By Wendy Eichenbaum
Nothing in this world is free. And you are reminded of that fact every time you decide which features you’ll include in your service. Customers want more features at a lower price tag.
However, the more features you add, the more your service gets lost in the vortex of commoditization. This is a no-win game where you try to keep up with your competitors by including every feature they include. In the end, customers cannot differentiate between services that are loaded with the same unnecessary features.
Businesses with an eye to CX study their market to understand which features consumers really want and which are just added expenses, or even worse, a detriment to the service since they clog the experience.
When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, it was a $500 phone with unpredictable call quality. And yet Apple, having studied the market and its competitors for 3 years, understood what consumers wanted – an integrated experience. And the iPhone forever changed the way consumers thought about smartphones.
So how can you determine which features are a must and which ones are unappreciated or even distracting? You don’t have to be Apple to take a crack at the answer. There is a fast and inexpensive way to find out which features, functions, services, and support matter most to your consumers. It’s an exercise called the Cost-Benefit Trade-off. The goal of this exercise is to find out, given a certain bottom line for your budget, how you should allocate your spending on features.
In this exercise, you compile a list of features that you could offer in your service. For each feature provide several versions of the feature, each with a different price tag. You could look at GPS systems, interior materials, fuel economy, or even roadside assistance. Write each version of the features on a separate square of paper. Vary the sizes of the squares so the more expensive features are printed on larger squares. Finally, draw a frame. This is a separate square that is large enough to hold only some of the feature squares.
Now it’s time to bring in consumers from your target audience. Tell the participants that they are designing their ideal car experience. They can select as many squares as desired so long as they don’t go outside the frame or overlap squares within the frame.
It’s easy to see which features or versions they value the most when they can’t select every square. They keep the features they find most compelling.
After the participants complete the exercise, ask them about their decision-making process, especially areas where they took time to make a choice.
You even could ask users to complete the exercise a second time with a smaller frame to hone in on the most important features and services.
You’ll want to perform this exercise on 3-4 people for each of your target groups.
Armed with this information, you’ll have solid insight into hearts and wallets of your customers.
About the Author
Wendy Eichenbaum has been a UX professional since the early-1990’s. She began her career as a technical writer. She then earned a Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Carnegie Mellon University, studying both writing and UI design. Over the years, she has worked across verticals, from start-ups to multi-national firms, in many areas of UX including research & strategy, Information Architecture, usability testing, and focus groups. She started her own UX consulting firm in 2008, Ucentric Design. And she is an adjunct professor at Cal State University, Fullerton. There she teaches a class that she created, User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.