Archive for July, 2015

Feature List Exercise: Water Bottles

Thursday, July 30th, 2015


In the YCISL workshops, you worked on a project and made a rollout presentation. Sometimes, I have asked students to focus on just the top three most compelling features of the project and emphasize just those three features in the presentation. We have now designed an exercise just to demonstrate the process of brainstorming and selecting these primary features. We start with a group of water bottles, each with different features. Then teams get to examine each water bottle and create a list of all the features they notice. They then are asked to design their own water bottle. They start by selecting three features from the list they created (or they can choose features that they already know about but are not listed). Next, they have to come up with a special/crazy/extraordinary feature which would potentially differentiate their bottle (remember Competitive Advantage?) After that, they select a sustainability feature. The fun really begins as they create an advertisement on the whiteboard for their water bottle; and only three features can be listed (so two will get tossed in the end) – this requires a few prototyping iterations. An outsider gives feedback and modification can be made to the ad. Finally, everyone votes on the water bottle they would want. This is proving to be a good lesson in focusing on the feature list to promote a compelling creative idea. Try this yourself. You can do it as an exercise for yourself or with others. In the end, think about how your “personal” features stand out when you introduce yourself to others. It’s a very similar process.

[This entry was originally posted on the YCISL LinkedIn Group Discussion board]

Amazon Prime Day: Case Study in Overpromise, Underdeliver

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015


Today, Wednesday July 15, 2015, is Amazon Prime Day. It was supposed to be a “Black Friday”-type special shopping day for those signed up for the Amazon Prime service.

Our household has been an Amazon Prime subscriber for a few years and so far it’s felt all right – mainly for the fast delivery. The excitement over Amazon Unlimited Prime Instant Video has long faded into irrelevance. My spouse and kids nibble on Netflix during the  holidays and I have found all I care to consume at DramaFever. Then again, fast delivery was the Amazon standard before they introduced Amazon Prime, so service took a step back first before taking a step forward – and they basically are coming out $99 richer every year without doing anything extra. Well believe it or not, there are worse deals out there where people have figured out how to get your money by providing you the same or less service than before their fees.

Let me also say though that there are a number of things I do like about Amazon and it is #3 only to my shopping at Costco and factory outlets. I do really like their no-fuss return process as well as the customer reviews service. Pricing is also seriously competitive most of the time (wish it was all of the time).

Anyway, back to Amazon Prime Day. This was a seriously bad day for customer experience. Where the expectation was to find compelling shopping deals (like on Black Friday), there was more disappointment than satisfaction to be had. Up front, let me say that I think deals disappearing quickly is not entirely Amazon’s fault. There has to be some stock limit and it really depends on demand and the quick shall have it. The problem probably was that the quick were people looking to re-sell items later at regular prices and make a quick profit (and hence the positive PR about sales on this day) – it probably wasn’t as much to end users as to prospective profiteers.

I take issue more with the plethora of different third-party Sellers engaged in Amazon Prime Day and the inability to tell if there was any real discount because of Amazon Prime Day. We know from services such as CamelCamelCamel that Amazon prices fluctuate regularly, but we could not really tell how good the sale price was unless we checked something like CamelCamelCamel. This was just a jumbled presentation and the air quickly left the balloon. Our household did not buy anything on Amazon Prime Day.

With this in mind, I judge Amazon Prime Day to have been a case of overpromise and undeliver. A pretty nasty blunder in mismanaging expectations and presentation. They lost our attention within about 2 minutes.

In YCISL, we coach using a grab and monitoring “eye contact” to ensure that attention is not lost., once the premier example of user persuasion, failed badly this day. Let’s move on. Accidents happen.


Related News Stories:

Amazon Prime Day Recap: Sold-Out Kindles, Wait Lists, Facebook ‘Fail’

Amazon Gets Defensive As Customers Criticize Prime Day