Designers should have contact with users when product is released
For designers it is necessary to know the public reactions to products. Customer response help in assessing the emotional impact of the newly designed product. Newly designed products can elicit public responses which influence their decisions of product purchase and customer satisfaction or delight while usage.
According to Means End Theory(Gutman, 1992) people buy and use products because they believe the products would help them attain specific end goals.
Direct contact of users with the users helps them understand their concerns. Although it is necessary to contact customer after product release to know their reactions its not easy to interpret the user issues. Positive emotions shown by people are mostly due to intangible attributes. It is difficult to verbalize the problem. Besides a communicative description needs a cognitive involvement. In order to interpret user emotions various tools are adopted.
- Emocards- These are cards that represent emotions like calm, annoyed, euphoric etc. People are asked to choose any one emo card that best expresses their reactions for the product. The limitation of emocards is that they indicate only the perceived emotions.
- Product emotion measurement tool- With the help of animated characters subjects express their emotions using a blend of 14 distinct expressions.
- Interactive database model (Desmet and Hekkert, 2000): It is a newly developing model.
Designers need to personally discuss with the users in order to identify their goals and attitudes. This can be done through individual interviews, presentations etc. Individual interviews can be conducted in a place where users can freely express their emotions. Initially the discussion is regarding basic product characteristics, gradually evolving to abstract product experiences.
The structure of the interview is as follows
- What features of the product the customer appreciates the most?
- Why he appreciates these features the most and what are their possible consequences?
- Why those consequences are important to him? It is here that the designer can analyse the details and goals of the targeted customers.
Designers can involve in explaining the technical aspects of products, involving their specifications through questionnaires, structured interviews and usability services. Information about the newly designed product is circulated among the masses through brochures, articles and catalogs. The other ways of communication include advertisements, pamphlets etc.
The ability to process and resolve customer complaints is a prerequisite for offering good service. As designers are well aware of the basics of the products they can help effectively answer customer complaints. For a hotline service designers need to
- Maintain a polite and understanding tone.
- Think quickly in order to trace and sort out the problem
- Be concerned about the company reputation
- Treat customer problem as belonging to his himself.
The strength of business is mandatory to attract new clients and retain the interest of the older clients.
Designers also need to arrange group meeting whereby the features of the products, the scope and customer responses can be discussed. This is also in the form of presentations, seminars where the product by a designer is open for review by all other designers of the company. Inclusive design is a general approach to designing whereby designers ensure that their products and services meet the expectations of majority of people belonging to all ages and groups.
The two main strategies of inclusive design are
- Assessing market benefits related to inclusive design
- Developing framework and growing body of practices providing a platform for the decision makers and design practitioners to respond to the needs of the various users so that in general the consumer interests are fulfilled.
Use the interaction to open opportunities for changes and new markets
The interaction of designers with customers leads to many technological advances as well as innovations. Designers are concerned about different reactions from different groups of people. For eg. A businessman may like a cell phone that is apparently sober, easy to handle and ensures security. On the other hand the youth are most fond of new designs with a hi-tech look. Here businessmen come under security seeking group while the youth are categorized as stylish group. Innovative concepts brought about in product design are different for security seekers and stylish groups (trend followers). The product features undergo through progressive changes due to differing customer interests. In fact technology changes most rapidly in the areas where customers are involved on a larger scale. Mobiles have thus gone fast transitions from bulkier to slimmer models, sophisticated look, best photographic qualities, fast internet access, better data encryption etc. facilitating the diverse interests of users.
Refinements and extensions of established design play key role in advances from a technological point of view. New products and processes develop through sequence of changes built on the pillar of previous experiences. Technical innovations and customer interests influence and interact with each other.
Customer interests and designers’ motivations also lead to change in customer culture. This leads to further launching of new products and setting of new markets. An illustration of changing customer culture is cyber culture. People now stick to internet to gain information about products through related websites, public reviews etc.