What was the last tech product that excited you to the point of purchasing it? Whether an electric car, smartphone or smart watch, I’m going to guess it was extremely easy to use, perhaps even tailored to your lifestyle. That’s because the most successful innovations are inclusive in design, which means that a wide range of individuals can effectively use them. Unfortunately, many products and services fall short of inclusivity for a simple reason: the design fails to address and engage all relevant customer personas.
Consider a smartphone app that launches with a user interface praised by tech-savvy youths but is difficult for senior citizens to navigate, or a high-speed public transportation vehicle that lacks accommodations for disabled individuals. Such shortcomings can limit entire population segments from using a solution, ultimately preventing mass adoption.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen how incorporating diverse customer personas into the design process can effectively address blind spots and help create inclusive solutions. In fact, diverse voices have been a cornerstone of our success at InComm Payments. Listening to a diverse range of perspectives has enabled us to identify new ways consumers prefer to pay – such as scanning QR codes via smartphone or using digital currency via mobile wallet – then design solutions that let them participate in evolving payment ecosystems. These same perspectives help us look to the future for possible new services, products and companies that are already ahead of the curve when consumer preferences change.
Today, I’m proud to share this diverse expertise with partners and customers through Go Studio, the innovation hub for InComm Payments. Organizations regularly ask us for advice on how to produce more inclusive solutions. Our response? Diversity must be built into the everyday process; it cannot be an afterthought. Design teams must proactively seek diverse insight by engaging a comprehensive range of customer segments in order to maximize a solution’s inclusivity.
Building Diverse Customer Segments
Most teams begin designing a solution with a specific target audience in mind. Tapping into the experiences of your target audience can happen through market research, such as surveys and field testing. These tactics are effective for gaining an inside-out perspective on an issue, but you should also speak with individuals from outside your core demographic.
If you begin with a customer segment focused on women between the ages of 18 and 35 with an average annual income of $80,000 – you should complement it with additional profiles built around other demographics, such as men and older individuals. You can also expand to construct personas for potential users from different cultures, religions, geographic locations, physical abilities, educational and professional backgrounds, and more.
With a diverse range of end users identified, you can conduct focus groups and ask questions such as: how can our solution be refined to deliver an improved experience? How do you see yourself using this product or service? What would a 5-star experience look like tomorrow? How about in 10 years? The answers to these questions, sourced from a wide range of customers, will increase your team’s likelihood of identifying opportunities for new or improved functionalities.
There are many ways to expand your recruitment pool for customer personas. For example, if you seek a diverse range of young adults, consider partnering with universities. Different schools can introduce you to students from urban and rural areas, graduates from liberal arts and technical programs, career groups for students of different races, and much more.
After assembling a diverse group of customer segments, you must ensure each individual within those segments has the freedom to share thoughts, ideas and concerns. In short, they must be able to build on others’ ideas without fear of being shut out of discussions. The benefits of a diverse group will be lost if they don’t feel empowered to make their voices heard. In a focus group setting, session facilitators play a critical role in ensuring everyone’s voice is included in the design process. You must not only hear your team members’ perspectives, but also give the words of customers equal weight and consideration as decisions are made. Taking this extra step will better position you to identify personal biases before they turn into blind spots.
A Complete Toolbox of Expertise Ready to Help
These best practices can be simple to understand but difficult to execute. After all, the very definition of a blind spot means you may not realize it exists in the first place. It takes time to assemble and conduct multiple focus groups with end users from a variety of demographics. Yet this process helps to ensure you limit any preconceived biases. That’s one of the reasons we established Go Studio as a resource to help our partners and customers tap into design expertise, innovation frameworks and emerging technologies. From consultations to workshops and collaborative projects that span ideation to proof of concepts, Go Studio represents the innovative spirit that has driven our parent company InComm Payments since day one.
Whether you are a merchant or brand looking to address a unique problem, we’re here to help you get started. Check out our website at www.gostudio.io to drop us a line.