The Design Thinking drum beats constantly around here and the drip, drip, drip effect of repeating the message works. A consumer-centric attitude to product design is the only sustainable way of constructing a business: you have to love your customers and it has to show. So, how much do you love your customers?

We’re starting a programme of Design Thinking articles that will replace room44’s regular Thursday blog posts. We’ll still blog at the start of every week, but to be able to read the useful tips and insights in our Design Thinking content, you’ll need to sign up here. We plan to cover a stage of the process every week and to show examples of consumer-centric Design Thinking to stimulate your own little grey cells.

Examples of obvious consumer centricity can be seen every day. In fact, just this week, the examples below have hit the news for a variety of reasons.

Apple

For so long now Apple has WOWed us with its works of wonder. The ultra-refined presentation, fabulous packaging and intuitive functionality means the brand is still the benchmark for consumer technology.

Questions do arise however. Is Apple still living off Steve Jobs’s brilliance? Is iOS as un-hackable as we think? Is the company so reliant on mobile devices that it will be looking into the void as devices become invisible?

Of course, there’s time for the company to reassure us. It has probably started. The question is, does Apple do its best to make us feel as if it loves us? Do we still love Apple? Yeah, of course we do.

Über

Oops. From verb to bad news in how long?

As soon as analysts saw warning signals, maybe they should have acted like company executives did – by leaving.

A reportedly gung-ho attitude towards pricing, staff conditions, competitor IP, and various other alleged management issues, and we find ourselves looking at a lesson in how not to scale. An ex-employee blogging about the company culture in February led to calls for founder and CEO Travis Kalanick to step down, and the deed was done by June.

Maybe ‘to Über’ will be reinterpreted not to mean calling a car service. Maybe it’ll be shorthand for seeing the pitfalls and managing a scaling business appropriately. Or maybe ‘to Lyft’ will be the new verb for sticking to your guns, keeping just out of the spotlight, being smarter than the market leader and ready to step up when the time is right.

Does Über demonstrate that it thinks about us enough, and do we still love Über? Maybe, just not as much.

Airlines

It’s a mystery how airlines make so many mistakes and, apparently, fly on regardless. But what are the options?

British Airways has been pilloried in social media and the press for a steady decline in service. Staff unrest and strikes plague BA, and stories of peak travel time inefficiency don’t help its reputation. Low-cost carriers see consumer comments of a similar nature, but are unrepentant about charging extra for everything from taking luggage to choosing a seat.

United Airlines went one better when a passenger was dragged bodily off a plane and out of a seat he’d paid for and been allowed to occupy. Company management took an age to make the right noises, but a few weeks later we’ve forgotten about United, and Ryanair has re-established itself as the bad boy of the skies.

Maybe the adage that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ really is true. Who loves airlines these days?

 

So the formula for success isn’t always an easy one to unpick. Necessity, like air travel, can have a lot to do with staying in business. But when it comes down to you or another brand in ever more crowded market spaces, you must make it obvious that you love your customer. It shows.

 

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