Today’s customers demand more than a good product; they expect a great customer experience. A few companies are leading the way, including Apple with their iPad and iPhone, offering irresistible stores with friendly experts, elegant packaging, and customer service that never ends. People love Apple’s whole customer experience, and willingly pay a premium for the product.
Much has been written about product design, but designing the total experience from the front rarely happens yet. In the classic book, “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design,” Brian Solis details how to design the whole experience, rather than just the product. Solis is a globally recognized thought leader in this area, and he asserts that the experience is now the product.
Every entrepreneur needs to learn how to do this by starting with the six principles of User-Centered Design (UCD), as outlined by Solis in his book, and already adopted by key International standards organizations:
- Apply multidisciplinary skills and perspectives. The total experience design begins with a common vision, but then must cross the borders between product, packaging, marketing, customer support, and many other disciplines. Human-experience design always supplements technology-driven design, and environmentally sustainable design.
- Explicitly integrate customers, tasks, and environments. Designers must factor in people behaviors, context, preferences, as well as customer goals and aspirations. The objective is to build a sustainable relationship between the product and customer. This requires people on your team who have real-world experience, as well as design training.
- Insist on customer engagement and user-centered evaluation. With the advent of interactive social media, as well as high-bandwidth video tools, there is no excuse for not involving real customers, and prospects who fit the desired demographic. With these, you apply common tools, such as field research, user groups, questionnaires and interviews.
- Include the total user experience from shopping to support. Experience using the product is only one stage. Others include the marketing awareness and education stage, online and in-store shopping stage, setup stage, support, and upgrade considerations. While there are many models for the design process, every stage should be included.
- Keep users engaged throughout design and development. Don’t assume that early input is adequate. In today’s fast paced market, trends and user needs evolve. Results show that when users are engaged throughout the development process, a number of key system requirements are identified that would otherwise be entirely missed.
- Make user-centered design processes iterative. Early testing of conceptual models and design ideas often suggests a complete overhaul and rethinking of the design. In all cases, designs can be refined and improved by iteration. Full customer experience use cases are key because they help identify interactions between stages of design work.
Customer experience should be one of the biggest priorities in startups right now, but I still don’t see it happening. Technologists focus on building a product that works, marketing people try to build a story around the result, and support people figure out how to deal with customer feedback on shortcomings. Good customer experiences happen only by accident, rather than by design.
Most new customers are now mobile or digital first as a result of the devices and apps that shape their lives. These products with their pinch, swipe, zoom, and instant delivery have reshaped customer preferences and decision making. A great customer experience today requires an acceptance of these engagement models and building on them, rather than ignoring them.
If you are looking for a competitive advantage, creating a positive total user experience is the place to start. Too many existing companies have evolved into silos of expertise, which make user-centered design and delivery difficult, if not impossible. As an entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to take the lead, and become the world’s next super-brand. Now is the time to do it.
I realise money follows value so to have a profitable business its value or atleast perceived value relative to the market needs to be created, OK. Got it. Doesnt really matter if the biz is entertainment, education, innovating, inventing or otherwise. Aslong as its solving a need or doing something better than a competitor at the same or lower price and marketed well, it should most likely be profitable. OK. I have a prototype that is an existing product, redesigned and marketed differently. I have a strategy to innovate and add value whilst expanding the market for this particular product. Is kickstarter a good plan to raise capital for full scale production & marketing? If so I plan to publish 2-3 videos, business mission statement and incentives on kick starter. what am I missing?
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Great Jones is expanding into a new area of the kitchen tomorrow, with what co-founder and CEO Sierra Tishgart described as the startup’s biggest launch since it released its first products two years ago.
Ahead of launching the new bakeware line, Great Jones is announcing that it has raised $ 1.75 million in new funding.
The money comes from notable figures in the e-commerce world — Fellow founder Jake Miller and Very Great founders Eric Prum and Josh Williams — along with restauranteurs including Mimi Cheng’s co-founder Hannah Cheng, Lilia founder Sean Feeny, Kopitiam co-owner Moonlyn Tsai and Konbi co-owner Akira Akuto.
NEA partner Liza Landsman invested as well, and Tishgart said that Sweetgreen’s Nic Jammet and Parachute’s Ariel Kaye have joined the startup’s board of directors. Tishgart noted that Great Jones has worked on collaborations and product partnerships with many of these investors, and she also pointed to Kaye and Parachute as providing a model for how Great Jones can grow.
“To me, starting with sheets, [Kaye] has taken a product which people loved and thoughtfully expanded to a broad selection,” Tishgart said.
She sees a similar path for Great Jones — just as Parachute has become a “one-stop shop” for home, Tishgart wants her startup to do the same for your kitchen. Great Jones launched with pots, pans, and a Dutch oven, then added a baking sheet and is now expanding into a whole line of bakeware.
The new bakeware products (many of them inspired by classic Pyrex designs) include the Sweetie Pie ceramic pie dish, the Hot Dish ceramic casserole dish, the Breadwinner loaf pan, the Patty Cake cake pan and a new broccoli-colored version of the Holy Sheet baking sheet. You can buy the pieces a la carte (the Holy Sheet is $ 35, the pie pans are $ 45 and the bread pans are $ 65 for a pair) or purchase the whole set for $ 245.
Tishgart added that that the company has had a “really, really busy year” with lockdowns and social distancing.
“People are cooking more than ever,” she said. “This is a category and an industry that have really been able to thrive on this.”
At the same time, Tishgart emphasized that the growing interest from millennials and younger consumers is a long-term trend that won’t go away when the pandemic is over — with the rise of celebrity chefs, high-profile restaurants and more food content than ever, food and cooking have become a bigger “cultural force” than ever.
There have been challenges as well, particularly as the pandemic has affected supply chains. Tishgart said the company has spent much of the year “chasing product,” but it benefited from using a variety of materials and working with a variety of manufacturers.
“This is one thing that upfront made for a more complicated supply chain,” she said. “But it’s a strong saving grace now, because we’re not reliant on one factory or one part of the world.”
The funding, Tishgart said, will allow Great Jones to invest in further product development and production. And while there are plenty of other cookware startups raising funding, she said that “it’s motivating, it’s exciting to see how other people interpret it” and that the different brands “all speak to different customers.”