Product Development Must Illumine Customer Delight

Think about it: How many products have we completely forgotten about? Hard to say…because, we’ve forgotten them, right? I’m guessing it is an extraordinarily large number. So many products are lazy knockoffs of other products, and others don’t even merit that description.

Now, what are the most remarkable products? That’s a list we can name with specific goods or services that surge to the front of our experience. They are probably recently used and nearby, truly distinctive, solidly competent, work exceptionally well with flares of insight about what pleases me, and are viscerally rewarding to use. They might be expensive, but are so wonderful they are relatively value-priced.

My list might include the Suunto Core sports watch, Audi automobiles, uni-ball Impact RT Retractable Bold Point Gel Pens, Tumi luggage, Nikon D7000 DSLR camera with Nikon 50mm f1:1.4G lens, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, BlenderBottles, and Pandora.com. Then, again, Apple has its own product lineup on my “best” list: MacBook Air computer and Thunderbolt Display, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and AppleTV (the best value in fun tech/gadget wear for $100!). [No, I was not paid to mention any of these products. I am delighted to do so.

Each of these products was designed specifically for me — or, so it seems! Let me put it this way: None of these products was designed by innovators who passionately believe the stockholder is more important than the customer — I’m sure of that!

A revealing article appeared in the New York Times today, written by Greg Smith, entitled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” Mr. Smith appears to be an example of someone who retained perspective about customers and stockholders, long after the erosion of core values in his midst.

Such is the stuff of greatness when applied to product development and leadership. Powerfully resolving the three key buyer questions and designing absurdly great may look naive to business cynics, but this is the cutlass-in-the-teeth commitment of those who know how to reap robust referrals in the marketplace.

When it comes to product development, the delight, loyalty and robust referrals of customers must be the focus!  Is your product development team sufficiently clear about that?