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Agile product development A data-driven focus on customers

Published on 09.12.2020 by Stefan Hulliger, Digital Integration Manager, Post CH Ltd

Only those who understand what customers want can successfully develop their products. You don’t need huge concepts, but simply the courage to put customers at the heart of your actions. Agile models like the Lean UX model can help you to do this.

Maybe you recognize this situation from product development: stakeholders want a new function or gadget to be implemented for an existing product because they believe there is a trend in this direction or there’s a customer need to be met. In order to be able to answer questions about development costs and the integration of the new function into the product, concepts are then written, revised, adapted, revised again and then perhaps approved at a later date. But there’s a catch: only rarely do we actually know whether customers even need the new function. Perhaps they just have different needs, or problems with the product?

Here in the Digital Commerce Competence Center, we try to shift perspectives. We place the customer at the center of our product development and use the Lean UX model created by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden to help us.

Within the Lean UX model, a hypothesis is defined for an identified problem. In order to validate the hypothesis, an analysis is conducted in the design phase to establish what the customer’s problems are. In the next phase, the findings are developed into a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and the related improvements are tested directly on the market. The evaluation phase involves analysing how well the MVP fixed the problems that had been identified. Improvements that were not implemented optimally then form part of a new hypothesis.

The goal of the overall model is to quickly provide small improvements to customers and learn from the experience. This process can (and should) be repeated as many times as necessary, to ensure products are continually enhanced in an agile and customer-focused way.

The specific form this took during implementation in our team was using data we collected to determine the process step in which customers abandoned our product (online platform). To find out why they left, we observed customer behaviour and performed UX tests. This, together with quantitative and qualitative customer analysis, enabled us to precisely identify the issues faced by customers. The improvements, which were integrated into an MVP, were directly rolled out into the productive system. During subsequent quantitative customer analysis, we measured whether the product modification was worthwhile.

And the result: it certainly was! Through this, we can discover that we don’t need ever longer concepts, but rather the courage to try something new and to be willing to learn from it. This ultimately enables both the project risk and project budget to be kept to a minimum. But the main thing is to keep customers at the center of everything we do, as well as observing and trying to understand them from several points of view. And at the end of the process, the stakeholder is also happy, because a happy customer is a good customer to have.

Stefan Hulliger, Digital Integration Manager, Post CH Ltd

Stefan Hulliger is Digital Integration Manager at the Swiss Post Digital Commerce Competence Center. In this role, he supports teams within Swiss Post to develop or modify their products in a data-driven way.

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