Now they tell me. Is it too late?

October 5, 2009

by Roger Pynn

Here I am at 60, proud of myself for adapting to much of the digital lifestyle but openly frustrated sometimes by my missteps at the keyboard and occasional (oh, all right, frequent) confusion when it comes to some things techie.

My iPhone is always at my side and I participate aggressively in online conversations via Twitter and Facebook almost anywhere and anytime. I have two monitors on my desk at work and keep up with the social network comments of dozens of folks … both personal friends and luminaries of the digital space I’ve come to respect for their blogs and tweets.

Now my young partner Kim Taylor, unquestionably the firm’s creative and social media conscience, tries to make me feel better about my struggles by sharing this item from lifehacker suggesting multitasking may not be all it has been cracked up to be.

So here I sit, trying to figure out if it is more productive to write this post for our blog or read another post I found on lifehacker, a site that promises to deliver tips and downloads for getting things done.

I think I’ll just go home because I have to install that second monitor on my home PC.

Understanding Your Audience

October 5, 2009

by Dionne Aiken

“… every client, partner, or stranger is someone to learn from. … listen before assuming. … seek to understand the historical, geographical, social, cultural, and economic context and precedent before beginning the design process.”  This quote from industrial designer and writer Emily Pilloton came to mind when I attended an AIGA event last Thursday.

Last Thursday, James Biber an architect with Pentagram, spoke about his work on designing the Harley Davidson Museum.  Before tackling the design, extensive research was done to understand the “cultural anthropology” of Harley.  Beauty, performance, functionality and style:  these words describe the heritage of Harley as well as the resulting museum.

The museum is a beautiful display of history and stories from exhibitions of bikes lined up in a row telling the story of the company’s first 50 years, to the construction and anatomy of the bikes themselves.

There’s even a bike gallery where you can mount a Harley and enjoy a video about the American open road and the camaraderie of riding.

The museum provides visitors an engaging, interactive experience that takes them into the heart and soul of Harley Davidson as a company.  Inside and out, the spirit of Harley Davidson is omnipresent and felt in every aspect of the design.

Another example of industrial design that embodies this phenomenon of cultural anthropology is the new Facebook building designed by Studio O+A.

Prior to their new office building, O+A interviewed Facebook employees (scattered over 10 different locations) to gain an understanding of what makes the company tick.  Facebook wanted its new headquarters to reflect its values:  freedom of expression, individuality and creativity.  The end result was a youthful, dynamic work environment with open spaces for meetings and gatherings balanced by its unique partitions.

The trendy cafe serves meals around the clock.  Their signature “crane table” is a work surface suspended from a hoist to form a table that swings in any direction.

Studio O+A understood who they were designing for.

Understanding your audience is an integral part of successful design … and business, in general.  Just as Starbucks converted an everyday feedback mechanism into an idea generator on their My Starbucks Idea site we should continue to look to our audience for valuable information in finding design and business solutions.

The Customer Survey Becomes a Conversation

October 5, 2009

by Elizabeth Buccianti

How many times do you visit a Web site where a customer survey form pops up? How often does a receipt ask you to call a number and provide feedback? Ever wonder what happens to your thoughts?

Starbucks has answered that question and created the online community, My Starbucks Idea. The forum takes customer service one step further and not only gathers opinions, but allows others to build upon feedback and rank their favorite ideas. But here’s what takes the Web site to the next level – Starbucks has a blog dedicated to customer ideas that are incorporated into day-to-day business.

My Starbucks Idea member “Sarah with an H” wanted to send Starbucks products to military personnel overseas but the current system would not take FPO/APO mailing addresses. The Digital Ventures team read her post and now customers can send Starbucks products to loved ones overseas. Starbucks even followed through on her suggestion to offer a discount and shipping is equivalent to rates for the 48 contiguous states.

Starbucks followed through on its promise to implement customer suggestions, did a good thing for soldiers overseas, and I bet, picked up an untapped market of military customers. It’s a win-win situation and customers are more apt to keep the good ideas rolling if there’s a legitimate chance that idea will become a reality.

The concept has paid off; the My Starbucks Idea site is full of great ideas. From selling reusable rubber coffee cup sleeves to ice cubes made out of coffee, customer’s imaginations run wild on My Starbucks Idea. Hats off for transforming customer service into a truly symbiotic relationship. Customers are thrilled to have their voices heard and Starbuck receives an endless supply of feedback and countless ideas to improve operations.

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