A FRIEND OF MINE swears this is a true story, and I believe him. It happened to him and his wife. After finally getting their van loaded with suitcases, a tent and cooler for the family vacation, they gave a final “round-up” call for their three kids to pile in. The highway was beckoning. The family road trip was about to begin!
Within just a few minutes and after traveling barely a mile down the road – they realized they’d left one of their kids at home. They immediately turned-around to get the stranded boy. He was of course safe and sound watching TV in the room where they’d last seen him, oblivious to missing the departure.
That’s an example of passing the “turn around test.”
I’ve never had to go back and pick up a forgotten child, but at one time or another, I have left behind numerous things that necessitated my turning-around.
The “turn around test” is actually a good qualitative indicator for how much your product is needed and loved by your customers. When they realize it’s been left behind, do they love it enough to do an about-face? Or do they think, “No biggie, I can do without.”
Does your product pass the “turn around test?”
Passing can be accomplished for a couple different reasons. For one, it can pass due to the fact that it’s absolutely necessary. A good example would be your wallet or passport. If you’re traveling internationally, it’s not an option to leave your passport at home.
The other reason for passing the turn around test, and the one relevant for product developers and marketers, is because the product “feels” absolutely necessary to the owner. It provides so much utility, convenience and outright enchantment that it’s worthwhile making a U-turn. You just don’t want to be without it.
Products that pass the turn around test are the ones that have the best chance of wildly succeeding. They’re the products that give more than they get. The ones you tell your friends about.
Everything matters, and that combination of factors includes:
Quality. We know quality when we see it reflected in the craftsmanship, the design and usage. Peter Drucker said it well. “Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. That is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.”
Functionality. Does your product or service let the customer do things they couldn’t do before? Does it provide new capability? Does it give them what seems like superpowers?
Ease of use. Simplicity is necessary for mass adoption. Think “point-and-shoot cameras.” Is your product or service incredibly easy to use? Could an elderly relative use it?
Value. There’s a saying in project management, “You can pretty much do anything, it’s just a question of spending time and money.” To pass the “turn-around test” your product typically has to do the opposite. It has to clearly save time and money.
Utility. The dictionary defines utility as “the state of being useful or beneficial.” It’s a combination of the above, and more. Like a machete in a jungle, or a Wet Ones for cleaning ice cream from a little face, your offering needs to be simply useful.
Beauty. For a product to be loved, it should be aesthetically pleasing. People are drawn to beauty, and there’s not enough of it in the world. Jony Ive, the Chief Designer at Apple said “I think we are surrounded by hundreds and thousands of products that show companies don’t care enough about what they design for consumers.”
If you work ruthlessly to create a product that passes the turn around test, you have at least a chance of making a product that people truly want and happily use – even if they have to go back to get it.