Who cares if it doesn’t work?

There is often a huge gulf between the way in which a product was intended to be used and the way it actually is. Product designers need to experience first-hand how their creations work in the real world if they are to improve future designs.

If a consumer product doesn’t work well, it is likely to become the subject of online reviews, and any feedback will eventually find its way back to the designers one way or another. At the very least, the consumer experience is likely to (negatively) affect the prospects of repurchase. But for products or experiences which are not so obviously linked to consumer purchase, there are likely to be fewer repercussions. Who really cares if it doesn’t work?

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If they’re selling an experience, why are they treating me like that?

There are times when it’s difficult to separate a product from its surrounding experience. When that happens, it’s critical that both the product and the experience are good enough to lure the customer back for more. A failure in either element can adversely affect the ultimate success of the business.

Whilst products can be designed and supplied to a fixed specification with defined limits, experiences can be more difficult to reproduce. There is a danger that overly-prescribed experiences can leave the customer feeling “processed” rather than being treated as an individual. Front-line staff need to understand the effect they can have on the customer experience. And Head Office staff need to give them the freedom to deliver that individual experience, rather than insisting on following an efficient process.
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Marketing smartphones is becoming tougher

Coordinating a marketing campaign (in-store, TV, print, OOH) is a hugely complex and costly task for mobile network operators and manufacturers – particularly when it needs to match the availability of new product. And addressing a rapidly saturating smartphone market presents a major challenge – consumers are becoming entrenched in an increasingly polarised market.

Consumers have good reasons not to change phones, but at the same time it is this churn which drives innovation forwards, so it is important to convince them to change. And for mobile network operators, traffic generates revenue so it is important to attract new consumers for them too. Perhaps these operators hold the key to the next battleground in the smartphone war? Maybe we’ll start to see more and more incentives for switching operators.

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Customising physical products – how far to go with smartphones?

Is “being different” becoming a new differentiator itself?  As websites deliver an increasingly personal experience, can we expect more from physical products? Will the arrival of the Moto X raise the bar in terms of what can be achieved in consumer-customisation, or is it merely a short-term profile-raiser? Will the manufacturers of monolithic plastic slab phones continue to concentrate on black and white, leaving third parties to provide colour through after-market covers? And why can’t phones be designed to survive the real world?Umbrellas Continue reading

Meeting, exceeding and managing expectations

It’s sometimes difficult for a Product Manager to know whether customer expectations are there to be met or exceeded. Exceeding them has always struck me as the best way to deliver customer delight; merely meeting them must be the absolute bare minimum. Project & programme managers, on the other hand, often argue that exceeding expectations is setting the bar unnecessarily high, and that if expectations are set correctly in the first place, the objective should be to meet them.

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But marketing messages can set expectations at an altogether different level. Are we reading too much into them? Are we being blinded by numbers and facts without questioning their relevance? For example:

  • smartphone display window made from Gorilla Glass is strong enough to withstand the weight of 10,000 elephants (yes, ten thousand) before it cracks.
  • A standard family car with a normal range of 800 miles can, with careful driving, cover more than 1,600 miles on a single tank of fuel.
  • Home broadband can deliver rates of up to 100 Mb/s. Continue reading

6 unlikely reasons for a hopelessly inadequate product

I can’t understand how this happened. Surely the product wasn’t specified this way? Maybe pure laziness? I really don’t know, but I have my suspicions. Perhaps you’ve experienced the same?

Last week I found myself staying for 2 nights in an out-of-town hotel. The sort of boxy hotel which is cloned hundreds of times across the country, perfectly clean and functional but totally devoid of any personality. Fit for purpose, adjacent to a roundabout on an arterial road close to my destination – it was just the thing I was looking for.

These places always seem to be designed to the same specification – very much a “bare essentials” approach had been adopted, with everything in its place and nothing extra. Designed to meet, rather than exceed my expectations. With the exception of the TV remote, that is.

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It’s not about the wine; it’s about me!

The recent press release from Amorim and O-I announced the joint development of Helix, the innovative solution to wine bottle sealing. In doing so, they demonstrated the importance of listening to their consumers, rather than concentrating solely on the technology. It’s not about the wine; it’s about me, the consumer.

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