The influence of the internet is now so overwhelming that a new product can power its way into the hearts and minds of consumers on the strength of search engine optimisation, Google AdSense and social media alone. However, the fact that ‘everybody’s talking about it’ does not necessarily mean a product is good!
As a vendor of products to improve workplace ergonomics, we have established a procedure to bypass any marketing or publicity bias and ensure our judgements are based on facts. This has been part of our ISO9001 quality system for many years and, although it may appear quite unsophisticated, it has proven itself many times. I have shared our procedure below and welcome comments and observations. At the moment, I believe the process to be unique in the industry but will be flattered (and encouraged!) by any who wish to adopt it.
We call it the ‘WoW Factor’ test. Every new product is reviewed by our WoW Factor committee and it works like this:
Ergonomics and quality are key. The review committee consists of four people from the Customer Service team and four from Sales. As well as different roles, it includes men and women of different statures and different psychometric profiles. This helps us to consider both physical ergonomics and human factors. Typically, the Customer Service personnel look at what sort of follow-up, technical questions, setup issues, etc. they might encounter and the sales team look at how attractive it will be to customers!
Each product is given 2 scores:
- Wow Factor – would I like one, do I “get it”, is it obvious what it’s for or how to use it?
- Usability Score – are the instructions good, is it easy to adjust, does it fulfil our ergonomics expectations, does it “do what it says on the tin”? (We also consider sales price at this stage).
Total scores are not an absolute decider but they focus our attention on the key features and benefits as well as providing a basis for comparison to similar products. They also inform our discussion about whether or not the product is good enough to be part of our portfolio.