Thankfully, for the most part, the pandemic is behind us, leaving a strange 2-year black hole in the timeline of our lives. While normality for most was put on standby, we saw the transformation of businesses and how customers experience products and services.
There was an acceleration in everything from working from home to digital subscriptions, online shopping, food delivery services and video calling — if you look back, the impact has been staggering.
Most of these products and services already existed but the pandemic acted like a steroid injection of digital transformation and mass adoption. Customers are now a lot savvier, their expectations have risen around websites, apps and the overall brand and product experience.
Assumptions made in the boardroom using outdated demographic data or a hunch someone on the marketing team has is no longer a way to create a successful product or service. This type of thinking has and will usually lead to failure. We’ve been banging this drum for a long time and we have to keep banging. You’d be amazed how much we see businesses, from large multinational enterprises to SMEs still taking this approach. Excuses we hear range from the lack of time, budget or our old favourite “we already know what our customers want”.
Direction on product development needs to come from your customers — they know what they want and they will be happy to tell you if you just ask them. Not properly listening to or involving your customers in your design process will mean your competitors will out-smart, out-rank and out-sell you.
The winds of change
This had been bubbling a few years before the pandemic, influence was starting to filter down, fueled by the success of design-focused companies. Wider adoption of research and user-focused design processes used to create and promote digital as well as physical products was beginning to have a wider impact.
Brands who had focused on research around their customer or users experience had started to surface as the winners while others have been floating along with limited or no growth. A new standard has been set. Users’ tolerance and patience for friction within a brand experience has been almost wiped out.
Stand out from the crowd
In a world dominated by multinationals, brands need a point of differentiation, a unique selling point. Maybe brands offering similar products look to pricing as a way to establish their USP but this is just a race to the bottom.
An example of this in Ireland is the telco, Eir. They offer what is probably the cheapest TV package on the Irish market at just €10 a month when added to your broadband package — price is their standout USP but as we all know, their issues with customer experience have been well publicised. So it is difficult to imagine they have any other sales tools they can use to establish an alternative USP to price. They have boxed themselves into a corner by not focusing on good customer experiences.
The point is that experience is more important than price. Sure, your pricing needs to be affordable but if your customers like the experience, they will be happy to pay a premium. Look at companies like Dyson, Revolut, Sky or Apple.
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
– Seth Godin
If you want to build inclusive products that work for everyone, you simply have to follow a human-centred design process that is grounded in research. Data analytics is extremely important but listening to what real people actually want is the most valuable data you can collect.
I’m not talking about sending out a quick survey and maybe carrying out a bit of user testing on a prototype of your product. You need to invest in bringing the customer on the design journey with you, work smart by digging deep into every nuance of the customer journey and experience both online and offline — sweat the small stuff as well as the fundamentals, a collection of micro insights will be greater than the sum of its parts. Challenge assumptions, validate ideas, optimise the customer’s journey and increase conversions. This will translate into revenue, higher profits, and will grow your business.
Customer expectations are higher than ever, good experiences are rewarded with customer trust, loyalty and referrals. If you are not already listening very carefully to your customers and involving them in every area of your offering, someone else will do it and they will win.
Inclusive design takes time and effort but the investment will pay off in multiples. Talk to us if you want to know how we can help you with research-focused design, marketing and digital transformation.