Creativity in numbers: engaging our community in product development
Hannah, Product Manager at Kokoon
As an athlete and self confessed tech geek, Hannah is obsessed with how technology can be a force for good. When she's not racing her Garmin or blitzing her Nutribullet, she's pouring her energy into crafting award-winning products in the health space, from fitness apps to prescription sunnies. She's found her latest challenge in Kokoon, working closely with our team of sleep scientists to bring to life a sleep aid that our customers simply cannot live without.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.
That’s Henry Ford, one of the most innovative minds of the 20th century, sharing his attitude towards customer research.
He has a point. Creating a user-centred product is more than just asking customers what they want. It’s about understanding real people, and the problems they encounter. This means recognising mental models - our subconscious thinking, the weird stuff we do, or assumptions that we make on autopilot without logic. Rather than communicating with an audience as ‘customers’, there is a far greater understanding to be had between the product’s community and the business by understanding each other on a human level.
We re-evaluated the strategy for Kokoon’s mobile app during the height of global lockdown. We had no research labs, recruitment drives, or fancy prototypes. Instead, we had the opportunity to speak to our customers from their living rooms about what was keeping them up at night during a time of great uncertainty.
From lounges in all corners of the world, we swapped news, shared tips, and opened up about the effect on our personal wellbeing. We joked about dodgy Zoom decor, and attention-seeking house pets. Conversations led to wellness and sleep, and what might we do as a company to help relieve stresses around this. There is a place and need for robust, structured research - but establishing a relationship and understanding between the community and product team first will deliver more formative, ‘human’ insights.
Rather than a transactional exchange of questions and answers, we experienced relaxed, honest and real feedback into how our community thinks, feels and sleeps. As Product Manager of our platform, I’m so excited to share the outcome of these conversations in the new ‘MyKokoon’.
The devil is in the details, the small fixes that can make your sleep just that bit better. You shouldn’t be changing your routine to fit around us, rather, Kokoon is a product that adapts to your lifestyle.
This might mean integrating more fully with the audio content that you love, like playing Spotify, Apple Music, or Audible, all in one place from your Kokoon.
It might mean never losing your place from your podcast or Audibook, with a smart bookmark that marks the spot where you’ve drifted off.
It means logging and learning your sleep schedule, adapting content to your sleep patterns and offering suggestions to find your optimum sleep window.
And it definitely means delivering headphones that are small and light enough to wear all night long, for back, front, falling-man, spoons and side sleepers alike.
Our KPI isn’t our downloads, or the minutes of Kokoon content that’s played; it’s our members average Time To Sleep (TTS) that guides features, content and design decisions that we make. If we aren’t improving our member’s TTS, that’s our sign to change approach, and work closely with our community to find the changes that might help them.
To ensure this success, we have continued the conversation with our community:
Backing a project on Kickstarter is more than just pledging funds to a product, and nothing like purchasing items from a shop. It's pledging your support to an idea that you want to see exist in the world. The Community Board is a space for our members and backers to share ideas with us and each other, give feedback on sounds, designs and concepts, and see what we’re working on next.
Our weekly calls still take place each Thursday, the most interesting part of my week personally, where we can discuss your experiences, and test-run designs and features in more detail. (Spoiler: if you fancy a chat and a cuppa, my figurative Zoom door is open here)
And finally, we will be continuing our monthly ‘Sleep tests’ allowing our members to test drive the headphones + app solution, so that we can do more of what you love and identify weaker spots.
Henry Ford was right - we aren’t asking our customers what they want. We are building a product directly for, and with, our community.