Build A Worse Product: Ignore Customer Feedback, Change Your Focus, And Be More Useful

Building a Worse Product to Improve Sales

As any growing business,  we at Signority are constantly looking for ways to become a more efficient business. In a recent chat with our friend, Pascal Laliberté, a Jobs-to-be-Done consultant, we explored ways for businesses to improve sales through understanding the job their clients need. He was gracious enough to write a post for us to help you understand the traps of a good UX, the importance of understanding your users’ needs, and how to build a worse product to improve sales.

— Slick product you got there.

— Thanks bud! We’ve worked hard on it. We owe it to the UX designer and the development team. They gave it all they had.
— Very cool. Are you getting a lot of traction? People using it?
— Not enough, actually. We’re trying to get more sales.
— Don’t we all!
— It’s confusing, though. We’ve got a great product, the people that sign up have good things to say, we listen to their feedback. But it’s just not selling enough. We’re trying different marketing approaches, growth hacking, stuff like that.
— Good call. Hope it works out.


You’ve heard that situation before: good product, great UX (User Experience), good feedback from your users, good story. But it’s not selling. You’ve tried lowering the price, being competitive, matching your competitor’s features.
Drop in the bucket.
With all your efforts, you’ve fallen into…

THE TRAP OF THE GOOD UX

It’s a trap that goes like this: you find a good market opportunity and you have a go at it. You build a good UX (User Experience) in the hopes of attracting people, removing usability barriers in the sign-up process and in key areas of your product. Despite all that, no sales! How come?


In her book Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra teaches us something about what makes a person want to tell the world about the product they just used. You have to make her feel awesome. Not that she used an awesome product. That she feels like she is awesome. She learned something, she feels at the top of her game for using it, she found something amazing about herself while using the product. She wants to tell the world about it. She feels totally Badass and she can tell others how they too can become Badass by using the product.


In the history of electronics, the vacuum tube had a good run. This technology powered floor-standing TV sets, tabletop radios, and industrial-grade electronics sold to big corporations. The manufacturing process and distribution chains were well established. Good business.
When the transistor came out of AT&T’s Bell Laboratories in 1947, it wasn’t a threat to the vacuum tube business just yet. Transistors couldn’t handle the power needs of the devices which used vacuum tubes, and the race was on to find a way to get transistors to handle those power demands. Companies like RCA poured hundreds of millions of dollars into R&D to solve that tricky technical problem.
When Sony came out with the portable radio, people thought it was going to be a dud. Compared to the tabletop radios, the sound and the reception were awful. It was a worse product. However, Sony could manufacture it cheaply and sell a ton of them. Teenagers loved them. For a few bucks, they could listen to the music they liked, on the go. Done deal.
Sony used the low-powered — but rugged — transistor to build those radios. They became good at manufacturing these transistors, used the money from the sale of the portable radios to fund the development of the next transistors, and the rest is history.


Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen was the guy from whom I heard the portable radio story. He’s been interested in understanding how big innovative companies fall, and how small companies can eat into the big company’s markets.
A theory emerged from his research. He called it the Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory, and it serves to shed light on the causal factors for a person to go out and buy a product. Causality in Marketing? Tall order!
In short, it says that people don’t buy products, they hire a product for a job. The distinction is subtle, but it’s key to understanding the situation that caused the person to seek a solution. A job is a precise and detailed piece of a puzzle.
For example, Frank didn’t buy a business book, he hired a business book to help him advance in his career. Kelly hired a night out at the restaurant so she can connect with her husband. John hired the project communication software so he could change the work culture away from meetings and interruptions and towards tackling deep meaningful hard problems without interruptions.
You see how the job is the core of the reason why people make a switch toward your product?
So understand the job well, and you’ll be able to sell your product in a predictable way (and for a good price too, because you’ll know what problem it’s solving).
Understand the job really well, and you’ll be able to make your buyers feel awesome (like in the Badass book.)
However, if your product addresses the job of the buyer in a lukewarm or diluted way — diluted, say, by many extra features the user doesn’t need — you’ll create anxiety in the buyer’s mind.
“I don’t need these features.” “I don’t think I’m smart enough to use all these extra things.” “All I want is to do this one thing.”

Your UX might be great, but if you don’t address the job of the buyer, you won’t have a sale. You need to create a worse product.

So consider these two options:
Option 1: Create a beautiful product that answers what your buyers tell you they want.
Option 2: Create a product that addresses the job of your buyer perfectly, but it’s a “worse product”.
Which one of these two options will help you sell more, do you think? Which option will give you a product that is more deeply useful, and which will make the user feel Badass? Option 2.
That’s why I propose you build a worse product, ignore customer feedback and change your focus to address the precise job of your buyer. You’ll then have a good bet at building a more useful product that’ll sell more.
To find the job for which some of your customers have bought your product, consider this course on how to conduct Jobs-To-Be-Done Interviews, offered by the Re-Wired Group. Interview 10 people and you’ll have a good sense of the job.
And to learn more about Jobs-To-Be-Done, I recommend the book Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen. The audiobook version from Audible is very good. Hope this helps.


About the Author

Pascal Laliberté is a Jobs-To-Be-Done Consultant, Interaction Designer and Web Developer in Ottawa, Ontario. You can also read his other articles on Medium.com.

HR Best Practices: How to Optimize HR Onboarding Capabilities

HR Onboarding Capabilities Reassessment

Your HR department manages your company’s most valuable asset, its employees. Not knowing how to optimize HR onboarding process impacts every aspect of the organization, and directly hinders organizational success.
If you think deprioritizing HR is saving your company unneeded expenses, think again.
By not fully optimizing your HR’s capabilities, your company is actually losing money. HR facilitates strategic and organizational goals and is critical to employee retention and employee productivity. The average senior manager wastes a surprising amount of time managing underperforming employees— seven weeks a year, or over an hour each day, to be exact.
Don’t make the same mistake by reassessing, and improving your current HR onboarding capabilities.  
So, how do you improve your HR capabilities so that it remains an influential, high-value function within the company?  

1. Recruitment & Selection

Recruitment and selection are one of the most important functions of your HR department. Your company can only go as far as your employees can carry it— unsuccessful employees, unsuccessful business. Unfortunately, almost half of hiring managers admit to underestimating the hiring processes difficulty— even worse, over 80% of managers say their company has made hiring mistakes.
With that in mind, hiring the wrong person is super expensive. The unfit employee decreases overall company reputation and employee productivity and moral— which negatively impacts the work culture. In fact, over 53% of business owners agreed a bad hire increased stress levels amongst the rest of the team. Moreover, bad hiring decisions comprise 80% of employee turnover, and can cost upwards of 50% of their yearly salary!
Before you can hire promising individuals, you must first attract a large pool of qualified applicants. To do so, focus on improving your corporate image and use relevant channels. You should conduct an internal audit of the company’s current knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes (KSAO’s). Through this, you can see what characteristics are needed for job success and if there are any gaps in your current labour pool. According to a recent study, the top reasons for poor hiring decisions were poor skills match and unclear performance objectives. As such, your job descriptions should be specific and in-depth, with direct reference to employee expectations and the needed KSAO’s. During the screening process, you should conduct relevant skill tests and may want to undergo realistic job previews. Make a personal connection, and pay attention to their personality and values— even the most qualified applicant on paper may not mesh well with other employees or the workplace culture.

2. HR Onboarding

A good HR onboarding strategy is extremely important. It’s your company’s first impression to your new hire. Their onboarding experience sets the tone and influences the way they perceive the company. In fact, a recent study found that new hires decide whether to stay with the company long-term within their first 6 months of being hired. Positive onboarding directly affects your ability to retain talent, and your turnover rate — this can increase employee performance by over 10%!
The first step in successful onboarding? Begin even before their first day. In fact, over 80% of leading organizations follow this rule. Even more, 50% have senior leaders take an active role in the process. These organizations are also twice as likely to use metrics, with the most valuable being: employee engagement, retention and productivity. Moreover, when your onboarding practices are structured, employees are 66% more likely to stick around. You should also explicitly state your expectations of their employment, and socialize the new hires as much as you can. According to another study, something as simple as throwing them a welcome lunch can motivate new hires to work harder, since they feel supported by their team and leaders and hold more positive views of the organization. To increase engagement and employee interest, you can make the onboarding process more interactive. Lastly, you should simplify the process as best you can. This will not only help the new hire, but it will also help you immensely. New employee onboarding comes with lots of paperwork and can be extremely tedious and overwhelming for both parties. By automating what you can, you can simplify the entire process, and alleviate some of the stress from both you and your new hire. Automating will also ensure the process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible, creating a long lasting positive impression.

3. Training & Development

Employees are one of your main assets, why not invest in them? Offering your employees training and development opportunities decreases turnover and human error, while increasing employee motivation, productivity and efficiency. Your employees will also better adapt to changes and have increased satisfaction. The benefits will come full circle!
Employees want the chance to learn and grow. You should ask them first what areas they want/need to develop their skills in, and what their long-term goals are. They have the first-hand experience on what skills are important, and which ones are currently lacking. Align the training with organizational goals, and with their unique learning styles (after all, the whole point is for them to learn!). Streamline the training across departments and be sure to measure the results and outcomes so you know what to improve in the future.

4. Employee Relations

HR onboarding plays a key role in bringing employees together. Good internal employee relations decreases absenteeism and conflicts while increasing employee loyalty, morale and motivation. To strengthen your organization’s employee relations, first, focus on direct communication. Encourage employee engagement and take on a leadership role. Lead by example and bring everyone to an organizational consensus. Direct communication allows for everyone to be on the same page, and reduces the probability of harmful rumours. Keep employees well informed and up to date on important issues, such as policy changes. Create a positive and supportive culture by treating all employees equally and promoting employee participating in extracurricular activities (like team building exercises!).

5. Performance Appraisals

Performance appraisals are extremely important, even more so with today’s new age workforce. Appraisal help to align employees goals with the organizations, provide insight into the effectiveness of recruiting practices, help assess training and development needs, and improve employee productivity. This feedback should be given frequently, possibly even every day. Through this, managers will become more comfortable giving feedback, employees will feel more appreciated and supported, and problems can be stopped before they escalate. You should strive to create a positive and rewarding experience, by having a two-way conversation (not a lecture)— your employees want to feel heard and involved in the process! Once again, a performance review is a perfect opportunity for you to further explain your expectations on their performance and set clear goals.
There is no substitute for HR. Start improving your HR onboarding capabilities today and avoid many negative long-term effects.

Digital Strategy: Key Questions Insurance Industry Should Consider Before Going Digital (Part 3)

Digital strategy for going digital

If you’ve been following the series you should have some solid background information on why you should go digital, but how do you leverage this to make a successful digital strategy?
Currently, almost half of insurers have no single cohesive digital strategy— today we’re going to try and change this. But, we’re going to do much more than talk. We’re going to put your knowledge to the test, and help guide you on how to make your own successful digital strategy.
In this third instalment, we’ll gauge your overall digital readiness and answer some key questions that should be considered before you implement your strategy.

Digital Strategy Maturity Model

Before making your digital strategy, you should have a clear understanding of your current position. This will help you make better more informed decisions, and give you a strong grasp on your digital readiness— so you can develop a successful strategy long-term.
EY, a global leader in consulting and advisory services, distinguished 4 key elements you should assess:

  1. Corporate strategy
  2. Customer strategy
  3. Enabling capabilities
  4. Digital roadmap

To grow from a digitally stunted strategy to digitally mature, these four parts need to be aligned, and optimized. Currently, American insurers have a high degree of variance with their overall digital maturity, and with their digital strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, in our recent post I explained each segment in detail and discussed why they’re crucial for your strategy’s success.
Want to know how digitally mature your company is? Well, we brought this model to life and created an interactive digital readiness scorecard! Check it out and see where you line up. Added bonus: we’ll also throw in some tips and tricks to help push you further along in your digital maturity!

Before Going Digital: What’s Your Plan?

EY also recently asked insurance firms some thought provoking questions:  

  1. Ambition: Where do you want to be on the Digital Maturity Model? Do you have a clear view of what “digital” aims to achieve?
  2. Priorities: Do you know which customers, products, channels and customer trigger points require digital attention- and which do not? What are your competitors doing in this space?

Know Your Digital Strategy Plan

A full digital transformation requires full dedication and determination. Everyone must be onboard and ready to give their all. But before you can get everyone on the same page, you need to outline your long-term objectives and goals.
You should have a clear vision of where on the digital maturity model you want to be long-term. There is a wide range of possibilities, as you can focus on the model as a whole or on individual segments separately. Whatever end goal you choose, it should be closely tied with all your other strategies and support overall business aspirations.
Understanding where you lie on the digital readiness scorecard is crucial. You should not only have a general knowledge of how digitally ready your business is, but you should also be keenly aware of how you perform in each individual element. By knowing where you are and where you want to be, you can better understand what digital aims to achieve in order to reach your end goal.
You should focus your initial attention towards the fundamentals of your business. Look at your current brand equity, competitive position and brand performance. It may also be a good idea to conduct an internal SWOT analysis of your company. Through this, you can better see where you need to improve and set concrete objectives. After this, you can set a definitive digital vision. Outline your strategies to achieve your defined objectives and any dependencies, obstacles or risks that may occur. Additionally, you should create a firm and detailed budget. In doing so, you can divide up all the responsibilities to the needed people, increasing individual accountability. You should communicate your strategy and ambition to your staff, partners and customers to manage expectations and improve employee cohesiveness.

Know Your Priorities

During the transition, things may become pretty hectic. Before this happens, it’s important that you know exactly what objectives to tackle first. The success of your digital transformation almost entirely hinges on your ability to set objectives and follow through. Some objectives to consider include:

  1. Customer

According to EY, the biggest drivers of digital strategies are improving customer experience, building long-term customer relationships and regaining more control over these relationships. In order to do so, you need to have a deep understanding of your customer base. You should clearly outline your intended target audience and understand their needs, behaviours, values and expectations.
You should also have a firm grasp on your customers’ trigger points, as they can show opportunities in your customer’s buying process. You can start by identifying a buyer persona, and deeply know their buying habits and their decision process. Through this, you can understand what motivates them to purchase and create targeted messages and content for that trigger. Even better, you can work to create the trigger yourself. Moreover, these triggers should be ingrained into your overall marketing strategy. The right message should be delivered to the right person, at the right time. This can help insurers accurately predict their sales forecasts, and better help them in attracting new customers.

  1. Product & Service

You can use the power of digital to test the efficiency of any and all of your products and services. Through this, you can better see what’s doing well, and what needs some improvement. This insight will also help you in creating any new products and services, as you know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Channel

First, you should outline the breadth and depth of your envisioned channels and know how much resources will be needed to keep them updated and maintained. It’s extremely crucial to not over-estimate your resources at this stage, as you do not want to be in a situation where certain channels are neglected, or your overall communication effectiveness is hindered. The specific channels you choose depends on the content you want to share. Each channel has a different atmosphere, purpose and set of social norms. In essence, users connect with every channel differently. For example, LinkedIn may be a more suitable channel to target B2B customers than Facebook. You should evaluate all of your channel options, and select the one most appropriate and fitting towards your intended target audience and overall objectives. In the beginning, you may need to experiment with a couple of different channels until you find the one that works the best for you. Moreover, all of your channels should be integrated with each other. Customers expect to have the same experience with your brand regardless of the channel, so consistency is key.
Along the same lines, you should probably prioritize a mobile strategy. A whopping 65% of purchase journeys start on a smartphone, and by 2020 four out of five people will own a mobile phone. Currently, less than one-third of insurers have a distinct mobile strategy— meaning there is a huge opportunity waiting for you!

Know Your Competition

You should be aware of what your competitors are doing with their digital strategy, and how well it’s being executed. This can work as a baseline for you to gauge industry activity and may uncover some initiatives you should be participating in. Moreover, this can determine areas of opportunity, and points of potential differentiation.

A good digital strategy is one that can adapt to industry changes, and that is aligned with your overall business objectives.
The first step: calculate your digital readiness. Last step? Sit back and watch your business skyrocket.
Miss Part 2? Learn more about why analytics are fundamental to your strategy, and how to optimize their use from our previous post in the series!  
Looking to go digital? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.