Working on this group project vastly improved my understanding of how to develop personas and tap into a more profound customer pain point. Last semester, I conducted a research project for AT&T where I had to find a new customer segment for their Captel phones (phones for the hard of hearing). We went to several assisted living homes and senior recreation centers to ask a long list of questions about their phone use, but I could feel at the time that we were missing out on richer data and insights. The persona technique provides a structured way to extract insights from a target segment by going through what the person sees, feels, hears, thinks, hopes and fears. I believe this allowed us to tap into deeper pain points that a quantitative survey on Qualtrix would not have allowed us to do. The use of visuals in asking the questions also enabled us to get to richer responses. It had not occurred to me that by solely relying on questions that were delivered orally, we are missing out on more creative responses.
Another skill that I was able to hone during this class was prototyping. Last semester I took New Venture Creation where we had to develop a prototype and pitch a new product or service to a group of VC’s. We spent so much time in the market validation phase that we literally took one night to do prototyping and the VC’s criticized us about this during questioning. Practicing prototyping in our class helped me understand the importance of metaphors in visualizing and shaping a product or service. I also realized that while I am very comfortable expressing ideas in terms of speech and written word, I really need to hone my ability to express my ideas visually. I am considering taking some design and art classes when I’m out of school to further develop this skill.
The part of the project that created a lot of headache was turning the Nordstrom presentation into a video. Though we were fortunate to have a team member who was knowledgeable in video production, it was extremely time consuming, stressful and not very educational since she did all the editing work. I think it also created a defeatist attitude among some of the teams who felt like Nordstrom might not consider their ideas since they couldn’t present it as creatively. Nordstrom, understandably, might not have three days to attend class and watch the presentations. However, in the end I felt a little skeptical about whether they were even going to watch our video that we had slaved over.
This project conjured a broad range of emotions since it was extended over such a long period of time. Overall, it involved a lot less frustration than my typical group projects as there was a lot of structure and my team was consistently engaged. I really enjoyed developing our research techniques and actually getting to execute them in interviews with my friends. I learned a lot about their lives and shopping strategies and have since developed an entirely different shopping routine.
As discussed in the previous paragraph, it was frustrating to produce the video since it was time consuming and difficult. It was also a bit heart-wrenching to watch other groups present the same service as I had a sinking feeling that by the time Nordstrom got to ours they would be totally bored. However, the second day of presentations made me realize that there were subtle but important differences among each of our prototypes. Though they all involved bridging online perusal to in-store shopping, Jenny’s group was solving the problem of filling a specific and urgent gap in your wardrobe while Katie’s group was addressing the difficulty of finding the right clothes for atypical body types. Jessica’s group was tackling the shopper’s need for validation while our group sought to eliminate all of the budgetary and logistical stressors of upscale department store shopping. In the end, I felt like we did a really good job of capturing who Julia really is and addressing a real pain point in her life.
Working with my group definitely enhanced the experience as each of us brought different skills and perspectives to the table. Professor Walls provided us with very helpful feedback in the process of developing and researching our persona. I think the only thing that might have been helpful is having more in-class work days toward the end, which would have also afforded more opportunities for Professor Walls to give feedback on the prototype. I am really proud of our project and felt much better presenting this than either of my AT&T or New Venture projects that I did last semester. The class combined “learning by doing” with a lot of helpful support from readings and in-class discussions. Thanks for a great semester!