Determining, developing and delivering your customer experience is an Outside-in process. Too many companies make the mistake of thinking that they know what is best for their customers. Oftentimes they may think that by asking their customers for input they will no longer be perceived as being the expert. As the experience leaders know, these are both false assumptions – it is only by engaging your customers in your experience design process will you be able to exceed their expectations and create advocates for your brand.
And remember that Users are not Designers and Designers and not Users. You can ask your customers what they want but they can only give you insight into the incremental improvement that they are concerned with their immediate needs. They do not have your aggregated insight that you have across your customers and new technologies. And Designers are not users. They may guess what users want – but it’s just guessing… It could be smart guesses based on industry standards and design best practices – but there is no guarantee that this is what your customers want or need.
You should engage your customers as often as needed through the design process. Iteratively reviews your designs with your target customers to vet concepts, validate designs and evaluate the final experience.
When validating your new idea to the market, educate your customers so they can put your solution in a new context. This paradigm shift for the customer may not come easy and they may not immediately understand the value of your solution—especially if you can’t put it in context for them. Being able to put your solution in context for your customer and users is the key for validating the solution meets their needs and is easy to use.
Validate where various customers’ workflow and content overlap and differ, and start thinking about the right design solution to support the differences in their workflow and content.
As you conduct iterative reviews with your various target customers, something magical happens… an insight that you learn from one customer and incorporate into your solution makes you look like a genius to another customer. And as you integrate all your customer insights into your solutions, you look like a genius to your market!
So be a genius and learn from your customers.