A small saliva sample can provide a lot of valuable knowledge in the context of losing weight. This is the fundamental concept behind the company Diet and Genes, which maps DNA profiles and then uses them as the basis for preparing personalised dieting strategies for people looking to lose weight and/or adopt a healthier lifestyle.
However, the concept is complicated to understand for potential customers – who actually make up an extremely broad target group. Sanne Hessel, Managing Director of the company, was therefore thrilled to have the chance to participate in a design consultation. “I was mainly expecting to pick up some input about the more aesthetic aspects, packaging and such. However, talking to the design consultants before the workshop itself made it clear that what we really needed was someone to ask us all kinds of questions to help us ‘fine tune’ our business.
As a result, the consultation turned into a mixture of design, coaching and market survey for us,” she relates. But that’s what I wrote … Before contacting the design team, Diet and Genes had been forced to concede that after two years on the market, the company’s products had fallen far short of the success the founders had anticipated.
Kim Aagaard Holm, Design Consultant, quickly pinpointed a possible explanation. In his view, it became clear early in the process that the problem might be a misalignment between Diet and Genes’ own perception of how it was viewed in the market, and what potential users actually thought about the company and its products. “You can spend as much time as you want sitting around saying ‘we think they need …’ about your users, but if these same users can’t see why they should buy your product, it might be better for you to devote some time to making it more immediately understandable,” he explains. For this reason, it was decided to involve two users in the design consultation – one who had experience with Diet and Genes’ products, and one from the target group for weight loss products in general.
As a part of the process, they were asked to click their way through the website, while Sanne Hessel sat listening passively to what they said. “The website test provided all kinds of amazing insight,” she recalls. “The two users were asked to visit the website and talk out loud while they did so. ‘Just let me click this …’ and so on. From what they said, I came to realise that all kinds of areas were unclear; they asked a variety of questions where I found myself thinking ‘but that’s what I wrote on the page’. You often find that you can’t see the wood for the trees when you’ve looked at something time and time again.
So in this case we were forced to take a keen look at what we think ourselves, as opposed to what other people see. On the basis of what we heard during the exercise, we actually changed the text and redesigned the website after the consultation.” Less talk, more action Another problem was also identified at the design consultation: the issue of customers having difficulty understanding the results they receive once the DNA analysis has been completed. This previously involved Sanne Hessel spending a disproportionately long time on the phone explaining the results to customers who had called back with questions. This is a horribly time-consuming process, especially when you’re working hard to get a business running. During the consultation, the idea arose of backing the test results with a short video introduction, where Sanne Hessel explains precisely how to read and interpret the figures. The idea was quickly taken up, and the video has now been made – to everyone’s satisfaction. “This initiative has generated measurable improvements. It has elevated our success rate because customers consider it excellent service and it has cut the amount of time I have to spend answering phone calls,” relates Sanne Hessel.
Kim Aagaard Holm views this as an excellent example of what a successful design consultation is all about. “It shows how even a small-scale user survey has the capacity to pinpoint problem areas. In this case, it clearly put the company in a position to use the new insight to improve its services – and even develop a new communication concept. Helping companies to help themselves is the ultimate goal of the design consultations,” he adds. And Sanne Hessel is quick to highlight the ‘help to help yourself’ aspect as the most important thing she took away from the event. “It’s hard to measure what we got out of it in purely monetary terms. But I have to say that we gained immense insight into our own product, combined with greater clarity regarding the direction we need to take. In this way, the event has really helped our business because it has made us much better at understanding precisely where we need to apply our focus.”