Posted March 25, 2011 5:50 pm by with 1 comment

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Have you ever been to an ING Direct cafe? They’re opening a new one in San Francisco and here’s how they describe it in the press release.

Designed to make saving money and banking a true retail and community experience, the Cafe will be a place where locals can have kitchen table conversations about finances and get to know ING DIRECT.  Also, the community can get a great cup of coffee, surf the net through free WiFi and enjoy several floors of creative space to work or hold meetings.

Intrigued by the concept, I did some looking around on Yelp and found many people were as skeptical as I was. What’s next, asked one woman, the Wells Fargo Waffle House? But as odd as the concept of bank meets cafe is, it appears to be working. I thought I’d see people complaining about the hard sell. About ING Direct salespeople sitting down for an unsolicited chat, but not so. The majority of comments left on the ING Direct cafes were about the cheap price for gourmet coffee, the comfortable surrounds and the free WiFi.

From out here, it looks like these are inexpensive cafes, respites from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can also check you ING Direct accounts and attend a financial seminar. Pretty nifty.

It’s a concept Barnes and Noble and IKEA have been using for years. Offering customers food, drink, and a place to sit down inside the store so they have no reason to leave.

Now let’s take this concept online. When your customers come to visit you, do they feel at home? Are they comfortable? Are you providing them with virtual “snacks?” You may not be able to offer your online customer a cup of Peet’s coffee while they shop, but are you giving them a reason to stick around? That might mean giving them the latest fashion news if you’re selling clothes, or music to listen to while they shop (but please no autostart players!). Invite them to watch a video, play a game, respond to a poll. And most of all, make sure they can reach a human being with their questions.

It takes more time to walk out of a physical location then it takes to click the X in the corner of a browser. So it’s up to you to make your customers feel like they want to grab a seat and stay awhile.

  • I think you raise a great point. What are website doing to keep visitors engaged as long as possible? You have to have some kind of added benefit, after your give them the information they were looking for, to make them stick around.