For more than 100 years, Lennox has been making home heating and cooling more effective, more energy-efficient and more in-tune with what consumers expect. Tom Brittain, Lennox Product Manager, provides insight into how Lennox products come about.
Q: Where do ideas for new products come from?
New ideas can come from anywhere, but we're proud to say that most of our new product ideas and product features come from the most important people in our organization: Our customers and dealers. We devote a lot of time, money and research into maintaining ongoing relationships with the people closest to our products, those who use them every day.
To put it in other words, the most important part of our product development process is the ability to listen—you can never ignore the voice of the customer. We're proud of the fact that we spend so much time listening to and interpreting what people want from their home comfort system.
We're also proud of the ratings and reviews that we maintain, because they give us a chance to keep a dialogue open. To listen and respond to the things people like, and the things they don't.
Q: Ratings and reviews are important to your process?
Absolutely. Customers give us our most important feedback. They tell us when we're hitting home runs, and where we need to try harder. Real-time feedback helps us create better value for every customer out there. It gives us a sense of how our products are performing in the field, and helps us exceed our customers' expectations. We also have an online portal for our dealers, called DaveNet that lets them stay in constant contact with us. It's honestly like having an ongoing council of dealers telling us what their customers want, and how we can deliver it.
Q: Where does a new Lennox product idea start?
We don't just pull things out of thin air and see if they work. We look for problems, needs, places where we can make people's lives easier and more comfortable. And that's where we focus. Once we see a need, we try and solve it in a way that will give our customers the highest possible quality.
Q: How many people work on a product idea?
Truth be told, we approach everything as a team. Each Lennox product is part of a team, because everything operates as a system. The air conditioner, the indoor evaporator coil, the furnace, the indoor air quality equipment, it all has to work together. We do the same thing.
A Cooling Product Manager may lead the development of a new air conditioner, but the Heating Product Manager and the Controls Manager are going to be heavily invested as well. Because that's how you build a better system
Q: How are new products tested?
This is actually one of my favorite parts of my job. I get to interact with the testing engineers and their extensive laboratory resources. Every product goes through a very thorough and rigid process to make sure it will meet and exceed customer needs. It's a slow process, and we don't like to rush it. At Lennox, we set high standards, and every product must measure up if it's going to move forward.
One of our most important tests is the sound test. We know from our consumer and dealer feedback that lower sound level is one of the first things consumers notice when they have a new Lennox system installed.
When we sound test, we're listening for any sound, no matter how small or isolated, coming from anywhere in the unit. And we're listening for vibrations and frequencies displeasing to the ear. Because we know that quiet heating and cooling equipment creates satisfied customers. We're delivering a better customer experience.
Electrical testing is very important for our thermostats. During the winter, static electricity can build up all around you. If you go walking over to the thermostat in your socks and build up a charge, that thermostat needs to withstand that shock. So we make sure our thermostats and control boards can stand up to a variety of electrical impulses that may happen in the home.
Impact testing makes sure our products are properly protected by their packaging, so that every customer receives the new, perfect unit they've paid for.
To further ensure every product arrives in perfect condition, we also created the truck bed test. It's an 18-wheeler simulator that reproduces the effects of cross-country shipping. We can simulate the travel speed and road conditions of a cross-country trip, for example, from New York to San Fransisco, and examine the packaging and equipment for potential damage.
Then there's the SEET Lab, our environmental testing center, used to test units in the worst conditions possible. If you have a heat pump that's going to operate in the upper Midwest, we've got to make sure it can withstand icy conditions. If you have an air conditioner that has to work in coastal South Texas, it has to withstand extreme heat, humidity and salt air.
The SEET lab reproduces adverse conditions to an extreme measure, including allowing us to see the effects of years of harsh conditions in just a few weeks. And that helps us build better equipment.
To see the full range of smartly developed, thoroughly tested, consumer-inspired Lennox equipment, visit www.lennox.com.