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 a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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