5 Things I Learned About the Customer Experience From My Visit to the Magnolia Silos
I was a big fan of Chip, JoJo and the entire Magnolia brand before visiting The Silos. Although, that’s just a silly thing to say, because, really…who isn’t? After Geoff and I had booked our trip to Austin, Texas to celebrate our 10 year anniversary together and realized how close we would be to Waco, we couldn’t pass up the chance for a day-trip. We woke up before the sun, grabbed ourselves a Starbucks and were on way. A quick hour and 20 minutes later, we were parked and walking up the most lovely and inviting of spaces.
Somewhere along the way in building our own business, I have become a customer service/client experience junkie and have come to love assessing, dissecting and analyzing the overall experience that I have with any given business that I interact with. I can’t help it. It’s just fun. :) Our visit to the Silos was truly a great one. I’m so excited to share what made our experience what it was and what our takeaways can be as business owners. Here are 5 the five things I learned about the customer experience at Magnolia Market!
1. Branding is About Creating a Feeling
The Magnolia brand is warm and welcoming and in our experience at the Silos, that was certainly translated through the staff onsite. Everyone seemed to have smiles on their faces that made you feel like they genuinely loved their jobs. I myself felt friendlier and happier as we explored the crowded shop and waited in line for some truffle fries (highly recommended, by the way…Milo Biscuit Company’s food truck…you won’t regret it). I think that was in large part from the team members, overall atmosphere of invitation, kindness, gentleness and service that they have created. So often we think of branding only in terms of visual design and aesthetics. But branding, of course, is much more than fonts and logos and colors. It’s those intangible feelings that you feel when you interact with it.
Takeaway / Application: How do I want potential and current customers to feel when they interact with my business? What things do I need to start doing, stop doing and keep doing to evoke these feelings?
2. Design Matters and Consistency Is Key
I’m such a sucker for great design and solid, consistent branding, so interacting with the Magnolia brand at the Silos was a feast for my senses! Y’all, it’s pretty. It’s all so darn pretty!
A common topic in my coaching sessions is the importance of and the how to’s of pulling your brand through each and every aspect of your business in order to reach your ideal client. At the Silos, they sure do it right. The Magnolia brand and their customer experience has been intentionally and thoughtfully handcrafted. They have done a remarkable job at carrying their brand across all fronts at the Silos. From the beautiful installations and décor in the market, to the curated products they offer, to the music they have playing on the back lawn, to the calligraphy they use on their bakeshop signage…and on and on and on. The cumulative experience evokes a feeling of complete delight within me and leaves me wanting to pack my bags and move to Waco! :) Everything is on brand and everything is beautiful.
Takeaway / Application: Great branding matters to the overall customer experience. Review your visual identity and assess every touch point of your brand and customer experience. Is it well designed and aesthetically pleasing? And is it consistent across all mediums and interactions?
3. Enact Small, Creative Solutions to Lessen Frustrations
From a customer experience standpoint, the greatest pain point at The Silos lies in their capacity and ability to accommodate the thousands of people that come through the shop and grounds each day. It’s a great problem to have, yet still, a problem. Per the recommendation on the Magnolia site, we visited the Silos on a weekday morning arriving before the doors were opened, so we didn’t experience the frustrations that I’m sure visitors experience daily. We also went in the spring without the added factor of the Texan sunshine in those brutally hot summer months. No doubt, they will continue to work to solve problems related to wait times, parking, etc., but I could see how they had taken steps to ease customer frustrations by making small changes and employing creative solutions. The line is long when checking out? They have two members of the team instead of one at each register to speed up the process and retain a friendly demeanor: one to complete the transaction and one to bag the items while chatting it up with the customer. The parking lot has filled up? They offer customers another free, easy (not to mention, fun!) option to park in a nearby lot and then ride the town trolley over. They’ve also devoted a section of the website with 7 Tips For Enjoying Your Visit, which has suggestions for how to make the most of your visit and avoid potential frustrations.
Takeaway / Application: What are the pain points that my customers/clients experience and what can I do to ease them or even eliminate them altogether?
4. Do Sweat the Small Stuff.
After paying for our items in the market, we stepped out the front doors and looked down to see a Magnolia staff member replacing one of the small flowers that I suppose had wilted along the walkway next to the front lawn. It was such a small thing and seemingly insignificant to many, I’m sure. But not to me. I certainly took notice of this attention to detail and could feel the focus on excellence at the Silos and of the greater Magnolia brand. In my opinion, it’s often the little things that can separate the good companies from the great ones. It’s in the little things that make me believe that the company aims high and is always striving to put their very best foot forward in the experience that they have to offer to the customer. It instills trust in a company and often will keep me loyal as a customer.
Takeaway / Application: What are those small things in your business that you can do to make it and the experience you provide to your customers excellent? Maybe it’s the packaging that you use to ship your product. Maybe it’s double checking the emails you send customers to make sure there are no spelling errors. Pay attention to and be thoughtful about the small things and take pride in doing them well.
5. Purpose > Product.
“We believe that friends who feel like family are the best kind of friends and that nothing matters more than family.” – excerpt from the Magnolia Manifesto
Yes, I was on a little piece of Cloud 9 as I skipped around shopping in the market…trying to resist spending up all of our money on tea towels and cute notepads and striped pillows. And enjoying the deliciousness of the chocolate chip cookie from the bakery was basically straight heaven in my mouth. But I think the thing I was most inspired by and most enjoyed about our visit to The Silos was seeing how and experiencing the ways their greater values were lived out. Family. Community. Heart.
Noted on the website is Joanna’s vision for The Silos to be a gathering place for community and her desire for it to be a place to “slow down, turn off your phone and connect with people.” You can’t help but see and feel these values come to life as you relax out on the lawn in bean bags (stylish bean bags, of course) watching kids toss around a ball and families enjoying the simplicity of pushing each other on the beautiful swing set…chatting about whatever. I met two Baylor grad students while I was there that told me they often come to The Silos to eat lunch and hang out. Y’all, I just love it. A business that started out selling home goods that has been built to bring people together.
I don’t know about you, but I love supporting businesses with values and with purpose. Businesses that exist and are fueled by much bigger things than the products and services that they offer.
Takeaway / Application: What is the greater purpose of your business? What is “the why” of its existence? What are your values and how will you infuse those into your brand and live them out in the way you do business?
Experiencing the Magnolia brand at the Silos in person was such a treat. A true delight. My only complaint is that it isn’t closer to Charlotte so our family could enjoy it regularly. I’m already grieving the fact that I can’t take the kids there regularly this summer to kick the ball around the lawn. If you ever find yourself close to Waco, I would highly recommend you get yourself there to experience the Silos for yourself.
I thought I’d end with a few tips of my own if you can make a trip there!
+ There is free parking!
+ Bring yourself some sunscreen if you plan to hang out on the lawn for a bit.
+ Plan to hang out on the lawn for a bit! Get yourself some lunch from the delicious food trucks (the truffle fries from were amazing), grab a black and white striped bean bag chair and take in the sights.
+ Get there early…especially if you want to visit the bakery (which I highly recommend….the cupcakes looked amazing and the chocolate chip cookies were delicious). We arrived about 20 minutes before the shop opened. Within an hour or so, the line was wrapped around the side of the building for a chance to get into the bakery!
+ Pre-decide a budget for your shopping, as if you are anything like me, you will be so tempted to buy it all and take advantage of their Fedex service to ship items home.
+ Jump on the free trolley to take you around downtown Waco. There isn’t a terrible amount to see, but I happen to love exploring the random nooks and alleys of small towns. If you didn’t get your fill of shopping/browsing at Magnolia, you might consider going to Spice Village downtown…it’s a huge space sectioned by booths selling jewelry, clothing, home goods, antiques, etc. It was fun to walk around.
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