Are You a Coconut or a Peach?

Do you have a coconut or peach approach to the services you provide?


  • Hard, defined exterior that intimidates newcomers 
  • Hollow core: once you break through to the center, there isn’t much there 


  • Soft, fuzzy, approachable exterior, low barrier to entry 
  • Contain a tough seed that provides support from the inside out

It’s not about the taste of the fruit – It’s about how it feels to customers and the considerations given to the behind-the-scenes service providers/employees. Don’t be a coconut. Be a peach.

Shown below: Characteristics of a “peach” service-oriented company compiled by course participants.

As a company that values interviews and observations with users, in our research we frequently discover that users are the only ones who see and interact with the entire organization across channels and touchpoints. For example, from a recent movie experience I had with my husband:

  1. We looked up movie times and locations through a mobile app at home. 
  2. Then we were redirected to a website to buy tickets. 
  3. Once at the theater, the ticket agent used our credit card to access our purchase on his desktop system. 
  4. We then turned in part of the paper tickets at the theater doors to get inside.
  5. Once seated, we watched a “Welcome to our theater” animation before previews.

Touchpoints involved: mobile app, mobile web, credit card, desktop system, paper tickets, large screen animation.

People involved: customers, ticket agent, movie theater partners and vendors.

How are these things all connected? Just by us. 

Companies are leaving a lot in the hands of their users. A choose-your-own-adventure approach that can easily lead to chaos and frustration. In my movie theater case, it was easy enough. We might not have even noticed all the touchpoints and people involved if I wasn’t a designer looking for them. But why would you want to leave it up to your customer to pull the experience together?

‘Design’ needs to be reframed; from an activity that focuses on delivery of a thing to a process that enables all aspects of a service to play together in a unified experience.

Service Design: From Insight to Implementation

With this in mind, we’ve been adapting our approach and reframing “design” to our clients. 

We are now teaching what we’ve learned through practice. This is our approach, our take, on a customer experience driven design process that considers the WHOLE experience – across touchpoints and channels.

Shown below: Translating Cooper practices and lessons learned into an engaging curriculum can’t happen without post-its and whiteboards.

Transforming Customer Experience 

Last week, we launched our first Transforming Customer Experience course at Cooper U. It was a 2-day course that walked through our customer experience process with short lectures, lots of hands-on activities, and engaging discussions.

Our approach is Goal-Directed, focused on product and service solutions that help our users achieve their goals. In this course and our practice, we go beyond visualizing the current service experience from the user’s perspective to assessing opportunities and potential solutions with business goals and metrics in mind.

Shown below: Our customer experience process, version 1 March 2015.

What did the students think? 

In short, it was a great launch with a full class, solid curriculum, and thought provoking questions that will drive us all to keep learning.
Students expected our course to cover the basics of the service blueprinting tool, but they were pleasantly surprised when we went far beyond that to include: 

  • A focus on service design tools as a way to evaluate legacy products/services that coexist along with new tech products/services.
  • An emphasis on how to talk about blueprints and your customer experience with diverse stakeholders, as well as how to facilitate workshops to assess, prioritize and strategize together. 
  • An opportunity to practice bodystorming as a way to iterate quickly without debate. 
  • Consideration for brand in idea generation and evaluation. 
  • And more… 

Quotes from participants: 

“It was fantastic!”

“Opened my mind to new perspectives and approaches. Provided useful tools to develop strategic roadmaps.” 

“Great course to channel your UX thinking into CX thinking.” 

“You will leave understanding the value of CX as well as armed with a methodology to do it.” 

“Good introduction to CX with lots of hands on experience. Moves fast, so be prepared.” 

Hope to see you at the next course Thursday and Friday, June 4-5th! Sign up here to reserve your spot.

Nikki Knox

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