More Than Just a Maker Select: How a Home 3D Printer Taught Me About Customer Experience

I was gifted a Monoprice Maker Select 3D printer for my birthday this year. It was originally to be used as a fun side project, something to do to entertain myself in the evenings or on the weekends. To justify the purchase, my husband challenged me to find a way to 3d print something useful for around the house. Perhaps something to use in an improvement project for our new home.

Challenge accepted.

Our city ordinance requires a home owner to have a fence around the pool if there are young children in the home. Since it’s just the two of us, we’ve elected to take the fence down. This decision, however, has left us with 15 holes in the deck which collect stagnant water and debris.

The pool deck caps are available on Amazon for a $1 a cap and can be delivered to my front door in just two quick days thanks to Amazon Prime. That's both cheap and fast, however, instead of buying them, could I print them? Each cap would take about 20 minutes to print and cost about eight cents in material (PLA). My overall savings: roughly $13 cheaper and about 40 hours faster. A savings that equates to several coffees at Starbucks – of course I’ll print them!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

The Monoprice Maker Select V2 is user-friendly, however, with a heated build plate and other ‘advanced’ features, it’s not quite plug and play. It took several adjustments to parameters in the software to get an accurate build.

The end result? 15 home printed pool deck caps + one lesson in patience.

I am now officially able to “print-on-demand” many needed household items. I succeeded at the challenge given to me from my husband. But winning this challenge isn’t my greatest Maker Select achievement. Nor is it the (valuable) lesson in patience. It is the added knowledge I’ve gained from hands-on experience that is the unexpected winner.

I've learned that I can apply many of the tricks and tips I've learned from using my Maker Select to my position at Arcam, selling EBM systems. For example:

What types of unknowns or concerns will my customer have when first getting started with AM? I understand now.

Why is it so important to allocate time for pre and post build procedures? What are these procedures? I understand now.

How will my customer feel if their build fails due to a power outage at 75% complete? I understand now.

Owning this personal printer has allowed me the ability to think like an AM user with true circular-vision and in turn given me the ability to better empathize with my customers – with current and future EBM users.

And we know the value of empathy and emotion in understanding the customer experience.

"Empathy is the ultimate form of customer insight" – Don Peppers

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of one another, and can be developed in several ways. The Temkin Group Insight Report suggests businesses use the various methods to help make a workforce more empathetic.

Using more qualitative techniques.

No more spreadsheets and multiple-choice survey results - these do not provide the depth of insights you need. Instead, look to more qualitative research, including focus groups, in-depth interviews, and text-based feedback to help you to understand your customers and their feelings better.

Incorporate qualitative success measures.

Positive sentiment scores, the use of words like “easier” or “better,” the ability for customers to explain your offerings in their own words – these are the kinds of qualitative measurements that reflect an improvement in the customer experience and demonstrate that your customers are responding to the empathy you show them.

And last,

Walk the customer journey.

Interacting with your company from your customer’s perspective can be an eye-opening experience. Find ways to replicate the customer journey using technology or simple role-playing to fully understand your customer’s point of view (, 2017).

We’re all familiar with the old saying, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” This is what I’ve done by bringing the MakerSelect into my home. I’ve allowed myself to see from the customer’s perspective, from their point of view. I’ve now taken a walk in their shoes.

And by doing so, I am more empowered when I interact with new or existing customers because I know that they are real people with human emotions, desires and needs – desires and needs that I can relate to first-hand. This has enabled me to make decisive, impactful business decisions. It has helped me to better guide my customers on their additive journey.

Cheaper home goods and a lesson on how to improve the CX. Who would have thought, all from purchasing a personal 3D printer? Now, what home improvement project can I take on next?



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