There is enormous opportunity to stand out from the competition both in store and in the home

Ecovacs

Research and User Experience Strategy

Challenge

As Ecovacs enters the U.S. market as the number one robotic vacuum company in the world, they were looking for opportunities to improve the UX for domestic consumers as well as understand similarities and differences of cleaning habits inside and outside of the country.

Originally, Ecovacs thought the greatest opportunity to improve customer experience was through their mobile app. By experiencing the products from opening the box to fixing a product default I found much greater opportunities.  

While Ecovacs is the number one robotic vacuum company in the world there is a lot of competition. This market is flooded with new competitors are coming onto the market each week.  Originally launched outside of the United States, Ecovacs is breaking into the US market and has seen incredible growth domestically.  

We found while there were a number of usability issues on the mobile app, the biggest opportunities to improve the user experience was on the robot itself.

When you're working with a robotic device, we needed to not only consider the user-to-robot experience but also the experience of having a robot that almost feels "living" inside the home.

The company was seeing a significant number of returns but hadn't pinpointed why.  As I played with the products in my own home I realized there was an issue with charging as the charging pads on the docking station were a small target. If the robot didn't align just right or the device got bumped charging would stop.

 

In addition, there was no status of battery life on the robot itself so charge indicator on the device so you never quite knew how much battery life you had.

 

I recommended they enlarging the charging pads and adding a battery indicator to the device and believe this alone would be huge improvements in usability.  The more I dug into the customer care and survey data my hypothesis was their high return rate was due to this charging issue.

Question

How can humans comfortably coexist with "living" robot in their homes?

While this robot helps keep our floors clean, this is a new concept.  A device in our homes that almost feels alive as it finds it's way back to its dock to charge and starts cleaning without you pressing a button.

Could the robot be part of the family?  How might we evoke empathy from the family toward the robot?  Empathy might create a sense of belonging for the robot and would be key as we looked to eliminate returns and gain a greater tolerance towards the device.

I found that there was enormous opportunity to stand out from the competition both in store and in the home.

  • Sell multiple robots together for multi-level home owners

  • Give the robot a different look - the robot could be a unique piece of art in the home that people don’t want to get rid of 

  • Explore selling with stickers or skins so the family can decorate or purchase different designs

  • Perhaps the robot speaks a few languages to teach the family words from a different language

There was opportunity for the robot to feel like part of the family and/or something special within the home.  Robots are different from other devices in the home.  There’s a real opportunity to make the entire on-boarding process feel like your brining a new family member into the home - perhaps it should.

  • Make naming the robot feel special

  • The robotic mapping process could feel to the customer like you’re introducing your new family member to your home

  • Docking and charging could be and where the robot “lives” could be a special

In my time consulting with Ecovacs I evaluated their suite of products in search of opportunities for improvements, combed through use data and customer surveys to better understand current usability issues and created a presentation which outlined opportunity, priority and strategy for the product team to use to gain alignment. 

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