Align business and customer needs for better design outcomes
— Aligning needs
The conflict between customer needs and business needs should be nonexistent. We should focus on fulfilling business needs as a designed consequence of fulfilling customer needs.
This sounds simple, but it is often overlooked, and the results are disastrous. The first disaster: each team looks into different ideas in order to create "great products". These ideas could be helpful, but end up pushing each team into a different direction. Resources are wasted, and the customer's needs end up only half-way fulfilled.
In order to avoid all the crossed signals, we need to look into customer's needs. There are plenty of methodologies out there that helps you to identify and fulfill customer needs.
However, I thought that this often leads to raised eyebrows and a hidden agenda from the part of, typically, the business team. They may secretly be thinking "great, people want affordable good quality coffee, but what about our profitability?".
From hidden agendas to joint ventures
What happens, usually, is that they start to drift away, often quietly, without ruining the party — only to cut the initiative when it's about to start spending the promised budget.
That's a waste of everybody's time.
I saw the urge to create something that tackles the customer's needs, and seizes the momentum of these newly identified needs. While everyone is thinking of the users, this framework invites people to think as well of the business, within the same session, and within the same, joint spirit that is venturing new things.
Focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed, rather than on diagnosing.
Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Needs of companies and needs of people
Let's make a clear distinction between people and companies. Companies need profitability, competitor advantage and market share. If (or when) we achieve this, we are able to pursue a lot of great ideas.
For people, we consider needs, and the positive and negative emotions these needs trigger. For companies, we think of needs, and their differentials and pains (much in line with the classic framework of strengths and weaknesses).
This panoramic view allows us to view the big picture and, by pairing company customer needs, we are able to design features that align both.
Then, comes the magnetic balance of the canvas.
By observing company strengths and weaknesses, we are able to naturally attract and repel certain features.
And by observing the triggered emotions in customers, we are able to charge the features to seize or mitigate their energy.
Features gravitate around positive and negative aspects of business and customer needs
Working the canvas
Always start by what you know. Those with access to customer research, surveys or customer service data, start by mapping out your hypotheses for their needs.
Those closer to business strategy should add insights on what the company is trying to solve at the moment (needs, or jobs to be done). Also, the strengths and weaknesses related to the realm of the service you are designing.
Lastly, together you may list relevant competitors ("Substitutes", with the Pac Man icon). Those may come from market insights, competition analysis and responses from customers.
An experience that aligns business and consumer interests
Once you fill the canvas, you and your team should vote in which features should be further considered. Have a good look at the features that raised interest from the discussion, and look for a common denominator.
How can they be summarized? How can they become concrete? What is the best way to name it, and bind it together around a concept that brings value to customers?
There you have it. A shared value proposition that will tend to company and customer needs, filtered by initial feasibility and strengths, and with a competitive edge in mind.
These are ideas that need further testing, but which are born with great chances to come to life.
Download the Business to Consumer Experience Canvas
Use this canvas for solo work or workshops, whenever you need to create solutions for B2C cases. This canvas will help you to:
Create services people love, by tapping onto their needs and emotions
Create alignment between customer and business needs
Go straight to the creation of concrete outcomes that tackle these needs.
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