Customer-Centricity Lessons From Staples And OXO

Staples recently introduced a new line of office products designed by OXO, a company that’s known for the ergonomic design of its kitchen and household devices. A BusinessWeek article called Staples and OXO: Poor Timing or Strategic Boon? discusses the new product launch. 

My take: There’s a lot to learn from Staples’ customer-centric approach to this new product line. Here are some excerpts from the article that highlight practices worth following:

  • Staples researched brands that had hugely loyal fans — which uncovered OXO as a key partner. 
  • The team gathered comments from reviews on on traditional hole punchers, pens, rulers, and other everyday desk items to see “people’s ‘pain points’ when using office products.
  • They then took apart and reassembled the products and constructed foam prototypes to test improvements.
  • They observed how people use office supplies. For example, people often took a pair of scissors to slit open the tape on packages by opening the shears and using one blade while holding the other, which might cut their hands.
  • Staples set a rigid deadlines for the design team, which included Smart Design, a New York-based shop.

The bottom line: Here’s a success formula: Design products that fulfill customer’s unmet needs through an accelerated process with proven partners.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

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