Why a user-centred approach can help secure your investment?

Imagine that one day you decide to start a new business, you will start making chairs! You have some ideas of how you want to design them, the materials you would like to use and how you are going to sell them. You get started, you buy everything you need, you invest time, energy and money on it, hoping that it will pay back.

It might pay back or it might not. There are many chairs out there, why would people want yours? What kind of people is your chair relevant for? What do these people look for when they decide to buy a chair? How will your chairs make a difference or be relevant to them at all? What materials, colours, designs are the ones that bring value and you can offer? When and where are the right moments and places to make your chairs available? Why are your chairs different from all the other ones?

You can go ahead with your own plan, try and see how it goes if you can afford a lot of trial and error, or you can start answering these questions beforehand so that you know what is the best way to do it, if it’s worth making these chairs, or if actually there is a good opportunity for you in adapted chairs.

This that seems common sense in a simple example becomes very blurry and less obvious in “real life”.

Fast can be expensive

Many times, and specially in medium and big companies, decisions are made thinking only in short term financial business goals, personal preferences and gut feelings or prioritising deadlines and time rush over effectiveness.

The focus on the “quick win” and the short term view has an impact on the experience of your end-users because you can easily miss on key elements, which for sure will impact on the perception of your brand and your product or service, resulting in negative word of mouth and loss of loyalty from your customers in the longer run. But you can also be missing relevant opportunities or just get too late to provide a differentiated experience.

In any of these cases, it always results in a loss of money, time and resources in the mid and longer term.

Allow yourself time in order to win time (and save money and efforts)

Allow yourself time to involve users in the process because it might delay your deadlines a bit, but once you move forward you won’t need to go back again. Otherwise, it might seem to you initially that will be faster or more agile, but it’s just an illusion, sooner or later you will have to walk backwards again and usually in a less convenient moment.

You can’t start a house by the ceiling, it wouldn’t last long and it wouldn’t be safe nor efficient. This is exactly the same.

Co-create with your audience

If you plan things with time in advance, you will be ready to have what you need without perceiving any impact on timings. Here are some easy and not expensive ways to make sure that you are building the right thing for your users:

  • Invite users and make them participate in the process of creating the product, service or solution. You can organise one or several workshops between your internal teams and your customers, ask them about their habits and expectations, make them sketch their desired solution or ask them for feedback and suggestions on your initial ideas.
  • Show your initial ideas on your social media channels and ask your audience for feedback and votes on the ideas they like the most.
  • Give some basic “prototypes” to a few users for a some days and ask them to write a diary or record themselves while they use it, with feedback and suggestions.

It is key that you involve your audience as soon as possible in the early stages of the project (this is what will make you win time and save money and efforts!) and you keep them involved throughout the whole process, even after the solution is built and launched, through satisfaction surveys and gathering opinions from different channels (online and offline).

Remember! Involving your audience in the process will make them take ownership on it as well, building a closer and long lasting relation with your customers. Make sure that you share the outputs of their feedback with them too, it’s just a matter of reciprocity and part of building a close relation with your customers – if you are invited to have your say in a project, you’d also like to see the outcomes of your contribution, right?

Build a strong relation with all the customer-facing roles, they will be your best allies and key stakeholders in this. They have a daily relation with your users, they know exactly what’s happening to them, what people value the most and what users are complaining about, and this is key information for you to keep building a strong and differentiated solution. Identify opportunities to secure the loyalty of your audience over the time and a positive recommendation and word of mouth that in the mid and long term will increase your customer base and impact in your revenue.

If you are interested in learning more about this, you can join the Concept testing course to test your ideas at earlier stages and be more efficient.

Conclusion

  • Remember that your audience is also part of your organisation, whether you are a big company or an independent professional, they are your reason to be.
  • Make sure they have their say in what you do and you will be building a base of supporters that will be telling you what they need and expect from you, which will help you make the most of your investments by putting your resources in the right direction, reducing your efforts in the mid and longer run. It’s a win-win for all!