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Posted by on Nov 7, 2012

Remember to keep up with customers

Remember to keep up with customers

 

It sounds easy to design a great experience : Find out what customers want. Design a product to do that better than the competition. Sell it.

But what a customer wants from your product or service is not set in stone.  Shifting social norms and fast-spreading trends change expectations.  As Loews CEO Jonathan Tisch stated in an interview with Peter George as discussed in Flavio Martin’s post.

Customer-centricity involves following a moving target at all times. As soon as you’ve come up with a great customer experience, you’ve got to start thinking about a new one.       Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotel CEO

The change can creep up slowly over time or arrive overnight.  The important thing is to be aware that what a customer wants can change, and to make  design choices accordingly.

The Beomaster 5, a high end sound system, designed for sound and beauty. While it looks like an iPad, listeners must use 3 aluminum scroll wheels to find songs instead of a touch interface.

Consider Bang and Olufsen’s sound systems :  designed for the customer who wants top-line  sound quality and distinctive design.

But over the last 5 years, as the intuitive, touch screen interface on iPads and mobiles become a standard, potential B&O customers want high sound quality and fancy design AND an interface that is intuitive to use.

So all of a sudden a product like the BeoMaster 5, with a screen that looks touchable (but isn’t) and a complex interface (that requires mastering 3 consecutive wheels and buttons), can disappoint customers.

Judging from the expert reviews, B&O made a conscious design choice to feel “different” vs. other Apple-like sound systems. But this choice limits the product’s appeal only to those who want  top sound quality so badly that they can forgive that the product is (much) more difficult to use than other screens.

Checking pro-actively on an on-going basis what “it works” means to  potential customers with a tool like the Experience Scan can prevent a slow creep towards obsolescence.   For potential Bang and Olufsen customers, innovation probably isn’t about just “sound ” and “design” anymore.

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