.

 

 

I enjoyed the meal in the Mad & Kaffes (Food & Coffee). Foods were divided into six categories on the menu (green, dairy, bakery, meat and fish, and treat). I decided how many categories to go (3, 5, or 7) and then selected one food in each category.

 

 

I did not enjoy the meal in the Moller Kaffe and Kokken (Moller Coffee and Kitchen). Although individual foods were excellent, they were listed under one category. I could not figure out which foods to choose.

 

Since I knew little about Danish cuisine, categories relieved my burden and helped me create a meal. A similar logic was discovered ten years ago by marketing researchers who showed why kids need to follow instructions to assemble Lego bricks. To reach a creative outcome, we may need decision supporters such as categories, instructions, or even constraints.

 

Dahl, D. W., & Moreau, C. P. (2007). Thinking Inside the Box: Why Consumers Enjoy Constrained Creative Experiences. Journal of Marketing Research, 44(3), 357–369.

From cooking kits to home improvement shows, consumers are increasingly seeking out products that are designed to help them be creative. In this research, the authors examine why consumers participate in creative activities and under what conditions these experiences are the most enjoyable. A qualitative study explores the diverse motivations for undertaking creative tasks and identifies the role of constraints in such endeavors. Then, the authors conduct two experimental studies to understand the importance of constraints (e.g., instructional guidance, target outcomes) in facilitating a balance between perceived competence and autonomy for consumers involved in a creative task. When consumers engage in creative activities with a sense of both autonomy and competence, they enjoy the experience more. The authors discuss implications for managers and provide opportunities for further research.

 

 

How crowded is crowded?

Copenhagen differs from Seoul. In Copenhagen, I have ample opportunities to feel emptiness. When I go to a shopping mall (Kronen Vanlose) at 5PM on a weekday, it is literally vacant. Only few are spotted.

 

 

In Seoul, people constantly bump into people on street. By default, I feel crowdedness. When I go to Costco Wholesale at 8PM on any weekday, I should stand in line more than 10 minutes to meet cashiers.

 

 

Feeling emptiness or feeling crowdedness affects us. According to marketing research, social density shapes how we value products in a space. I find this research interesting and insightful, but it does not say much about how (objectively) crowded is (subjectively) crowded. While Koreans find a store or mall empty, Danes may find the same space crowded.

 

 

This article is about social space and material objects for sale within that space. We draw primarily on Goffman’s (1971) concepts of use space and possession territories to predict that as the social density of a given space increases, inferences of the subjective social class and income of people in that space fall. Eight studies confirm that this is indeed the case, with the result holding even for stick figures, thus controlling for typical visual indicators of social class such as clothing or jewelry. Furthermore, these social class inferences mediate a relationship between social density and product valuation, with individuals assessing both higher prices and a greater willingness to pay for products presented in less crowded contexts. This effect of inferred class on product valuation is explained by status-motivated individuals’ desire to associate with higher-status people. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first to reveal the link between social density, status inferences, and object valuations. As such, it makes a novel contribution to what has come to be known in sociology as the topological turn: a renewed focus on social space.

 

 

 

Women-only train car vs. all gender toilet

Women only subway cars are available in Shenzhen, China. They are also found in Cairo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico city, Tokyo, Delhi, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur. However, priority carriages for women receive mixed reactions. According to the Wikipedia,

 

… Women cited safety from gropers, as well as not having to tolerate various smells. Men cited not having to worry about false accusations of being a groper. However, passengers complained about further overcrowding in mixed cars, and feared that women who ride mixed cars would be putting themselves at more risk than before (Japan)

… Women-only compartments were introduced on the Leipzig-to-Chemnitz regional train in 2016. Reactions from passengers were mixed. While some welcomed the measure as it made women feel safer, others thought that separating genders was “something from the past” and a “backward solution” (Germany)

 

 

To quarantine women from men aims to protect female passengers from male criminals. However, to do so *accentuates* gender differences. Claire Cohen wrote at Telegraph,

… Women-only carriages are an admission of defeat; they normalise sexual assault and tell the world that, rather than tackling sex offenders, the answer is to simply remove women from the equation – as if it is somehow our fault… It sounded ridiculous because it is, and it is exactly the same mentality that thinks hiding women away is a solution to sexual assault – not just plain sexism.

 

Nordic countries address gender issues differently. They attempt to *mitigate* gender differences. One example is all gender toilet widely available in Copenhagen, Denmark. Women and men equally wait in queue outside the toilets.

 

 

 

 

Self service kiosks are everywhere

The Frankfurt airport in Germany has Nespresso Coffee kiosks. They brew coffee.

 

 

The canteen at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark has a self-checkout system. It tells how much I should pay.

 

 

The Max, a fast food restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden, has a do-it-yourself kiosk stand. It receives orders.

 

 

A hotel in Oslo, Norway, has a self service kiosk reception. Doors open only when reservation information is entered.

 

 

Self service kiosks are everywhere in Europe. They benefit managers and customersManagers lower labor cost and customers avoid unnecessary relationships companies hoped for. However, self service kiosks have two weaknesses. Gretchen Gavett elaborated them in his article titled How Self-Service Kiosks Are Changing Customer Behavior.

 

… Technology lacks flexibility. When we’re interacting with a person and we’re having trouble understanding something, the person can adjust to us. If we’re having a misunderstanding, they can help clarify it. Technology really can’t do either of these things.

… A person has the ability to delight us or disappoint us. It’s really hard for a technology to ever delight, however, because it’s standardized and is built on a set of rules. But it is possible for technologies to disappoint us.

 

Neal’s Yard Dairy, a cheese store at the Borough market in London, UK, shows how and why people outperform kiosks. Customers should talk to the person over the counter to buy cheese in this store. While having conversation with another human being, customers learn what to buy and they are relieved or excited. Only people educate AND delight us at the same time. Kiosks cannot.

 

 

 

 

People tip less when the tip jar looks like a human

Henckell is my favorite cafe in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen. It is a local place with great coffee and sandwich. I feel cozy inside. It has only four small tables.

 

 

There is a tip jar next to the credit card machine on the counter table. Interestingly, it has a smiley face, two arms, and two legs. One day out of curiosity, I kept watching how many guests tipped in this human-looking tip jar. Afterwards, I also asked a server whether guests liked it. Surprisingly, I noticed that a few guests hesitated putting coins into this jar for an unknown reason. The server even told me that not few guests complained about the tip jar because its mouth is too small to insert coins.

 

 

When human flavor is added to an object, people like the object. It is supported by academic studies about anthropomorphism. For instance, when a car is anthropomorphized and its characteristics are congruent with the proposed human schema, people evaluate it positively (Aggarwal and McGill 2007). When a garbage bin is anthropomorphized (e.g., “feed me”), people follow the message and show prosocial behaviors (Ahn, Kim, Aggarwal 2013). When an innovative, uncertain product is anthropomorphized (e.g., “this little guy”), people tend to adopt this product (Jiang, Hoegg, and Dahl 2011).

However, anthropomorphism might backfire if the usefulness of the product is sacrificed. When I come back to this cafe, I want to draw a different character with a bigger mouth and see what happens.

 

 

What happens when you reserve a taxi at 6am in Copenhagen?

In Copenhagen, people rarely take taxi. They ride bicycles or, if needed, take public transportation such as bus or subways. Therefore, I was not surprised when I heard that Uber’s operation was illegal. According to the news on March 28, 2017 by Alanna Petroff at CNN,

“The government is passing a new law that will essentially make our business untenable here,” said Harry Porter, a spokesperson for Uber. The updated taxi rules — which require cars to install taxi meters and video surveillance features — leaves 2,000 Uber drivers and 300,000 riders in the lurch in Copenhagen, the only Danish city where Uber operated.”

One day, I should have used taxi service because my flight was scheduled to leave early in the morning. I was recommended to book a taxi at Taxa 4×35. Although I saw many Taxa taxi on street, but did not trust its service at first. However, I changed my thoughts about Taxa after using a feature on the app which informed me in real time where the reserved taxi was. The taxi arrived at the right time at the right place and, more importantly, relieved my concern before I used it.

 

 

In fact, the real-time location informing feature may not be special in Asia where massive amount of people catch a taxi frequently and use heavily their messenger services such as Wechat or Kakaotalk. However, this feature is quite fresh where taxi is not constantly and/or urgently needed.

 

 

Why are trash cans angled on bike lanes?

In Copenhagen, Denmark, many people choose bicycles rather than cars. In fact, the priority on the road seems to go to bicycle riders than pedestrians. Therefore, Danes often have more three bicycles; one for commuting between home and train station, another for commuting between train station and workplace, and the other for enjoying weekend. Some trash cans are even angled in this city so that bicycle riders can throw in empty water bottles without even stopping.