Guiding Product Development Through Customer Feedback
Customer experience is a top priority for product developers. In a report done by Walker, it estimated that by next year, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator.
In the product development stage and beyond, customers should be at the forefront. Places like Microsoft, for example, are developing systems for developers to work alongside customers to help improve their technology and product offerings, and have seen astronomical results in doing so. This is something that can easily be implemented in the product development of smaller companies, and gradually be implemented in bigger companies and initiatives as well.
In an article by Entrepreneur.com, Dan Behrendt, Technical Communications Director at Microsoft, shared some of the lessons Microsoft has learned in working alongside their customers to improve their products and technology:
Businesses today are often out of touch with their customers and their customers needs. This in turn means that they are slow to innovate and deliver products that solve the problems that customers have. With Microsoft’s approach of what they call “open hacks”, they are involving customers in the process of gaining a deep understanding of what they need. This can help companies not only discover the needs of customers, but also the hidden problems that arise when an external customer is using the product.
Solve Problems with Inviting Customers to Hackfests
Many companies would never dream about taking their hackfests externally, however, this can provide you with such valuable information to improve your product development. It provides a huge opportunity for everyone (internally & externally) to learn together, and from one another. It’ll also help convert customers into partners, versus seeing you negatively.
By involving clients and customers in your product development, you’ll be able to collect valuable information about what the most important people think of your product. As designers, we can often get stuck in our own heads, and internal opinions of a product, that we lose sight of what a consumer or external party sees and notices about it. By nurturing these relationships with your customers, you’ll not only show them that you care, but you’ll also develop a loyal and appreciative client base. Listening to what customers have to say goes a long way. Making improvements based off what they have to say, goes even further.
A few ways to gather customer feedback are:
- Send out customer feedback surveys or incorporate them into your website, email messaging
- Email customers that leave reviews, or that are on your email list
- Host a focus group
- Ask questions and evaluate feedback on social media
- Enable comment boxes for consumers to easily be able to tell you how they feel
- Read online forums and threads
What ways do you gather feedback to help improve your product development?
If you have a great new invention and you’d like to learn more about this process, get in touch with MAKO here and visit our website to find out more. Feel free to give us a call at 1-888-MAKO and we can set you up on a call with our product analyst!
Article Author: MAKO Design + Invent
MAKO Design + Invent is a full-service consumer product development firm servicing both high-growth corporate manufacturers and invention startups. With a 25-person team across 3 offices (Austin, England, Toronto), MAKO has complete in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering design and prototyping services. To assist our start-up inventor clients, we also have a subsidiary branch called Mako Invent that, in addition to above, helps start-ups with patenting, strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. For our corporate clients, MAKO Design develops world-class consumer electronics designs through our industrial, mechanical, and electrical design teams.
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