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 staples.com 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'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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