Observing the Customer Experience

Mark Hust of Good Experience runs a wildly successful and informative conference, Gel, every year that focuses on user experience. One of the key speakers was Alex Lee, president of OXO.

OXO's popular measuring cup

From Good Experience’s blog:

Product developers everywhere could learn a lesson from OXO’s angled measuring cup (shown here), which was born out of some very simple, very smart research.

In the video below, the president of OXO International, Alex Lee, tells about how his researchers observed ordinary consumers using their (non-angled) measuring cups. Users would fill up the cup part way, then bend over to check the level – then fill some more, then bend over again to check the level. This pointed the way for OXO’s innovation: showing the amount-markings at an angle, so users can easily read the amount as they fill the cup.

But here’s the thing about the research: customers never said they wanted an angled measuring cup. In fact, users weren’t even aware that there was a problem to be solved. Consumers didn’t say, “I wish I could read the markings more easily.” They muddled through without complaint. And yet the innovation came directly from observing customers. How?

Simply by observing the customer experience. The job of any product developer, any innovator, is to identify an unmet need – a pain point – a market opportunity – and the best way of doing that is by observing customers. Which means their actual real-world behavior – what they do, not what they say they do. This reveals the genuine customer experience.

Good research like this doesn’t ask customers leading questions, and it doesn’t have to ask customers to design a solution. It simply requires watching and listening. Once you observe that “customers seem to spend a lot of extra energy to read the amount,” the stage is set for the solution.

Here’s Alex Lee, talking about research, product design, and other processes at OXO: Watch video

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