Face wipes

So maybe I use my wife’s make-up removing face wipes every night.  It is much more convenient than having to wash my face and they work better anyways.  So aside from the fact that I use a feminine product to clean my face, there is an important lesson to be learned here: ethnographic research.

What you say is ethnographic research?  Wikipedia defines ethnography as, “In the biological sciences, this type of study might be called a field study or a case report…”  Basically, it means watching your members, or customers, use your product and making determinations about ways to make it better.  I’ve read reports of a large LCD TV manufacturer follow customers home and watch them try to unpack their unwieldy and awkward widescreen LCD or plasma TV’s.  The result?  Rather than taking a TV out of the box, like you do with nearly every other product, you actually take the box off of the TV.  The TV remains sitting on the bottom part of the box and the end user simply pulls the upper part of the box off.  That proved to be much simpler than trying to lift an 80 pound TV out of a box at waist level.

Back to my face wipes.  They are some variety of alcohol-based wipe so there is a small amount of cleansing fluid in the packaging.  But over the course of time, all of the fluid settles to the bottom of the package and the wipes at the top of the package, the ones you actually use, lose some of their moisture.  The result is a product that doesn’t work as good as it should.  The solution is simple, I turn the package upside-down every few days to let the fluid seep back down and remoisten the wipes at the top.  Simple solution for the end user, but how many people actually do that vs how many switch to another brand?

What kind of gyrations do your members go through to get an envelope out of an ATM that only somebody sitting in a lawn chair can reach?  Have you ever watched any of your members try to log in with your MFA product or fill out a deposit slip?  And I don’t mean casually observe.  I mean time them.  Watch how long it takes someone to find that check box that I want to “deposit” funds or how long it takes them to read the statement, “I’m sorry, you are attempting to access your account from an un-authorized computer…”  Sometimes the best thing you can do for your brand and your members’ experience is to simply sit back and watch.  You might be amazed at what you’ll find out.

5 thoughts on “Face wipes”

  1. Great post Robbie! This really resonates with me. I would love to have more time in my schedule to have a lot more personal interaction with our members and really find-out what really irks them about our full-range of services. I just know there are members out there saying things like, “That’s stupid. You mean that system doesn’t talk to that other system?”

    By the way…I just unboxed a 52″ LCD earlier in the week and couldn’t help but think how cool it was the way the box slid right off the top of the bottom box that held the TV. Hmmmm…are you stalking me outside my house?

  2. Focus groups, too, can often uncover little things that a CU does (or has stopped doing) that members really care about. Sometimes small changes can have a large positive impact. But everything I’ve heard about ethnographic research is excellent, and I’d love to learn more about it.

  3. I came across your blog and was really intrigued by this. I can completely understand what you are talking about. It seems that whenever something doesn’t work as well, we tend to try and find a solution around it. Hence the turning the face wipes upside down. In my credit union, we really struggle with finding a way for marketing and our MSR’s to communicate better with one another. The MSRs do not seem to be motivated, and are always wanting more incentives- but isn’t that what they get paid to do?

    Maybe if management will sit at the teller stand, and make transactions, for a few hours a week, management will provide an example for their staff. We also have a hard time getting our staff to hand out a receipt flier when they do a transaction.

    Instead of butting heads with management and tellers, maybe we should flip the situation upside down, and put ourselves in their shoes. Or, provide an ’employee of the month’ program where they push each other to provide better service. Having someone rely on you is more promising than having management tell you what to do.

  4. @Morriss – Personally, I think focus groups are overrated and useless. Just because a member tells you what they want doesn’t really mean that’s what they need. They may think they need something, but they could be way off. The only way to figure it out is to actually watch them use the product.

    @Rebecca – That’s always a tough situation to be in. If you have any ability, hands down the best way to accomplish this kind of thing is to make your executives be a teller a day a month, 4 hours a week, or something. It shows the tellers/MSR’s that they really care about the branches and what’s going on with the members, and it really gets the executives in touch with what’s going on in a way that no member survey or suggestion box ever would. Amazon and Zappos are two tremendous examples were the CEO regularly spends more time on the “front line” then in his office.

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