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?
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.
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.
A couple of days ago I was driving home after a frustrating discussion with a mobile phone salesman when several things clicked into place for me and I suddenly understood things better. At least I was able to see things from a different perspective.
For many years Apple fans have pointed out to detractors that the reason they love their latest Apple product is simple – “It just works”. This is a phrase which Steve Jobs repeatedly used at product announcements and it has become a generic catch-phrase to describe anything which works in a manner which doesn’t require the user to know how it works.
Steve Jobs recognised that most of us aren’t interested in what’s under the bonnet – we’re more interested in what it does for us, rather than how those clever Cupertino people managed to make it work like magic.
It’s an easy message to spread virally, and it’s positive – people like that.
But it’s just not good enough. You can’t say “It just works” and expect to leave it at that. Continue reading →
My daughter recently received a scarf as a gift. On wearing it for the first time she complained that it was scratching her, and on looking at it in more detail I found that it wasn’t the scarf itself which was scratching her – it was the label. Or more accurately the bundle of labels.
Five separate labels on Bench scarf
Clearly there is a need to label products, not only from a consumer information perspective but also from a regulatory perspective too. And I recognise the need to maximise flexibility such that a single product can be sold in many different markets. But I wonder whether somehow this principal has been taken to such an extent that the effect on the consumer has been overlooked, and that somehow the consumer experience is compromised. Continue reading →