Design thinking involves a set of principles that are applied to a problem. In the CX sense, it involves developing empathy with the customer and devising a responsive, and flexible organisational culture.
The key principles of design thinking are:
- Focus on customer experiences, especially their emotional ones: to build empathy, a design centric organisation empowers employees to observe customer behaviour and draw conclusions about what people need and want. These conclusions are difficult to express in quantitative language; but utilise emotional language (such as desires and aspirations) instead to describe brands, products/services and customers. A traditional customer value proposition is a promise of ‘utility’. An emotional value proposition is a promise of ‘feeling’. The aim is to positively impact user experiences. This focus on delivering great customer experiences isn’t limited to marketers and strategists – it permeates every customer facing function within the organisations. In essence, it is the culture of the business.
- Create ‘models’ to examine complex problems: design thinking, first used to develop physical products, is now being applied to complex intangible considerations, such as customer experience. The use of customer journey maps and customer experience mapping are examples of tools and models for building an understanding of the customer experience.
- Use prototyping to explore potential solutions: Whilst tools such as customer experience mapping explore the ‘problem’ space, prototyping explores the ‘solution’ space. In short, prototypes are a way to communicate ideas and potential solutions to customer issues and problems.
- Tolerate and cope with failure: a design culture is ‘nurturing’ and doesn’t encourage failure. But recognises that the iterative nature of the design process is that it is rare to get things right the first time. The culture of a customer centric business acknowledges this process and allows employees to take (calculated) risks in the prototyping process.
- Exhibit thoughtful restraint: many products that are built on an emotional value proposition are simpler than competitive offerings. This restraint is grown out of deliberate decisions about what the product or service should or should not do relative to the target customers. The aim is to offer customers a clear and simple experience.
Finally, adopting this perspective isn’t easy – especially as on a whole of business basis. But doing so helps create a workplace where employees can respond quickly to changing business needs – in particular, addressing the ever changing and evolving customer needs and expectations.
At The Customer Edge we embrace design thinking in our approach to solving problems as we work with many of our clients. Why? Simply because it helps us to achieve better results for our clients.