Designing Products for Customer Delight

My talk at the 2018 Women In Product Conference which over 1800 women PMs attended.

I had the opportunity to speak at the third annual , and share Intuit’s design thinking practices that heavily emphasizes customer delight with hundreds of women product builders.

Here is a summary of the talk:

What have emotions like delight and love got to do with product development?

Our #1 driver for new customer product purchases at Intuit is word of mouth. People don’t usually recommend products they don’t love. Delight is critical because it is no longer enough to build products that just meet customer expectations. We believe innovation is about exceeding those customer expectations so much so that they feel compelled to share their experiences and recommend our products to others.

We use the following frameworks for innovation at Intuit:

  • Customer driven innovation helps us choose the customer problem to solve
  • Design for Delight (D4D) is how we solve those problems
Intuit Innovation Frameworks

The framework for designing products that delight customers centers on three elements: deep customer empathy, going broad to go narrow, and rapid experimentation with customers. Starting with deep customer empathy allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your customers so you effectively know them better than they know themselves. This perspective helps to identify or define a strong customer problem statement. Once you’ve identified an important, unsolved customer problem, you must then recognize whether or not your company and those you enable have the ability to effectively solve this problem. You can determine this by “going broad to go narrow.” Initially, go for quantity — creating a variety of potential ideas or solutions to the customer problem you’ve identified. Then, become more intentional, refining and narrowing these solutions down to the best few that you want to test. Finally, engage in rapid experimentation with customers to help you make better decisions based on actual user behavior. Following these steps ensures the focus on customer delight, creates a durable competitive advantage and a product that will increase word of mouth praise and net promoter scores.

Deep Customer Empathy

Data usually tells us the “what”, empathy is what tells us the “why”.

There are two parts to deep customer empathy:

  1. Observing the customer to gather findings
  2. Unpacking findings to gather insights.

Both of these help you define a clear customer problem statement. In order to really understand a customers problem we have to holistically understand the customers world — their needs, motivations, desires and so on. One of the techniques we use in observing customers is Follow Me Home.

Follow Me Home is a great way to jumpstart your understanding of the customer and get that deep customer empathy. It helps us bridge the say-do gap.

Follow Me Home

Once you gather findings one of the tools we use to organize the observations is an Empathy Map. It helps us sort what the customer says vs what they do and note down how they think and feel.

Empathy Map

Next, we put together a customer problem statement which enables us to clarify the true customer problem, the root cause and associated emotion.

Intuit Customer Problem Statement

Going Broad to Go Narrow

In order to land on one great idea you must generate a lot of ideas and then intentionally narrow down to the few that you want to test.

7 to 1 — Go Broad technique

Intuit 7 to 1 — Go Broad technique

How to use it:

  • As an individual, quickly come up with your first solution idea for the stated problem
  • Capture your solution idea in the first box on your worksheet by drawing a quick sketch, no matter how rough. Add a few words to describe the idea
  • Then come up with 6 additional ideas which are completely different from the others, capturing each of the different idea one of the squares (target 10 minutes or less)
  • Once you have captured 7 ideas individually, share your ideas with your team taking turns so each person shares all of their ideas. As you listen to the ideas of others, come up with additional ideas that build on, remix, or are inspired by the ideas of others
  • Try to come up with 7 more ideas! (target 15 minutes or less)
  • Tip: Considering diverse perspectives is key to building better products. Bring in people from different disciplines, other teams and even folks who challenge your assumptions to infuse fresh thinking and explore different view points on the same problem

2x2 — Go Narrow technique

2x2 is a great way to weigh your ideas against criteria that you believe will help you narrow down to the few that you want to test. A few examples of criteria include : Impact on the customer vs. Effort required to build a solution OR Problems that we can solve well vs Impact on the customer.

Rapid Experimentation with Customers

Once we have identified a few solutions, we want to put something in front of customers as quickly as possible so that we can watch what they do more than listen to what they say they will do.

Lean Experimentation

The goal of Lean Experimentation is to test as many options with customers to gather data to decide whether to persevere down a path or pivot to another direction. The experiment should give you enough confidence that you have captured the real customer intent. In order to do that, collect something of value from the customer in exchange for your solution. Currency could include money, time commitment, personal data etc.

The improvement in the customer’s life is what matters most to customers when choosing a product. Developing that deep customer empathy to really understand their problems and then coming up with creative ways to test solutions and fine tune them helps us to build and tailor products that truly delight customers.

Additional resources:

  1. Design for Delight
  2. of the talk

I would love to hear your experiences using the techniques discussed here!


About Women in Product

Women in Product® is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in product management. Founded by senior women product leaders in Silicon Valley, Women in Product’s mission is to educate, empower, and create a global community of women product managers to build impactful products at scale.

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Women In Product is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing women with equal access and representation in product management careers at all levels. www.womenpm.org

Nisha Victor

Written by

Product Exec, Co-Founder Women in Product @womenpm, Past lives @shopkick,@yahoo,@ebay,@microsoft,@ni

Women In Product Blogs

Women In Product is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing women with equal access and representation in product management careers at all levels. www.womenpm.org