Uber doesn’t own any vehicle and yet it disrupted the transportation landscape; Airbnb disrupted the hospitality sector without owning a single property. Both these companies did this because they were able to gauge the changing expectations and anticipate the latent needs of today’s consumers and provide a solution which can simplify their lives. And they built an intuitive and engaging digital experience around it.
Needless to say, we are seeing business landscape getting disrupted every day. Thanks to digitization and the number of new technologies reshaping the business ecosystem across industries.
But while change is the only constant, there is another thing that has remained constant – consumer’s need for solutions that can ease their lives while a delightful experience. And, in a digital era where there are unending touchpoints consumers seek omnichannel seamless experiences more than ever.
It is critical that businesses whether Business to Business (B2B) to Business to Consumer (B2B) will have to be Human to Human (H2H). And, that is where Design Thinking comes into the picture. Design Thinking adds the human element to every interaction that a consumer has with the business.
Design Thinking is a human-centered, iterative design process consisting of 5 steps—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.
How businesses can craft design-led customer experiences
1. Keep the customer perspective first
More often than not businesses approach innovation from a technology point of view. However, Design Thinking is about keeping the customer perspective first. Which means understanding and resolving for core customer pain points and building experiences around it.
2. Create Personas
To solve for customers pain points and build solutions inline with their expectations, businesses will need to ‘know the customer’ and that will not happen by just gathering data about them but by meaningful insights.
“Know thy customer” is a familiar term to marketing and sales executives. Yet marketers who don’t take the steps necessary to better understand their customers will not be successful. Regardless of how you gather information about customers, it’s imperative that you use the information as a basis for understanding what makes the customer tick.’’
Creating personas will help in better understanding the consumer and finding ways to connect with them. A consumer persona can include an image of the imaginary customer, demographic profile, attributes and motivations, needs, pain points, and actual customer quotes.
3. Empathy mapping
Empathy mapping helps in reaching closer to the consumer’s emotions, belief systems & behaviors, and thus gives insights into the actions consumers might take as a result of these factors. Empathy mapping is a collaborative approach to determine what consumers ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘say’, ‘do’ and thus understanding different aspects of the customer’s experience and preferences.
4. Customer experience journey mapping
In a digital world where there are countless touchpoints online and offline, it is important for businesses to understand the entire journey and lifecycle and craft delightful experiences throughout. This is where customer journey maps help. They help businesses understand consumer needs and pain points across every touchpoint and hence create experiences that are in line with those. In fact, according to a research, customer journey maps improve marketing return on investment by 24 percent and shrink sales cycles by 16 percent.
5. Create product roadmaps and prototypes
In this everchanging business landscape organizations have to innovate often and innovate faster than ever. And, hence adopting an Agile approach is the key. Hence, prudent businesses build product roadmaps and prototypes before launching a product. And, when they do launch they don’t go about launching a full-blown product. They build a Minimum Viable Product and iterate it basis consumer feedback and business dynamics.
Businesses should build processes to manage these prototypes in an Agile way, through sprints and frequent feedback from users, with a focus on developing business value.
6. Product testing with the end user
Testing with the end-user is one of the most critical aspects of creating a design-led, consumer-centric product. The consumer will not experience the product in a controlled and known environment and hence testing the product with end-user in environments where they will most likely experience the product becomes critical. Product Testing with the end consumer is one of the most essential steps of a Design Thinking process.
Most design driven enterprises have their Design labs in an early phase of user research, insights are drawn by observing how people interact with prototypes for different concepts. Simulated environments are created for users are created to experience the products and then the user interactions are measured with various tools like heat maps, touch maps, screen flows, user analytics platforms, etc.
The most innovative companies like Apple, IKEA, Coca Cola are all design-led. According to the DMI index design-led organizations outperform S&P by a whopping 228%. In a digital world where technologies like AI, AR/VR, IoT… so on and so forth, are opening up opportunities to create personalized experiences at every interaction with the consumer. Design Thinking enables businesses to travel the last mile and really engage and connect with them.