ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘customer experience’

Want A New Year’s Resolution to Increase Your Innovation Output? – Try This

Posted by Plish on January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!!

Yes, it’s the new year.  A fresh slate.  It’s time for that time honored tradition of making resolutions.

In the world of innovation, there is one resolution you can make that will result in more creative ideas, more really creative innovations.

But before we make that resolution, Let’s Toast with a Heineken!

Heineken’s interactive, Ignite beer bottle is a thing to behold.  It’s not just a passive hunk of glass that holds a liquid.  It’s an active participant, sensing and responding, thus encouraging certain behaviors.

But their work has gone beyond the bottle.  Heineken also uses IoT and AR to increase sales and optimize the sales and distribution process.

The point here is that Heineken is not just seeing themselves as providing beer.  They see themselves as providing an experience.  From the store to the nightclub, they understand that people have lives, they act in certain ways in certain situations. When designing products with this in mind, not only does Heineken see improved sales and distribution, but people enjoy the product more!

What does this have to do with the New Year’s Resolution?

Everything.   Great innovations come from great ideas that dive into the depths of reality.  In Heineken’s case, these innovations come from a shift in perspective.  They look beyond the obvious and embrace the breadth and depth of the product experience.

At the heart of these innovations is a realization that for every action there is not only a reaction but a pre-action, and there are reasons for these actions.

Let’s Buy a Hammer

I want to buy a hammer to drive a nail into a wall.  Chances are, I don’t just want a nail in a wall.  I want to hang a picture.  But, I don’t just want to hang a picture, I want to beautify the room, or bring back a memory.  You see where this is going.

Most hammer manufacturers are making something to drive a nail.  It’s why hammers are virtually unchanged for decades.  They focus on efficient nail driving. But,  the nail is more than that, and in fact, it’s part of the process to create an experience – it’s not just about driving nails. (Other companies have realized that.  Nail-less hangers and non-marring adhesives all get at the ‘hanging’ part of the process.  But they still don’t necessarily see the whole picture. HA! No pun intended 😉 )

Heineken, on the other hand, is exploring the many tentacles of before, after, during and why.  Beer is purchased and consumed in specific contexts.   It’s not just a bottle.  It’s part of an experience.  We share a toast.  We drink in clubs.  We clink bottles.  We savor and feel the beat of the music.  The bottle is in the midst of all this, and it’s a shame that it’s been a passive part of that experience. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  

The bottle can enrich the experience. 

It can participate in the club environment – it can sense and respond, and because it does, it creates it’s own feedback.  We gain pleasure from experiencing the bottle and its contents, so we encourage and repeat certain behaviors.

At the end of the day though, it’s not about bottles. It’s about innovative products and services that bring exciting and memorable experiences.

So let’s make that Resolution!

I resolve to look for, and design for, the Truth behind the Reality.

whoa…. that’s deep.

Not really.   It’s just a more thorough way of innovating.

Explore context. Explore ritual.  Explore relationships.  Explore meaning.

Personally I like the AEIOU framework:

A: Activities are goal directed sets of actions – things which people want to accomplish

E: Environments include the entire arena where activities take place

I: Interactions are between a person and someone or something else, and are the building blocks of activities

O: Objects are building blocks of the environment, key elements sometimes put to complex or unintended uses, changing their function, meaning and context

U: Users are the consumers, the people providing the behaviors, preferences and needs (Christina Wasson, quoting E-Lab, 1977)

Courtesy of https://www.10000ft.com/design-recipes/aeiou-research-framework

There are other systems like POEMS, POSTA, etc., but the point of them all is to find and design for the truth behind the reality.  Look at the big picture – don’t settle for the obvious!

The Reality: I want drive a nail into a wall

The Truth Behind the Reality: I want to take a step to beautify a room with a picture from a vacation to remind everyone of the great memories there

The Reality: I want to have a cold beer at a night club

The Truth Behind the Reality: I want to have fun!  I want a night of memories, a night of interaction!

The Reality:  A surgeon wants to cut a hole in the skin

The Truth Behind the Reality: A surgeon wants to quickly and easily place a device. The surgeon wants the patient to feel better so that she can go to her grand-daughter’s wedding in a week.

Where do you think the innovations are going to come from?

Designing for “The Reality” or for “The Truth Behind the Reality”?

Sure, innovation can come from just designing for “The Reality”.  In a world where all that is needed are nails driven into a surface, a new design of hammer – a nail gun – will be hailed as an innovation.    But let’s look at the “Truth Behind the Reality”:    How will people with nail guns interact with each other and the nails?  What about being able to use it in cold, or heat, or rain, or underwater?  Are we just putting up boards or building a house that will be a home? What about types of materials being nailed?  Who is buying the nail driver?  Are nail drivers even necessary?

See the difference?  Ideas will start flowing once we look under the surface.

The choice is yours

You can choose to design for “The Reality”.  You can make another hammer, another beer, another beer container.

But understand the “Truth Behind the Reality” and you will design products and services that Ignite experiences.

Make the resolution and stick to it.  

I resolve to look for, and design for, the Truth behind the Reality.

The world will thank you!

 

 

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Posted in creativity, Design, Disruptive Innovation, innovation, Innovation Tools, observation, problem solving, Research, Service Design, Technology, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lessons on Innovating Using Cornstraints (It’s Not a Typo)

Posted by Plish on June 6, 2016

Now that we’re in the season of barbecues and beer, let’s delve into innovating using constraints.  For this post we’ll look at innovating how we eat corn on the cob, so we should probably call them “Cornstraints” (Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉 )

Typically, eating corn on the cob is a delicious but messy process because the cob can be slathered with butter, salt, pepper, mayo, pepper sauce, etc. (Corn must be delicious! – User applied constraints).  Most people don’t want this on their fingers (Keep fingers clean –A user applied constraint).  Not to mention, corn cobs are remarkably efficient at retaining heat (an inherent constraint), so holding them at the ends can be challenge if they were recently plucked out of boiling water.

Doing a quick Google search shows people are pretty much dealing with these constraints already.

Capturea.PNG

Most innovations in this space deal with ways of holding the corn.  Inserting sticks or holding the ears of the corn seem to be the most common solutions.  Using napkins or some other intermediate device are also ways of minimizing mess, improving grip, and increasing comfort.

How else can we improve the eating experience?

  1. Who says we have to hold it?  It’s a choice – a user applied constraint.  We can, as some people with dental work do, cut off the corn and eat it with a fork.  We can also use a power drill (as has been done by some folks on YouTube)  but this brings up whether we should ignore another  user applied constraint: All the kernels need to end up in the mouth .  We could also design a corn stand that holds the cob for us; or for that matter, we could ask a friend to hold it for us so we don’t get our own hands gummed up.  This then brings up a possible constraint: Eating Corn on the Cob shouldn’t cause us to lose friends.
  2. Since the center of the cob is often hot, what if we cook the corn without heating the core?  Think of ways to do this and have fun with solar heaters or blow torches!  For that matter, let’s work with the reverse of the constraint (Corn needs to be served hot) and create a delicious COLD corn dish!  What about chemically ‘cooking’ the corn?  We can use enzymes or chemicals to convert the corn into something delectable and yet cool.   Or what if we slice the corn cob into 1/4″ slices so that corn chips takes on a new meaning? 😉  Since they’re thinner, the centers will cool faster and be easier to hold.  Plus, the corn can now be dipped into whatever sauce we want!  We ignore one user constraint (Corn cob must be whole) and turn another on its head (The entire cob must be slathered with the same substance)
  3.  The center of the cob is typically not edible (Inherent Constraint).  So let’s make it edible!  Can we inject it with something prior to cooking it so that it softens and tastes good?

I could go on, but let’s take a look at what I’ve done.

At the heart of all the above ideas is a questioning of the constraint.  Why do we have to buy in to the constraint?  Let’s change it.  Who cares if it’s inherent in the product – work around it!   Personally I like looking at the opposite of what the constraint implies and then find a way to make that reality.  What’s very interesting (and fruitful!) is that as one starts playing with the alteration of constraints, new constraints inevitably pop up.  This makes sense because once constraints get changed, the whole context can change.  This change in context demands that we ask new questions and probe the new constraints that are formed.

So, the next time you’re eating corn on the cob, think about ways of changing the eating experience.  It might make for a great discussion at a party!  I’d love to hear your ideas for changing the experience by experimenting with cornstraints. 🙂

 

 

 

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, design thinking, Disruptive Innovation, Food, innovation, Innovation Tools, Service Design, Social Innovation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Technology Driven Design or Customer Centered Innovation? – The Imodium Experience

Posted by Plish on April 6, 2016

Think back to your last experience with…

diarrhea.

Yes, you read correctly.  Take a few moments and think about it.  Name at least five things that you feel when you have diarrhea.  It’s probably not hard because  those experiences are typically extremely visceral.

Urgency, cramping, sweat, embarrassment, loud, runny, running….  the list goes on.

Now, name five things that you typically need to deal with diarrhea.

Toilet paper, water, underwear, anti-diarrhea medication, an open toilet, Gatorade…

Nowhere in either of these two lists did you see scissors mentioned did you?

I can hear what you’re thinking, “Plish, why the heck would I think of fricking scissors??!?”

Check this out:

Yes, scissors!

So, what’s behind this packaging debacle?

Well, it’s surely not customer-centered needs.  While it is about stopping diarrhea, it’s not about improving people’s experiences with diarrhea.

At the core,  it’s about Technology.

I haven’t interviewed anyone at McNeil about the packaging.  But I’ve seen this phenomenon before.  You see, McNeil sees the contents of this package as its product.  It’s all about the drug, and packaging the drug was driven by technology.

The manufacturing facility has scores of cool, hi-tech packaging machines that can safely, securely,  deposit and seal loperamide (Imodium) caplets in their foil/paper  blister chambers.  These packets keep the white caplet inside safe from harm as thousands of boxes rattle around in a truck, and/or are thrown around at shipping docks.  Then, when the card of tablets is stuffed in a pocket or purse, the packaging needs to protect the precious, effective cargo.

Unfortunately, nowhere in this list is the customer experience.

The end result then is a hard to open package that includes (mindblowing) directions for using scissors in case the person opening it can’t tear the plastic.

What is interesting is that on the Imodium website you can read the following:

IMODIUM® A-D EZ Chews begin to dissolve quickly. And when you have diarrhea, fast relief can never come too soon. IMODIUM® A-D EZ Chews work fast, so you can get out of the bathroom and back to the things you love.

So, with the EZ Chews, they acknowledge the need for quick resolution, but curiously don’t figure this into the packaging experience in their other products.

How did they get here?

As I said before, this product was driven by technology.  While the drug was tested for efficacy,  and while the package keeps the drug safe,  the lesson here is that the product, Imodium, isn’t just a little pill*, it’s the pill and packaging – the whole experience of opening and taking the medication (which incidentally is done while people are in a, um, compromised state).

The takeaways?

  1. Look beyond the product and look at the experience.
  2. Don’t expect technology to automatically create a good experience.
  3. Think about the packaging! (Anyone out there thinking about battery packaging??) Oh, the presence of a certain packaging machine in your plant doesn’t mean that it’s a fit for every project.
  4. Streamline the process of opening the package while still keeping your package contents safe.
  5. Use some empathy! Understand what people are going through before, during, and after, touching your product.

The good news is that if you look at this list, especially number 5, there is clearly an opportunity for innovation in this space.

I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of diarrhea packaging, but just hopefully it’s not as a user. 😉

*-Imodium is available in  other configurations, such as a liquid.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Healthcare, innovation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brand Strategy and Design – One Collective Voice at FUSE 2015

Posted by Plish on March 23, 2015

Yes, one of my favorite conferences is coming up and I hope to see you there!

FUSE 2015

From April 13-15  in Chicago, Illinois, the Loews Hotel will be home to a provocative and inspiring mix of leaders in Design, Brand Strategy, Marketing, Innovation, Trends, and Strategy.  For 3 days you will have an opportunity to learn, network and enjoy stimulating talks, workshops and more.

I always leave FUSE with a mindful of ideas and things to share.  To aid my recall, I capture my experiences of FUSE in concept maps.  You can go to Slideshare and check out my maps of DAY 1 and DAY 2 from last year.

Looking forward to seeing you there and hearing your experiences!!

Posted in Brands, creativity, Design, design thinking, innovation, Service Design, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Designing Delighting Moments – Sing “Hello” to Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja

Posted by Plish on October 14, 2014

This video is the definition of delighting customers.

It’s no secret that delighting customers is extremely profitable. But it can also have another side effect.  It can create a better world.

Enter Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja.  This “Singing Doctor” has sung to more than 8000 babies as they entered the world.  His expression of joy, at a time of joy, brings joy to healthcare practitioners and patients alike.

Says Dr. Andrew-Jaja, :”Each of us has to find a way — in medicine and other walks of life — to communicate a cheerfulness to those we work for and with, and it keeps everybody happy.”

Or, as Disney says: “Every leader is telling a story about what they value.”

It’s the commitment to a value that empowers someone to stand firm in those behaviors that may elicit judgment.  This Doctor values the joy of a new life being born, and thus creates an environment of joy, anticipation, and excitement through song.  Everyone present can’t help but be touched.  In fact, people even make musical requests ahead of time!

What is truly amazing about this, is that if someone were tasked with designing a more delightful birthing experience there would no doubt be suggestions around the check-in and discharge processes, the use of the best drugs, pleasant and calming aromas and colors in the patient rooms, etc..  Perhaps someone would suggest music in the background.  But, few would suggest that the doctor lead everyone present at the birth, in a chorus of “Happy Birthday!”

Delight is a phenomenon of the Now.  It is about presence.  If you want people to experience delight, delight must be present.  Presence is best mediated through personal interaction.  I’m here, with you.  You’re here, with me.  We are together. This is what we are experiencing!  This is ours, this is yours.  Own it. Revel in it. Be free to experience it.

Research shows that delighting customers starts with putting employees first.  By doing this, delight is made present in  employees.  This pool of delight can then be freely experienced by others.

Remember this video.

Think of what it represents.

Joy. Courage. Family. Life. Love.

This is delight!

Now, make that present in your day.

Posted in Authenticity, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Healthcare, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

When a Company Won’t Give What it Clearly Has – Designing Customer Experience

Posted by Plish on September 25, 2014

Have you ever asked for a side of Apple Chips at Panera Bread?  These are the responses I usually get:

“Sure” (He/She then types in a special instruction on the screen and I get apple chips)

“Sure” (He/She can’t find the button on the register for ‘Apple Chips’ so he/she calls the manager who then responds:)

“I”m sorry but we can’t do that.” (after which I beg and plead to no avail, except for one time when a manager responded:)

“Since you’re getting a Fuji Apple salad, and that has apple chips on it, I can add another side of apple chips.”

When turned down once, I even offered to pay extra for apple chips. The response?

“Sorry, there’s no way for me to process that payment.”

Understand, it’s not like I’m asking for something that’s not on the menu.  It’s used as a garnish on the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Oatmeal.    But, somewhere there is an (un?)official edict that “Thou shalt not give apple chips unless with a salad or Oatmeal.”

I’m sure that it’s probably a cost issue.  The apple chips are more expensive than regular chips, and thus don’t provide the profit margins that Panera would like, especially when they’re being given away as a side.

 That still doesn’t explain the stupidity of not supplying them to a customer who offers to buy them!

This isn’t only Panera though.  Cable and Satellite companies do something similar but dress it up differently.

Become a Subscriber now and receive 12 months of service for $24.99* a month!

What’s especially painful about this offer is that people who have been subscribers for 5 years don’t get the offer.  They still have to pay $54.99 a month.  The loyal customer gets shafted, the newcomer gets rewarded.

How is this like the Panera situation?

In both cases, a company has something but will only share it on their terms, not on the customers.  Panera has apple chips, Cable/Satellite/Cell companies have price breaks that they’re not willing to give to loyal, long-standing customers.

Don’t get me wrong.  Companies have every right to portion out their profits/losses how they want. But, it comes down to these simple questions:

Are your customers important to you?

Do you want them to have an amazing experience of your services and/or food?

Do you believe growth is directly related to how you treat your customers?

Steven S. Little, author of the wonderful “The MilkShake Moment: Overcoming Stupid Systems, Pointless Policies and Muddled Management to Realize Real Growth,” makes a point for the importance of valuing the customer, the person, over policy and profits.  Profits will follow when the customer is placed first.

It’s not complicated.

It’s simply about having the guts to care about people, to be willing to act in simple, but profound ways that scream, “You are important to me!” without fear of being called on the carpet by Corporate.  It’s about making someone a milkshake even when it’s not officially on the menu; or in my case, giving me a cup of Apple Chips.

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Service Design | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Never Underestimate the Power of Beauty

Posted by Plish on September 15, 2013

Think about this, next time you’re designing a product, a service – an experience…

Looks Like Cow Poop to Me

If a fly lands on your food, or your hand:

Wave your hand,

chase it away,

try to kill it!

flies are dirty

they land on manure and waste…
King of the Hill

If a butterfly lands on your food, or your hand:

pause,

don’t move,

gaze in wonder

it’s a sign…

it doesn’t matter where it’s been

it’s here now

and that’s all that matters…

Posted in Arts, Design, Experience, nature, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sound, Remembering, and Sleeping – An Innovative way to Design Memorable Experiences

Posted by Plish on April 22, 2013

The idea of learning while we sleep has been around for almost a hundred years.  It turns out that getting information while we sleep doesn’t appear to be a terribly successful way of learning. But all is not lost.

If we learn something and sleep on it, we do in fact process information and thus can retain and categorize information more effectively.

Now, researchers have determined that if a sound is experienced along with something that we want to remember, hearing that sound again helped recall the original experience.  In addition, if that sound is heard while we sleep, it seems to cement the memory of the experience even more than simply re-hearing the sound in a waking state.

In other words, if you see a picture of a cow, and you hear a ticking clock, just hearing that ticking clock the next day will probably help you remember the cow.  However, it you hear that same ticking clock sound while you’re sleeping, your ability to remember the picture of the cow will be improved greatly when you hear the ticking.

So,  it appears that sonic branding, like I  discussed last week, can even have a more powerful impact if those sounds can be heard while people sleep.  This could create a powerful way to remember experiences if say, audio brands were interspersed in relaxing music that played while we slept.

It could also be used to design classroom experiences. Key points in a lecture could have musical notes or sounds as an accompaniment.  Those sounds could be given to students in MP3 form so they can listen to those sounds when they study and sleep.  They could replay those sounds later to help with recall.

I could see it used as well for training purposes.  People do a certain task to certain musical tones.  When they’re first learning, they can listen to those tones as they sleep.

What if operating rooms had musical sequences to help nurses, techs and surgeons remember pre-operative prepping procedures?

How could you see this research being used?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Brands, cognitive studies, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, innovation, Research, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Makes Successful Products, Services and Brands?

Posted by Plish on April 27, 2012

“If I eat a pink cake, the taste of it is pink; the light sugary perfume, the oiliness of the butter cream are the pink.  Thus I eat the pink as I see the sugary.”

–(Jean-Paul Sartre, “The Hole,” in Existentialism and Human Emotions (New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993), 89)

What do successful brands and innovative products/services have in common?

Hint: The solution comes via Sartre’s thoughts.

Answer: Consistency.

Think of it…

What would you do if you bit into an elegantly frosted, pink cake and it tasted of garlic?

How consistent is the message that comes from the experience of your company, service or product?

Do the textures, shapes, smells, sounds, flavors, and colors harmonize in creating the emotional experience that you want?

If your product is pink, does it taste pink?

Posted in Brands, Design, Emotions, Experience, innovation, Service Design, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Innovating For (and From) the Fringe

Posted by Plish on January 21, 2012

One of my favorite TV shows is Fringe.  It’s tale of parallel universes and the FBI’s, Fringe Division team, and their fight against inter-dimensional, and/or high technology crime.

The whole concept of the fringe, is a loaded one.  It is the place where the familiar feathers into unfamiliarity; where rules change and people must innovate and use technology creatively, simply to survive.  It’s the place of exile, the place of wonder and mystery.  Fringes are fragile – they fray.  They give the appearance of solidness but only until one touches them.  Then, they become ethereal webs that elicit unsure steps of probing instead of the surefooted steps of conviction.

The TV show depicts these fringe events as truly out of the ordinary.

The truth is, fringe events are around us everywhere.  When I buy a drink for someone at a bar and hand it off, that moment when I’m letting go and the person is receiving, is a type of fringe event.  When I click on a link and wait for the next screen to reveal itself, that is a fringe moment.  These exchanges of objects, states and information, facilitated by the interaction of two people (or at least a person and an object), are fringe moments.

Oh sure, they’re not rips in the space-time continuum, but they are moments when everything hangs in a balance of ‘what-ifs?’.

They are also moments ripe for creative innovation.  They are the moments when improv actors can create brilliance or grey.  They are the moments when health care providers can seamlessly transfer information and improve healthcare, or they can be moments of confusion – planting the seeds for future accidents.

In order to innovate in the fringe, it requires that we understand, and design for, what each person, or object is expecting to give and get.  There are two universes present on either side of the fringe event, each with its own rules. The operating laws of these universes need to be accurately ascertained in order to design appropriately and creatively.  Oh sure, we can assume what each party wants, but to really create magic, we need to know the local laws of interaction and provide an environment for synergy.

If we commit ourselves to the study of the moment – if we seek to understand the objects, interactions and suppositions that brought about that moment – we innovate from the fringe and in so doing, for the people and objects creating the fringe moment.   We become crafters of portals – doorways through which experience and objects pass.

Let’s not take this task lightly.  Whether professional or amateur:

We really do have it in our power to shape experiences in the universe. 

Posted in Conveying Information, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, Healthcare, innovation, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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