Steve jobs used to say “start with the customer experience and walk backwards”, suggesting that the product is a mean to solve a customer problem and provide an experience.
Zipcar, a car on-demand service, is a great illustration of that. The company understands that the car is just a mean for one to mobilize from point A to point B. Owning a car, for many of us, is a way to serve that need but that need can be served by having an on-demand car for example (hence Zipcar).
Many technologists fail to recognize they offer a solution to a need vs. a pure product. They are obsessed by features, losing sight of the customer experience. To demonstrate this, let me share with you a recent experience I had with a product.
My need: A ‘quick and dirty’ content cross platform publishing tool. Results: days and hours of wasted time and a bad customer experience
Two months ago I was looking to design and publish a website. I needed something quick and professional, so I thought I’d use one of the many services available to design and publish content.
I decided to try a platform I heard of a few months ago. The platform was developed by a well funded startup (over $50M in venture funding) that has been around for a few years.
Initial website design took about ten days to design and publish. Halfway through the design process I discovered the platform was using Flash. Big issue as that eliminates a great portion of my mobile visitors.
I spent the next couple of days browsing through their online support center, trying desperately to find a way to contact their support. A few days and emails later, I discovered a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. Yes! I thought I was a single click away from fulfilling my goal and actually getting the website up.
Followed the link, submitted my website and….nothing happened…for days.
To cut a long story short, I asked one of their board members to put me in touch with one of the company’s VPs. The VP was angry that I found it challenging to contact them through the website (“Here is a link” he replied. Good luck finding it on your website). He also mentioned that the conversion is done instantly so “there is no need for a confirmation” (apparently the conversion didn’t go well but since there is no feedback you have no way of knowing).
Remember what I needed: A simple, quick and dirty website to publish content.
In summary, all of technologists out there, remember a few basic things:
- What improves the your customer experience? A new feature or a service.
- Always think from a customer’s perspective. Let your customer try your product while you are sitting in the background. Observe how they use it.
- Make is easy for customers to connect with you. Some of the things you will learn from customer emails: customer demographics, product bugs, features they like/use etc. Nothing like customer feedback to improve experience.