We live in a time when customers have an array of social media outlets to express their frustration about a company's goods and services. While it's never a good feeling to receive criticism, organisations can take this kind of feedback to improve on their own products. But this process doesn't just involve listening to customers. National Australia Bank (NAB) Labs head of human-centred design team Louise Long spoke about this topic at technology conference CeBIT 2016.
Designer with an idea image from Shutterstock
Listening to customers is important to any business but just referring to client feedback alone is not enough to guide companies in creating and improving their products. Speaking at CeBIT 2016, Long emphasised that customer feedback for product design needs to be fleshed out by contextual information. This includes where they live, what they do and what their level of education is and even their religion and political views.
This is what Long calls "zooming out to zooming in" so that organisations can empathise with their customer-base. This kind of rich information gives context to a customer's feedback and then companies can look at potential solutions for it. Using NAB Labs as an example, Long said her team looks at customer's problems and aim to develop products that meets their needs, can be monetised by NAB and that are sustainable for future use.
Often, customer-led design starts without an answer, which is why it leans so much on finding out more about consumers and empathising with them. Long advises businesses to practice endless curiosity, as detailed on the CeBIT blog:
"Be endlessly curious about the world your customer lives in, and feel what the customer feels. What is the story and context behind what they’re doing, whether it be applying for a loan or looking to buy a house? Customer journey mapping and blueprinting can be useful at this stage."
Making use of the data you get from customers is important but it's also useful to go out there and get user feedback early on in the product development cycle. Michael Bromley, who has 15 years' experience in product encouraged product teams to go out and test their creations with real users, customers or staff early on in the development cycle.
"It’s really cheap, simple and fast to put a picture in front of someone and say ‘what do you think?'” Bromley said. “Let people give you feedback and perspective that you didn’t have before," he said.