Great article. I’m starting to think we should be sending 10 percent of our salaries to Fast Company.
If you start with “useful” as a first principle, then you automatically place customer need and experience first. And you’re less inclined to get lost in your own jargon, product-development silos, or legacy.
Financial services like Zopa or the recently launched Simple (first known as BankSimple) are taking customer needs into account by addressing the frustration associated with the traditional banking system. Zopa shifts control away from conventional banking by encouraging peer-to-peer lending. And Simple creates a user-experience layer on top of standard bank partners that is more human, more modern, and more transparent. It speaks to customers in terms of personal savings goals and cuts through the jargon of the banking industry.
Being useful doesn’t always mean asking the focus group. It’s fair to say that customers don’t always know what they want. Customers now play an increasingly equal, participatory, and critical role in brand and business. But co-creation should not be accepted as a default solution to every challenge. Even when consumers do know what they want, empowering them to create it might not result in the most impressive solution. Observing consumers is usually a more effective way of discovering unmet or poorly met needs, and can reveal hacked solutions that suggest real opportunities of how to be useful in the world.
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