At Ministry of Supply, we pride ourselves on consumer-centric design. Both external and internal feedback is instrumental to our success and has enabled us to get to where we are. How we gather and implement feedback is something we have learned a lot about over the past few years and is something we are constantly evaluating and improving upon.
In traditional fashion design, a designer works on concepts that then hit the runway and stores with little (if any!) customer feedback. We want to change that. In our design and development process, the customer is engaged at two discrete points as we create a new product: at the very beginning of the process and when we have a prototype in place. At the beginning of the process, we sit down with customers and understand the problems they have with their clothing and how they currently “hack” these problems. We then use these insights and get to work. We come back to the customers after the prototype has been created and get additional feedback on the fit, the fabric and the feel of the garments. Keeping in mind that customers know the problems they’re having but may not know the solution, gathering feedback at these two discrete points enables us to implement the creative capital of our company – defining and creating a better solution using customer insights.
Customers know the problems they’re having but may not know the solution… Gathering feedback enables us to create a better solution using customer insights.
Given that feedback is such a large part of our DNA, internal feedback within our team is also extremely important. Constant internal feedback improves how we communicate with each other, prevents issues from building up and creates a culture where we can “let our guard down” and provide both positive feedback and areas of improvement.
Here are two key components of gathering and using customer feedback that we have learned over the years:
With receiving any feedback (internal or external) it’s really important to understand what feedback is an outlier and what feedback forms a strong pattern. If we implemented every piece of feedback we received, we would have no time for anything else, and we would lose our point of view. At Ministry of Supply, our customer experience team categorizes and quantifies every piece of feedback that we receive. This enables us to recognize patterns quickly and understand what is most important.
Crowd sourced inspiration – Not crowd sourced design
We have a definite and strong point of view when it comes to design, which is common in any successful fashion company. However, we still incorporate customer feedback. The reason these two are able to live together is because we get feedback at discrete points – the inspiration phrase and the prototype phase. By incorporating feedback at discrete phrases, we’re able to stay true to our design philosophy while still making sure that we are listening to the customer.
Feedback is a powerful tool, but, like all powerful tools, can turn dangerous if not used correctly. As we’ve learned over the years, having processes to gather and implement feedback can help immensely and ensure that feedback is gathered and used in the most productive way possible.