Gone are the days when aggressive advertising brought a stream of customers to your door.
Today the Information Age is empowering customers through easy access to information along with the tools to make considerate buying decisions. That being said, it is crucial for companies to offer products & services that truly meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.
This trend will only continue to gain momentum as the information available to customers increases. Hence, adopting a “customer-centric” approach to products and service offerings will be, and already is, a crucial element of a company’s success. (Su, B. 2017)
But taking on a customer-centric approach requires an in depth understanding of customers’ pain points and desires to be able to craft a product or service that is directly tailored to their needs. Here, design thinking can make all the difference.
Design thinking is a human-centric approach to solving problems. Combining extensive collaboration with strategies such as surveying, mapping customer journeys, concept creation and prototyping, design thinking enables the creation of a “viable business strategy that can convert into customer value & market opportunity” (Brown, T. 2008).
The discipline enables “creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained. It is a mindset focused on solutions and not the problem” (Forbes, 2014).
Nowadays customer experiences have a direct influence on customers’ preferences and loyalty towards a brand. (Bal, P. 2018)
Design thinking begins by empathizing with a specific need, desire or pain point, and then delving deeper to understand where a company can strategically cater for unmet user needs.
Although customer experiences can be interpreted differently across industries and brands, the essence of creating a great customer experience through design thinking remains constant. In each case, the user is brought to the forefront.
In the first stage of design thinking, the goal is to gather insights about what users do, say, think and feel in order to be able to empathise with their needs, desires and pain points.
The second stage combines the obtained customer research to pinpoint similarities in users’ current experiences. Here, the common pain points should be brought to light along with an understanding of unmet user needs.
Once these factors have been analysed, opportunities to deliver value to users can be defined.
The ideate stage is where the team comes together in an effort to brainstorm creative ideas and ways to address unmet user needs. The more ideas, the better, as the key in this stage is to explore as many avenues as possible to deliver value to users.
Prototyping involves narrowing down generated ideas to those that may work and those that do not.
Here, the question of impact vs. feasibility of ideas comes into play. At this point, it is best to consult with others, gather feedback, and determine which ideas to filter out.
In the testing phase, critical questions are asked to determine whether the prototype meets set goals. Some of which include:
The last stage, implementation, is perhaps the most important part of design thinking, as it ensures not only that the vision is being executed, but that the solution is implemented in a way that truly touches the lives of end users.
Source: (Gibbons, S. 2016)
The key for companies is to use the design thinking model to explore new ideas & areas to innovate and structurise the development of new concepts that foster the best customer experiences.
At SPX Agency, design thinking is at the core of our methodology to solving problems and finding ways to improve services, processes and experiences – internally and for our clients.
We treat each case as a unique project, gaining a deep understanding of users’ needs, desires, and preferences in order to propose creative solutions that will delight customers, encourage long-lasting brand loyalty and meet our clients’ end goals.