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How to be more customer centric with Continuous Product Design.

November 16, 2021 By: Alex Torres

Just this week, the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services published a study called “Aligning Your Entire Organization Around the Customer.” The study shows how to be more customer centric by embracing Quantum Metric’s own methodology, Continuous Product Design. 

Here’s a look at why customer centricity is more important than ever before. 

The shift from in-person to digital-first customer centricity. 

Before the days of the internet, large enterprises across every sector depended on their brick-and-mortar stores. Their employees were told, “the customer is always right.” These companies were, by default, customer centric. 

But as time went on, these in-person experiences became less and less important, especially as the digital-first mindset took over. Now, customers want fast, seamless, and personalized user experiences across all of their devices–phones, tablets, desktops, even Apple Watches. 

For companies born in the dawn of the digital era, the need for digital transformation is more important than ever before, especially with fierce competition from digital native brands like Amazon.

Even as enterprises built out their digital channels, they largely depended on a multi-channel approach to the business. This meant that in-store and digital operations were separate and distinct. 

To succeed in today’s world, brands need to shift towards an omnichannel approach. With an omnichannel approach, the in-person and online experiences complement and build off of each other. In fact, the omnichannel strategy led to customer centric innovations such as BOPIS and curbside pickups. 

Digital products are as important as the products you sell.

Your mobile app. Your social media presence. Your desktop browser. Being customer centric means having a strong grasp on all of your digital channels. 

In today’s fiercely competitive market, your digital channels are just as important as the products and services you sell. Retailers won’t win by selling the best T-shirts alone. 

If a website or app isn’t working as expected, customers can easily go to another website and purchase the exact same product, or at least a similar one. 

Improving your digital products is sometimes as simple as moving a button around, or reducing the number of steps in a workflow. Customers abandon carts for a number of reasons, but usually it’s because the process was too slow, they couldn’t see the order total upfront, or some technical error caused the website to crash. 

Unfortunately, traditional analytics tools like Google Analytics can’t tell you why users didn’t click on a button, or what design choices caused them to abandon their carts. 

Going beyond traditional approaches to data and analytics.

Employees have access to more analytics tools than ever before. They’ve been empowered with technology, but poor alignment on how to use the tools leads to chaos and confusion. 

By nature, each team–from engineering to IT to product–works with their own sets of data and KPIs. This means that different teams draw different conclusions for the same problem. Then data silos form, which means that companies struggle to figure out how to prioritize what matters most for their customers. 

What organizations need, then, is a complete and consistent view of their customers across channels and platforms. They need:

  • Real-time analytics, so that they can address problems as soon as possible–and before they impact more users.
  • First-party data, so that they understand how customers are interacting with the product itself. 
  • Qualitative data, which is available through tools like session replay and heatmaps.
  • Quantitative data, which focuses on how KPIs like revenue and conversion rates. 

In 2021, it’s too late to learn about technical errors from drops in revenue, and you definitely don’t want to hear about design flaws from a surge in call center complaints or a flurry of angry social media posts. 

Here’s how Continuous Product Design helps with customer centricity. 

So now that you know being more customer centric requires capturing the right kinds of data, what should you do next? 

To accomplish just that, Quantum Metric created Continuous Product Design, a methodology helps companies address cultural barriers of pushback, complexity, and silos. CPD builds on agile by applying the product development methodology across the entire organization. 

With Continuous Product Design, organizations connect customer signals to every part of the digital product lifecycle. This way, teams can better understand the actual impact that their features and products will have on customers, revenue, and the business. 

As it turns out, taking a customer-centric approach to your digital products isn’t necessarily about listening to the customer’s direct feedback. Sometimes, customers say one thing, but actually mean another. It’s better to understand what your customers are actually doing. 

The bottom line? Being truly customer centric is about anticipating problems and innovating ahead of customer expectations, which is how today’s biggest tech companies stay ahead of the curb. 

So how do you balance speed with the ability to design, test, and optimize? 

Many companies move slowly because the highest paid person in the room (HiPPO) makes decisions on the product roadmap, often without considering what will drive value for customers. 

Once business and tech teams have access to a single source of truth, they have a much easier team enabling cross-team alignment. This means shifting from top-drawn, process-driven decision making to a data-driven approach that flattens hierarchies. 

Companies need to continuously evolve the customer experience to meet the needs of our customers. The solution? Move away from project and pipeline thinking, and focus more on platform and product thinking. 

Data analytics help put the human in the equation and keep your organization customer centric.

What many companies forget about customer centricity is that there is a human on the other side of the equation. 

At the end of the day, these data-driven approaches to product development should lead to warm, friendly, helpful, intuitive, and reliable user experiences. This is especially important for users with accessibility challenges. 

Customer data shows what customers value most and where the frustration lies. Follow the data and you can avoid your team becoming a “features factory,” which means building tools mandated by managers and executives, or simply following what other companies are doing—all without thinking about what those features will do for your business. 

Interested in learning more about how Continuous Product Design can make your organization more customer centric? Join Quantum Metric Feb. 8-9 for our annual user conference, Quantum LEAP 2022. Register today for virtual tickets. 

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