What are some of the ways to get to your customers?

We loved this article by Amy Buckner Chowdhry and below is an excerpt.

According to User Experience Matters, you can use three strategies to get to know your customer. Building a great digital product requires getting into your customers’ heads. You have to go beyond asking, “Can they use it?” to get at the heart of the problems your product will solve. Here are three tricks to get help you get started.

Determine whether your product–or the surroundings–are the problem.

A client at my digital consultancy AnswerLab makes software for banks to automate their loan process. The client signed on a major bank around the time it was implementing a new version of its product. Soon customers large and small were complaining. The client needed to understand which issues were environmental–the process they were trying to automate, bandwidth issues, etc.–and which ones stemmed from the new software.
By casually observing how users interacted with the product, researchers uncovered a few external factors driving their experience. Shockingly, we found the loans were being processed three times–first, as a loan officer encountered issues and then gave up; second, as an officer resorted to the pre-software method, paper; and third, as a closer cleaned up the incorrect data. We soon found the culprit: Loan officers had a compensation system that encouraged them to enter as many loans as possible in the system, regardless of accuracy. We realized a product isn’t the only thing that can impact a users’ experience. How–and where–that product is being used impact it as well.

Watch how customers interact with your product.

To help PayPal test ideas for a mobile wallet, we conducted innovation games with consumers, asking them to share the contents of their wallets and describe their ideal shopping assistant. We then transformed a traditional research lab into a mock retail store, where participants completed a series of shopping scenarios and tested the various concepts PayPal had in mind. In each scenario, some rule or element of the game was altered to tweak the overall experience, such as allowing players to pay ahead using their mobile device or search for store coupons and deals on their phone.

For the full text click here: http://www.inc.com/author/amy-buckner-chowdhry and then come back to us to tell us what you think.