How design thinking can improve the customer experience

How design thinking can improve the customer experience

It’s been credited with turning Airbnb from a failing start-up into a billion-dollar business and fostering a cultural transformation at PepsiCo.

Google leverages it to drive disruption in the technology market and IBM applies its principles daily.

This is the power of design thinking, a customer-centric approach to problem-solving that’s being recognised worldwide as a key factor in successful business innovation.

What exactly is design thinking?

Design thinking originally emerged as a way to teach engineers to approach problems creatively, but is now seen as a solid and structured problem-solving process that can be used by any business with products, services, spaces or experiences to offer.

FINDING SOLUTIONS: The design thinking process can be broken down into 5 distinct phases.

While not a new concept, the demand for design thinking has grown in recent years as marketing strategies to attract and retain business become more customer focused.

The guiding principle is that in order to create an innovative solution, you must first adopt the mindset of a designer and look at the problem from the user’s perspective. To do this, there are five main steps that make up the process:

1. Empathise

Set out the needs and expectations of the end user and paint a clear picture of who they are and the challenges they face.

2. Define

Create a clear problem statement that defines the customer problem you plan to address. This will give you a fixed goal to work towards.

3. Ideate

Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm. This step is all about quantity of ideas over quality and aims to get you thinking out of the box.

4. Prototype

Choosing the best ideas, you’re now ready to create a scaled version of the solution (a rapid version that can demonstrate the concept) that can be tested on real users.

5. Test

This phase might confirm your solution will work or spark another solution altogether. Either way, the learnings you take here will drive an outcome.

BRAINSTORM: It’s all about quantity over quality when it comes to the ideation phase.

Better outcomes for all

According to Idea Science’s Head of Strategy Lisa Mena, the application of this process consistently drives a more effective outcome for the customer and, ultimately, better business performance.

There’s evidence to back it up – a Parsons New School study has shown 71% of organisations that practice design thinking say it improves their working culture. A further 69% say the method makes innovation more efficient.

“By designing a solution around what the customer needs, they are going to be much happier,” Ms Mena says.

“At Idea Science we pride ourselves on creating and finding innovative solutions that fit in with the customer experience, and design thinking really plays into that well. It’s an invaluable tool, and one that we often teach our customers to apply to their own organisations.”