Learning from the Well Planned EverDock Kickstarter Project

everdock_colorsUsually when I blog about great customer experiences, the company I’m writing about actually has a product on the market. But I’m making an exception today because the guys at FŪZ Designs got it right even before they launched the wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that wraps up in five days.

In getting ready to debut their first product, the universal device docking station called EverDock, David Gengler and Cameron Gibbs have behaved as if they took to heart Card #5 in the Digital Life Group’s Product Success Deck : “The entire customer experience is as important as the product itself.” The same can be said for Card #6: “Great customer experiences don’t just happen. They are carefully designed.”

And these two gentlemen know a thing or two about design. Gengler, former director of product development at ZAGG and inventor of that company’s hit ZAGGmate iPad keyboard, has four CES Design and Engineering Awards to his credit. Gibbs, a product manager with more than 11 years in the consumer electronics industry, has led the development and delivery of numerous award-winning products.

It’s one thing to have all that experience; it’s another thing to leverage it to attract interest in your product. Proudly, the duo told Kickstarter: “Together, Cameron and David bring together design, engineering, and execution talents that make them uniquely qualified to deliver on projects like this.” They made sure there were machine-tooled products in-hand long before they started talking to Kickstarter. They took boatloads of sharp, clear pictures. They made HD videos galore. They wanted potential backers to feel as if they were being asked to fund a real, quality product.

It worked. FŪZ Designs hit their $50,000 goal within days of starting the campaign, which wraps up Oct. 17. They went on to smash through their $300,000 stretch goal, clocking in at over $330,000 with a week left to go.

“We had working samples made from tooling before we even did the video,” Gengler wrote me in an email. “This allowed us to confidently say – this is the product. We know we can make it. We know what it costs. It looks great.”

In order to give consumers a positive pre-purchase experience (that’s Card #7, by the way), they set up a process to answer all questions immediately, whether they’re asked on blogs, at Kickstarter, or in chat forums wherever they may be. They set up and prominently displayed a phone number; few people have called it, Gengler noted, “but the fact that it is there reassures customers that we care and we will be there if they have a problem.”

Online, the company’s response time to questions averages just a few minutes. “It can be hard work, but it pays off,” he said.

A case in point: A post at the MacRumors site praising the EverDock began to veer off track when doubtful comments began to pop up. Gengler weighed in quickly, explaining up front who he was and how FŪZ Designs already was addressing concerns. “By doing this, the tone of the forum immediately turned positive and we received several orders from this post,” he noted.

But they’re not resting on any laurels. They know that unforeseen difficulties arise, causing dreaded delays. (Card #20 – “Delays: Hope for the best; plan for the worst”) They have promised delivery to backers by December, but with tooling for the quality aluminum product already complete (Card #25: Aesthetics matter), they expect to have production units ready to roll as the Kickstarter campaign draws to a close.

That wasn’t easy, Gengler admits. It “required us to pay for tooling before we received the money, but to create a perfect customer experience, this is essential,” he said. “This will allow us to deliver on time. If you can’t deliver on time, you’ve failed the customer.”

After the Kickstarter campaign wraps up, FŪZ will continue to give backers regular updates and, as they begin shipping – on time or possibly even early – the company will use a shipping method that can be actively tracked. Packaging will match the product’s quality, Gengler said, and planning for FŪZ’s next product will ensue quickly.

While I’m looking forward to getting my hands on an EverDock, I’m also eager to see what these guys come up with next.