Design a Beautiful Experience and Change a Life.

Our hangout series, “Innovation by Design” continued this week with “Transformation Experiences: Designing with the Customer in Mind”. Our innovation and design experts from UnitedHealth Group and Bose explored the challenges and benefits that come with creating transformational customer experiences and how companies can design for these experiences themselves.

Our panelists:

UnitedHealth Group (Optum) – Ed Boudrot, VP of Product Management

Bose – Debra Reich, User Experience Design Strategist for Consumer Wellness

Reminding us of an important topic he had elaborated on in our October hangout “Designing to Solver Customer-driven Problems”, Ed kicked off the panel discussion stressing that great design means “being in your customer’s living room and gaining empathy for whom you are serving. You need to seek to understand the customer pains in their journey.”

Debra reinforced this with an anecdote about a peripheral that won all sorts of design awards but no one bought it. What was the problem with the design? It was never researched with customers before going to market. We did not uncover the “base need of our customer” and it proved to be fatal.

Do You Know Your Customer’s “Base Need”?

The key to successful design is to look at the base need of your customer. Ed runs Fusion sessions to better understand the problem they’re solving for. And while “…ethnographic research is critical, so is the synthesizing that needs to be done after the research. Spending enough time synthesizing is how you start to evolve and find the true pain points and discover the base needs. It is a true art.”

Debra added that Bose looks to “literature and Google foundational research and hires experts to speak with before going out into the field. This helps us generate a list of hypotheses of what we may be able to do to help the customers.”  However, it’s important not to make assumptions or hypotheses that cannot be changed when seeking to uncover base needs.

Design Thinking Is Iterative

Building prototypes to learn from is essential, as Design Thinking is an iterative process and not “one and done”. You need to see how the prototypes are used. How customers react to them. You also need to consider the buyer needs as well as the customer needs when these are different.

Ed’s Fusion team is able to “think differently, run experiments, and do deep work that yields fast, effective results.” This helps make them the go-to team to help solve hard problems. It is critical to iterate, iterate, iterate. He referenced “Ten Types of Innovation” as a great resource that provides solid principles to bring meaningful and sustainable growth to organizations.

The key to human-centered design as Ed said is to “prove your experiments along the way. Get constant feedback. What are you seeking to learn?” Continuous design is important to driving to a transformative solution.

Leading to a New Way of Thinking

Both Debra and Ed talked about how they interact with people that have a fixed mindset every day and yet how important it is create that “1-degree shift that leads them to a new way of thinking.” Ed’s blog “The Leadership Edge, Three Critical Elements” shares more on this. And also check out the hangout “How to Create a Culture of Innovation” where U.S. Bank and American Greetings discuss how to help shift to a culture to be more open to innovation.

Seeing a product in action is telling, and tells a story. Debra gets excited about going to so many people’s homes to see how they use Bose. This equips her with video that “can provide the emotional nuggets that can help sell ideas internally. Storytelling is a great way to get the message across.”

What is a Truly Transformative Experience?

Ed said it is always important to ask “What can we do differently to change a mindset? Jobs-to-be-done can create a shift in mindset. Think about partnering opportunities, too. For example, Med Express held a Fusion session and went through patient experiences. One example was when someone is home with a cold and needs to get to an Emergency Care Clinic. To elevate the experience we discussed partnering with Uber to offer a mobile app to schedule their appointment while ordering a ride to the clinic.”

He stressed that to truly find aspirational transformative opportunities, you need to do ethnographic research and immerse yourself with your customer so you can experience someone’s day. “We’re all looking to put that beautiful experience out there that changes someone’s life.”

To be “transformative” in design is to improve someone’s life in a breakthrough way. Like giving nurses one device to record information after observing their daily routine instead of the multiple devices they were forced to juggle previously to meet client needs. It created an improved experience for both nurse and patient. Better still, the nurses no longer had to use their evenings to transcribe data allowing them to spend more time with family or doing things for themselves.

Debra stated, “At Bose I don’t care whether the speaker sounds great. I care if I am delivering an experience that calms them down, energizes them for their workout or makes a party more social. I don’t care as much about the product performance. I care more about what the product does for their lifestyle…I love thinking I can make their life at least a little easier.”

And speaking of parties, Altitude helped Jarden develop the Margaritaville Premium Frozen Drink Maker. They came to us for another blender design and we evolved this by interviewing people on various uses and desires for blenders. For example, what avid party goers care about, what makes the perfect margarita and learned that people can use the blender as a conversation piece and want easy clean up and that a perfect margarita includes shaved ice. So we designed a premium priced frozen drink maker that shaved ice and entered Jarden into a new category selling over 1M products in the 1st 5 years. We used the iterative process of listening to consumers and asking “why” to uncover the real customer need and perceived value.

And speaking of making a party the best it can be, Altitude helped Jarden develop the Margaritaville Premium Frozen Drink Maker. They came to us for another blender design and we evolved this by interviewing people on various uses and desires for blenders. We learned what avid party goers care about, what makes the perfect margarita and that people can use the blender as a conversation piece. The easy clean up and perfect margarita, complete with shaved ice, made for an exceptional experience. This design entered Jarden into a new category selling over 1M products in the first 5 years. We used the iterative process of listening to consumers and asking “why” to uncover the real customer need and perceived value.

For a good resource to help measure perceived value and other success metrics, Debra suggested checking out “Winning Businesses in Product Development”.

For more on this topic, listen to the complete hangout, “Transformation Experiences: Designing with the Customer in Mind”.

Gretchen Hoffman

Posted By: 

Gretchen Hoffman

VP Marketing