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Recently, Amazon has been all over the news for its dramatic purchase of Whole Foods. I like this move for a variety of reasons, but primarily because I’m looking forward to seeing how the company reinvents the grocery shopping experience for its customers. I believe Amazon is the best in the world at identifying and overcoming customer pain points with the knowledge that its focus will bring market share, revenue, profit, etc.

My interest in watching Amazon must border on obsession, as I did something I almost never do—I signed up for yet another credit card. I decided to get the Amazon Prime card because 5% cash back on Amazon purchases seemed to justify going through what I thought would be a fairly odious sign-up process. Instead, the process was quick and painless. It was clear Amazon had done a tremendous amount of work on the back end to make sure I needed to do almost no work to get up and running with its card as quickly as possible (to our mutual benefit).

Let’s dive into the order flow of applying for an Amazon credit card:

  1. Amazon put its credit card pitch directly in my purchase path, with a $70 gift card to incent my movement.
  1. The approval process was almost instantaneous. They asked for only a small amount of information they did not already have about me as a customer (salary range, etc.). The rest of the approval information came from the efficient use of data they already had. So many companies have trouble using customer data from one part of the business to help in another. Amazon was flawless in this regard.
  1. The Amazon card was immediately added to my Amazon.com account as the primary credit card (although that would have been easy to change had I wanted). No waiting for a physical card before shopping on the site (the card did come in the mail a few days later).
  1. The $70 Amazon gift card was automatically added to my order.

What lessons can we take from this? It always comes back to the user. I love the way Amazon was able to focus on both the big picture (how a credit card sign-up process can be improved when it is being run by an eCommerce retailer with lots of credit-worthiness data) and the little details around the user experience, which left me feeling energized about using the credit card moving forward.

Every product or service can benefit from this approach. How to do it? There is no substitute for actually talking to customers and prospects or, better yet, watching them use your products. There are always fascinating insights to be found when you see what users are doing before and after using your products. This can sometimes lead to product expansion or ancillary products and services.

We are big proponents of involving your customers and prospects in every step of the design process, from initial concepts (are you solving customer use cases and pain points?) through early design betas and iterative launch improvements.

Few companies do this better than Amazon. After all, who else could make me—within minutes and without prior desire or consideration—glad to have yet another credit card?

We’ve written frequently about user-centered design in this blog. Here is a collection of the most relevant examples. Send us some of your favorite anecdotes, at info@dprism.com.

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