In their article titled “The Interplay between Customer Participation and Difficulty of Design Examples in the Online Designing Process and Its Effect on Customer Satisfaction: Mediational Analyses”, Chang, Chen and Huang (2009) address the effect of involving customers in design process on customer satisfaction.
The authors note that there has been a trend towards customized products. They argue that today customers want to be involved in design of their products so that they can include specific features that they desire. Some key companies such as Dell and Adidas invite customer to participate in design of their product by prescribing specific features that they wish to be included (Chang, Chen and Huang 147).
According to the author, involving customers in design process can not only increase their satisfaction but also motivate them to pay more for a product. In addition to satisfaction, the authors suggest that involving customers in designing a product increases their self-congruity.
Although customer involvement generally increases satisfaction and self-congruity, the effect is subject to perceived complexity of design. Complex design, they note, can discourage customers that lack technical knowledge to understand the designs. In their study, Chang, Chen and Huang (2009) focus on effect of customer involvement when using “online interactive design tools” (Chang, Chen and Huang 147).
In the study, the authors intended to investigate whether customer satisfaction was enhanced by involving customers using online interactive design tools, whether level of complexity had effect on customer satisfaction, effect of customer involvement on their self-congruity and whether self-congruity varied with level of complexity of a design.
To accomplish the objects of their study, Chang, Chen and Huang adopted an experimental design than involved 180 participants. The level of satisfaction of the participants, between 18 and 25 year, was to be assessed. The experimental design took into consideration of participation and level of complexity of design. Two designs (a simple and complex design) of T-shirts were used for the experiment. The participants were divided into experimental and control groups.
The experimental group was asked to participate in design of the two designs of T-shirts while the control group was presented with complete designs. Using ANCOVA test to analyze outcome, the experiment showed that customer participation had significant effect on satisfaction and self congruity (Chang, Chen and Huang 150). In addition, difficulty of a design was also found to have significant effect on customer satisfaction.
Chang, Chen and Huang experiment confirmed the importance of customer involvement on satisfaction. When customers are involved in the process of designing their products, their sense of ownership to a product increases and so is their satisfaction. However, the authors warn against presenting customers with complex designs as this can lower their satisfaction.
Customers without technical capability to understand difficult design may feel frustrated or confused when presented with difficult designs (Chang, Chen and Huang 149). Although the study involved specific product, T-shirts, the outcome is relevant to other products. The outcome of the study strongly supports the idea that involving customers in design can boost their satisfaction.
Ability to achieve customer satisfaction is very important in the current highly competitive business environment. To gain competitive advantage, organizations today do everything possible to ensure that their products or services satisfy their customers. Customer participation is therefore one of the techniques that organization employ to achieve customer satisfaction.
The authors therefore address a very relevant issue in business today. The authors assume that by ensuring high customer satisfaction, an organization can be able to do well in its area of business and gain competitive advantage. Considering the current trend of customized products, giving customers opportunity to be involved in design of their desired products can highly determine their satisfaction.
The internet has evolved to be a major platform to interact with customers. Internet interactive tools therefore provide opportunity to involve customers in design of their products. When involving customer in product design using online interactive tools, it can be difficult to evaluate the effect of such participation because of impersonal nature of online tools. The outcome of the study therefore has great implication to organizations that use the internet to interact with customers.
Reliability of a research study is highly depended on the individuals that carry out the study. Chang, Chen and Huang are scholars in department of management at the National Chiao Tung University. The University is among the top higher learning institutions in Republic of china and world over. In addition, the authors adopt a strong experimental design to address their research objectives. Consequently, the outcome of the study can be relied.
Chang, Chen and Huang conclude in their study that allowing customers to participate in product design using online interactive tools can improve their satisfaction. They argue that allowing customer participation can increase their self-congruency and ownership.
Using online platform, customers can have easy access to many organizations that can provide them with product or services that they desire. An organization that provides better customer experience therefore has competitive advantage. Borrowing from the study, an organization that allows customers to participate in product design is more likely to achieve high customer satisfaction.
Chang, Chia-Chi, Hui-Yun Chen and I-Chiang Huang. The Interplay between Customer Participation and Difficulty of Design Examples in the Online Designing Process and Its Effect on Customer Satisfaction: Mediational Analyses. CyberPsychological & Behavior 12.2 (2009): 147-154