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Commit to the Customer – not the Technology

Posted in Books, Customer Experience, Experience Design, and mobile

One of our greatest challenges in designing the best experiences for our customers is not letting the technology limitation determine the customer experience. When organizations commit to the technology instead of committing to the customers – everyone loses. In this age of the experience economy, this can mean the end for organizations that do not put the customer experience first.

I was recently visiting with a friend and colleague who worked at Nokia. Since we discussed how Apple won the Smartphone market with the touch experience in chapter one of The Customer Experience Revolution, I had to ask how Nokia missed the boat on touch screen for phones. She explained that Nokia did try touch screen – long before Apple introduced them – and they didn’t test well.

How could that be?

She explained that the underlying technology was too slow for the response time needed for the touch experience. So it was the technology limitation that could not support the best experience.

This is a lesson for all of us. Let’s ensure that we are committed to the best experiences for our customer and find or build technologies that support this. Don’t get caught in the trap of organizations that commit to a technology and limit their abilities to deliver the best experiences for their customers.

4 Comments

  1. While there could be one factor that describes the failure of a product, I think in the case of touch screen devices that it’s more a matter of “death by a thousand cuts”.

    While the customer experience for the response time is certainly important, the lack of a compelling set of other features may have also been other major factors. For instance, if they didn’t have compelling apps, or an easy to use app marketplace & store, customers may have been able to live with the slow response but not without the other features.

    Price, color, shape, service – you need to be obsessive if you’re going to solve these problems in parallel and succeed in the marketplace.

    October 7, 2012
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  2. Erez
    Erez

    Isn’t this a case where Nokia did have the insight but the technology wasn’t there. Sometimes timing is everything. I still have in a box somewhere a sandcasting of a tablet device made by Motorola, using WiFi, for the newly named segment of “Corridor Cruisers”. The problem was – We created it in 1993. Sigh!!!

    October 7, 2012
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  3. Greg Gehrich
    Greg Gehrich

    When you commit to solving customer problems, regardless of the end solution, and you re-evaluate frequently, your product will prosper.

    October 7, 2012
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  4. This is a very powerful concept to grasp if your goal is to delight the customer. So much of today’s Agile methods (Scrum, XP, Kanban, etc.) are focused on efficient, incremental delivery of technology in the hopes of meeting the customer’s needs.

    Another roadblock is the culture that is terrified to kill (or drastically refactor) the sacred cows that have made the company successful. Apple was stuck in this vortex in the 1990s and almost expired. With nothing left to lose, Jobs took the company in the direction that customers were craving: attractive and easy to operate mp3 players and smartphones.

    Why has this simple strategy been so difficult for Microsoft and others to adopt? Is it because they are terrified of offending their sacred cows? I hope if doesn’t take a cardiac event to give them the courage to place a higher premium on their customers than their precious technologies.

    October 7, 2012
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