Project | IKEA

Simple, Easily Adopted, Highly Effective


IKEA Japan had a problem: its customers demanded a much higher standard of service than is usual in other countries/ markets. The IKEA-model is heavily based on self-service in retail, and requires people to do most of the shopping themselves. Competitors offered much more pro-active service in the retail stores, for a much higher price. “It was clear that we needed an efficient and effective way in which we could put the Japanese customer first,” says Cliff Crosbie, former Deputy Country Manager at IKEA Japan. Yet, this way had to fit the IKEA culture. IKEA’s mission was to establish IKEA’s brand identity in Japan. This meant that the company wanted to stick to its globally successful concept and strategy.


Together with IKEA, Performance Solutions took the time to really understand the IKEA model and think about how the brand could fit within the Japanese customer culture. We scanned the retail landscape in Tokyo, and combined this with insights from interviews with customers and staff. This research resulted in the ‘Customer 1st!’ program, which was rolled out in IKEA stores throughout Japan.

To express IKEA’s desired experience, we used their name as an acronym: Inspiring, Knowledgable, Engaging, and Assisting. We then reversed the acronym in order to describe the steps that lead to the desired experience: Assist to Engage. Be Knowledgable to Inspire.

The acronym formed the base for the IKEA context guide, which links the desired customer experience to corporate and national vision, mission and strategy. The context guide was the source document for our ‘Train the Trainer’ program, where IKEA employees themselves became trainers of the program. Cliff Crosbie: “Getting that program into the stores was certainly one of the highlights of my time in Japan, and was a major part of the success we experienced on the sales floor.


  • High engagement amongst trained employees, due to cocreation.
  • Significant increase in employee- and customer satisfaction.
  • Direct boost in sales in both conversion and average transaction.

Yoko Kitano, Customer Relations Manager Ikea Japan: “Performance Solutions has developed a wonderful sales training program for IKEA Japan. We have a strong company value in which we all believe and a system to support it. Performance Solutions closed the gap in between. We love it, and we live it!


Performance Solutions offers a wide range of solutions in Retail. From (experience) concept development to training & coaching. From social & mobile learning solutions to customized bite-sized training content & gamification solutions. Below you’ll find an overview of solutions we offered at IKEA.

Reverse Engineering

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About IKEA

“To create a better everyday life for the many people”, this is the IKEA vision. The business idea is to offer a wide range of well designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

They work hard to achieve quality at affordable prices for our customers through optimizing our entire value chain, by building long-term supplier relationships, investing in highly automated production and producing large volumes. Our vision also goes beyond home furnishing. We want to create a better everyday for all people impacted by our business.

The IKEA Concept starts with the idea of providing a range of home furnishing products that are affordable to the many people, not just the few. It is achieved by combining function, quality, design and value – always with sustainability in mind.

The IKEA Concept exists in every part of our company, from design, sourcing, packing and distributing through to our business model. Our aim is to help more people live a better life at home.