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Innovation, Exceptional Experience and Sustainable Success Made Easy: The NI© Needs Innovation Model

02. May - 2014

Is it magic or a jack of all trades? The Needs Innovation Model can best be understood as a combination of various established concepts, models and maps, aiming to provide a holistic and reliable way to achieve long-lasting success on the market.
The NI©Modell was created to help practitioners gather and assess a comprehensive set of customer needs, thereby determining the critical areas for improvement. In order to identify customer needs and opportunities for value improvement, NI analyzes the “Main task & the surrounding journey” that customers are trying to get done during a process when they use products, services or interact with a company.

The eight steps of the Needs Innovation Model are defined as follows:

1.) Specify the market and the problem
2.) Elicit all needs along the journey
3.) Quantify needs and ask for satisfaction, importance, KPIs and emotions
4.) Create the „Potential & Feeling Area“ and determine the needs with the highest impact and value
5.) Create, iterate, draft and design solutions
6.) Evaluate your new solutions through the previously defined KPIs
7.) Design experiences building up on the “Emotions/Satisfaction MAP”
8.) Market your products and services and achieve lasting success



We deployed this model to speech processing systems and redesigned the Philips DPM 8000. It is a high-end device for quality voice recording. Since competitors released new products, also Philips had to follow.

NI© „NEEDS INNOVATION MODEL“ used at Philips DPM 8000
1.) Specify the market and the problem

In a first interdisciplinary workshop we defined the market and the user group for the redesigned product. We wanted to
– Optimize the experience for the actual user
– Allow Philips the entry of a new market – analog voice-recording user
– Retrieval at the displacement market
– Create more than 3 innovations


2.) Elicit the needs along the journey
At the beginning we specified an initial user journey to define an unique user group for observation and in-depth interviews. We visited lawyers and doctors around Austria and were able to obtain a comprehensive list of various actual needs associated and clustered to the recorder journey.
With the user input we were thus able to optimize the journey and gained valuable customer insights. Recommended methods for this stage comprise in-depth interviews, observations, or daily diary entries. This step is one of the most crucial ones throughout the presented process.

3.) Quantify needs and ask for satisfaction, importance, user KPIs and emotions
After that we initiated a large-scale interview phase throughout a time span of three weeks. For the interviews we prepared a survey, which collected
– Satisfaction degree
– Importance
– KPIs
– Emotions
for all clustered needs. Each interview conducted in this step will last for about two hours and gathering the information on Satisfaction, Importance and Emotions for all needs is paramount to create the Potential & Feeling Area. The identified Users KPIs are employed to evaluate the optimization of the process at a later stage and are very important for the needs prioritization.
This is a great possibility to quantify and prove Usability & User Experience!

4.) Create the Potential & Feeling Area and determine the needs with the highest potential
The „Potential Feeling Map“ shows all needs with the potential for innovation. Put simply this means that a high importance and lower satisfaction rate indicates a huge potential. At this stage a third layer will be combined, comprising emotions, which will ultimately allow you to determine the innovation potential.
Please note that it may well be possible that some needs have a high satisfaction rare and score low in importance (right graphic area), which enables you to consider a possible reduction in functionality or service quality. In fact, here we are talking about reducing unnecessary innovation to create space and freeing means to create valuable innovations. The third dimension “emotion” will give us an extra key evaluation.


Potential Feeling Map
Thus, this model allows you to concentrate on those needs exhibiting a high acceptance level. In case of Philips DPM, one need for the analog user was „DATA SECURITY“. Users connect a tape with reliability and trust, knowing that their spoken words will be archived and will thence always be available, which is not possible through usage of a digital device. In addition, they know that the recording is happening through looking at the turning tape.
5.) Create, iterate, draft and design solutions for the needs with the highest potential
Now we started our creative process to define and visualize all defined needs. We tried to find new technical and User Interface solutions for these needs.


New features

Need analog user: data security, no changes
– Classic mode for clear and simple operation

Need: Less importance of info
– Simplified data visualization on the screen

Need: High quality recording
– Integrated motion sensor for automatic microphone selection

Need: Speed
– Docking station for quick battery charging and hands-free recording

Need doctors: Speed data security
– Integrated barcode scanner for optimization in the documentation
– And many more…
At the iterative development process we included Mock-UP testing, ergonomic testing and usability optimization testing.

6.) Evaluate your new solutions with the defined user KPIs
At the last Usability Testing we took the defined user KPIs and evaluated them. It was great to see what is possible. For the medical use in hospitals we optimized a process from the duration of two days to a few hours, might was a huge innovation in their working process.

7.) Design experiences building on the emotions/satisfaction map
While you are working at the main product, process or service, you can create much more experiences on the base of the „Potential Feeling Map“. Unspoken Needs or less important needs could be complied with fast and easy and you create additional surprisingly experiences along the whole customer journey. You create them also on a big basis of data. If you cluster and combine different target groups, you will get similar needs and will achieve a huge target group.
– Create an easier first use user manual
– First use wizard
– Optimized service delivery
– …

8.) Be successful
Within the first six months, they won a worldwide market share of more than ten percent.
In 2014 they expect a further increase by up to 20 percent worldwide.


Visualizations at the NI Model

– Target Market map
– Journey Map
– Potential & Feeling Area
– KPIs
– Experience Guide

– Innovation
– User Experience
– Customer Experience
– Usability
– youspi
– NI(c)M – Needs Innovation Modell

World Experience Award @ World Usability Congress

03. Apr - 2014






The World Experience Award PEGASUS appreciates the world´s best projects around user experience
and service design. As part of WUC the PEGASUS is awarded by a vote of the attendees.

For that we are searching for best practice projects. Apply now and get the chance to win the World Experience Award. The process looks as follows:

Usability Mapping – A Workshop at the World Usability Congress

19. Jan - 2014

Safety and documentation cannot be separated.
Never will we know how much harm we prevented.
Always will we know that we minimized the risk.
Safe documentation is our product liability.


What is Usability Mapping? – What does it Cost?
What is Usability Mapping?
Usability Mapping is a technical communication strategy that maps answers to user questions. This approach enables users to navigate to the answers they need instead of searching. Usability Mapping measurably reduces:

  • the risk of misunderstanding a message
  • foreign language interference

Usability Mapping is most effective when applied to procedures, processes, standards, policies and reports. These documents must reliably enable behaviors such as:

  • complying with standards, policies and guidelines
  • performing a procedure
  • deciding on a course of action based on written information

How does Usability Mapping® make documents safer?
Enhanced safety is achieved by measurably reducing the risk of misunderstanding and foreign language interference.
Reading behaviors
Reading patterns of readers differ from those of users. Usability Mapping compensates for these patterns to measurably minimize the risk of misunderstanding and reinforce correct responses.
Human factors
Misunderstanding performance-driving documents (procedures, standards, etc.) is potentially dangerous. Usability Mapping® measurably minimizes this, thus making user documents safer.
Robust protocol
Usability Mapping’s® communication protocol catches misunderstandings through nested feedback loops. This robust protocol is a key safety initiative.
How does Usability Mapping® add value?
Usability Mapping makes documents safer, faster and cheaper.

because measurably minimized risk of misunderstanding and foreign language interference reduces performance risks.
because embedded navigation permits selective reading. Users quickly navigate to the answers they need, instead of searching.
because less reading, less writing, and less maintenance reduces costs.
What is our mission and guarantee?

The 6 Pieces of the Customer Experience Puzzle

By  |  Jan 17, 2014

How do you define customer experience — and, more importantly, how do you create the best customer experience model? I started wondering about both concepts while working on an assignment to increase sales from the digital channel of a hospitality giant.

It seems like everyone is interested in the idea of “great customer experiences.” But both businesses and scholars have struggled to understand what that really means, and have fared even worse at attempts to measure the outcomes of the “Customer Experience.”

My suggestion: Divide the customer experience into six dimensions that can work cohesively to improve the requisite “experience” to customers, provide competitive differentiation and even affect the bottom line.


The diagram above visualizes the six dimensions of customer experiences, a few factors that characterize those dimensions (inner circle) and the enablers for succeeding in those dimensions (outer circle).

Knowing the Customer

Knowing the customer cannot be limited to just collecting personal and demographic data about the customer as it has traditionally been done. Increased varieties of touch points, particularly the digital touch points, help in collecting advanced data such as transaction history and behavior across multiple channels.

This is amplified by advantages of big data analytics in synthesizing the collected data and understanding more about customers, their individual behaviors as well as preferences. Similarly, speech analytics helps in understanding customer behavior and problems in the interactive voice response (IVR). All of these together, using data from all channels, provides a consolidated view of the customer by creating customer profiles.


Imagine calling the IVR of a hotel booking agency and hearing “Hi, I am Martha, can I help you?“ versus “Good Morning Mr. Wong. I am Martha” and offering to book a room based on your previous preferences such as type of room, amenities, etc. A key step in personalization is customer identification. Techniques such as recognizing automatic number identification, cookies, email ID, Facebook handle and more can help in identifying customers. A few touch points by their very nature help in customer identification — for instance mobile apps.

The next step would be to provide a personalized service to the identified customer. Previous point about knowing the customer combined with interaction design methodologies help in ensuring that the customer feels valued. Advanced statistical techniques coupled with big data help in micro segmentation of customer and thus in targeting effectively. Traditional loyalty programs also aid in personalization. Some well known examples of personalization in action are Amazon’s dynamic recommendations and Zite’s story/news selection.


Every customer wants to be treated according to their individual needs and does not like generalized interactions. This necessitates a clear understanding of customer needs and the intent of transactions. Advanced predictive analytical techniques using machine learning algorithms such as regression models or Bayesian Models help in intent prediction and thus in designing customer journey, particularly in digital channels.

For instance, predicting the intents of the callers of a nationwide directory assistance service helped us increase the self-service rate by nearly 5 percent and also reduce the time taken for completing a transaction. Similarly, my colleagues could predict the intents and problems of web visitors using Naïve Bayesian model for a telecom giant and thus designed optimal interventions to increase the sales.

Recent research from Google shows that 90 percent of the customers use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time and 98 percent of them move between devices on the same day. Also, 67 percent of customers start shopping on one device and continue on another. Retaining context across multiple touch points and transactions further facilitates predicting the exact intent of the caller so you can provide seamless service. How nice would it be to start making an airline reservation on the web, pause and continue in the IVR or your mobile app without duplicating any steps!

Ease of Transactions

Imagine you are talking to an airline agent using your smartphone to book a ticket. She offers you 10 different choices, but you’ve forgotten the first choice after she completes the tenth. What if instead you could simultaneously see the flight choices on your smartphone screen while talking to the agent? Research by Google shows that 66 percent of customers use their smartphone and laptop simultaneously and 22 percent use both simultaneously usage for the same transaction. Innovative multichannel solutions greatly simplify and ease transactions.

Other critical factors which contribute to the ease of transactions are: availability of convenient channels, attitude and warmth of staff, information availability, etc. Journey-based analysis and design also contribute to the ease of interaction. Organizations are experimenting with ideas such as gamification to engage customers during transactions, as participation is seen as another factor that contributes towards ease of transaction.

Quality of Product/Service

What if the particular product is not available (Business Class seat from Chicago to Atlanta at 10 AM on Monday)? What if the customer thinks the price is higher than the value? What if the cappuccino you received at Starbucks is cold? While all of the other factors contribute to superior customer experience, they mean almost nothing if the quality of the product/service is not up to the expectations of the customer.

Outcome of Transactions

While the outcome of transactions may appear to be the sum total of all the previous elements; however all of them go together in ensuring a superior customer experience. Typical expected outcomes from our airline booking example above would be booking completion, travel completion, hotel stay, order fulfillment, problem resolution, etc. Effectiveness of outcomes can be measured by metrics such as first contact resolutions, average handling and wait time, customer satisfaction, net promoter score, etc. Organization can improve on these outcome metrics by constantly measuring, benchmarking and optimizing the same.

If you excel in all of the above six dimensions, you will not only provide a superior customer experience but also makes it tougher for your competitors to emulate the customer experience you provide.

Arne van Oosterom am World Usability Congress 2014

13. Jan - 2014





Arne van Oosterom
Arne is internationally recognized as a pioneer and
thought leader in the emerging field of service design
and design thinking. Successfully merging business
thinking and creative thinking.

Arne is Creative Director and Owner of DesignThinkers, an
Agency he co-founded in 2007 in Amsterdam.
DesignThinkers is now one of the leading design driven
innovation agencies helping organizations around the world
making the transition from being strictly product orientated
and sales driven, towards being service orientated and
human centered.
DesignThinkers is a design driven Service Innovation Agency
for a New Era. They believe in the importance of creative
thinking and doing, facilitating ongoing conversations and
learning by doing.
DesignThinkers is not a conventional agency but a
collaborative and has partners and associates in the U.K.,
Germany, U.S.A, Chile, Austria and The Netherlands.

Design thinking certification

13. Dec - 2013

Design Thinking has become a required skill for a working designer however few designers were trained in these skills when they studied design. This course will introduce participants to the emerging field of Design Thinking and tools that can be used to inform design as well as to ideas about how and when to deploy them effectively so you can be a more successful designer. The course will introduce you to terms used in Design Thinking and the value of an evidence-based design approach. These tools can help you to target your design solutions more successfully and discover differentiation to provide greater value to your clients and increase your billable time as an important component of your design process.
Class one and two cover an overview of Design Thinking and the Design Thinking process and methods. The following classes each cover twenty to twenty five methods to apply Design Thinking. The Certificate course covers about 100 essential methods and the Advanced Certificate course covers about 200 methods.The instructor describes how when and why to apply each method.

Our aim is to provide designers with relevant high quality continuing education directed towards the changing needs of working designers in industry in diverse fields of design and architecture taught by some of the most experienced and recognized designers and architects in the world.

How to create a great story

21. Oct - 2013

  • Storytelling
  • Customer Experience Management
  • Stories for companies
  • Hero
  • Telling a story