Connect the Dots From Product to User Experience


Share on LinkedIn

Macs and iPods have legions of fans. But Apple has done something else with its Apple Stores. It has wired in the experience of its stores to make them destinations. They are like Starbucks for teenagers. They have become destinations because the experience is wrapped around the product—and around the communities of people using, talking about and gathering to use the product.

Jesse James Garrett, president of Adaptive Path, has a good description of the typical store in his article, Six Design Lessons From the Apple Store, July 9, 2004:

The Apple Store has become the “Starbucks” of the tweens and twenty-somethings because of the experience and how you feel when you’re inside. There’s a demo theater that appeals to gadget maniacs everywhere. There’s sitting areas. The store is organized by how you USE the products rather than down the standard product delineations. They also practice “the pearl theory” in messaging. Rather than bombarding visitors with signs, signs and more signs. The “conversation” is spare on purpose to point you in the right direction and to create the peace and experience of the space. Wouldn’t want anything interrupting this version of what is hallowed to Apple zealots. Finally, the store is as agile as bricks and mortar can be. Displays and the aesthetic are simple to be able to accommodate the changing theatre that is Apple, its products and the experience of visiting an Apple store.

Apple’s strength is what I would call a product “power core.”

Every company has a power core. You’ll usually find one or more of them of them to be the dominant factor in decision-making and direction in your company. Power cores may be in your product, your sales, your marketing, you vertical business, your technology or your customers.

When you are a product power core company, the resources of your company are focused on product development, your competitive position in the marketplace and knowing how to retain it. The focus of what is built—the physical product—is usually on the customer. But the experience wrapped around that physical product across the organization is where the vulnerability exists.

Figure 1

This ability to think and connect the dots from product through to user experience and service experience will take some doing. Why? Because the natural focus of the business is on building, not the experience afterward. Each of the silos or operating areas decides how that goes on- completely on its own. And that lack of integrated experience often is what erodes the emotional attachment customers have for a product. So how do you create an integrated experience around your product? There are five major components:

  1. Stay with what you know naturally to build traction. Find a way to build a very strong pipeline from customers to the researchers, developers and builders of your products.

    This “feed” says to the power core, “we know we’re about the product, so let’s make sure we’re getting all the counsel we can from our customers.” For example, software companies can benefit directly when they have an Internet feed that sends real-time information on product usage, success and failures directly from customers to the developers.

  2. Expand the customer feedback system. Once you’ve proven the value of product-development-specific feedback, you’ll have earned the right, and also expanded the appetite to, hear about processes and other parts of the experience that require improvements.


  3. Trend and track issues that come from your customer feedback system and begin to drive accountability. Work on the top 10 customer issues by doing the rigorous (un-natural, perhaps) process work of mapping the execution of the customer experience. From this, you should identify the current performance and the standards of performance for delivering the experience. Make a date and attach people’s names to the accountability for resolving the issues.

  4. Gain traction through process and review. The customer work typically fails because there is a lack of regularity and commonality to how the problems are dissected and reported on. Create monthly experience review sessions where teams report on the work they are doing to resolve the customer issues. This takes the customer work from the vague (“we don’t know what to work on”) and reactive (“our scores just came out”) to a reliable repeatable process that people anticipate and prepare for.

  5. Begin to incorporate the language of managing your customers as the asset of your business into how you define your business success. I call these “Guerrilla Metrics.” Work with your CEO and executive team to keep asking for this information. Guerrilla Metrics give leadership five questions for commanding customer accountability inside their organizations:

    1. What are our new customers: volume and value?
    2. What are our lost customers: volume and value and reasons?
    3. What customers renewed, at what rate and why?
    4. What is our revenue and profitability by customer group?
    5. What is our referral rate by customer segment?

Through examining your company through the lens of its power core, you’ll uncover the challenges and opportunity that have contributed to your customer experiences. And by identifying and beginning to take these actions, you’ll be able to stair-step your way to integrating the customer into its natural DNA.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here