Stay on track with design thinking for customer experience

Advice from CX industry professionals on how to set-up for success with a design thinking methodology

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Adam Jeffs

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a five stage, iterative methodology utilized by organizations to immerse themselves in the customer’s perspective.

One of the most significant benefits of this methodology is that it allows CX practitioners to identify and remove pain points that are holding back the customer experience by eliminating internal assumptions and tailoring experiences to the needs and demands of a customer base.

“Design thinking is at the heart of any customer experience. We live in the 'age of the customer,' and it all comes down to design thinking best-practices,” says Aditi Sharma, VP of digital design at JPMorgan Chase, an American multinational investment bank. “Applying research methodologies and synthesizing this research into archetypes can help bring a common understanding of customer's goals, motivations, and frustrations.”

Here we examine two key focus areas for design thinking: journey mapping and productivity.

Customer journey mapping

The success of a design thinking approach is predicated upon a solid foundation in user insights. By mapping out the customer journey, brands can begin to understand not only who they are designing for, but what is holding back current customer experiences.

Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, encountered some surprising findings and unlocked significant results in this process: “We started with journey mapping to find out where the customer pain points were and discovered there were some issues with the design of the site, as it wasn't providing customers with enough information to take the next step.

Once we began changing these things, we saw an immediate increase in the number of customers who completed the journey, and an uptick in customers who opted in to our mailing list.”

Previous wins or returns will be valuable currency for obtaining buy-in to implement an end-to-end design thinking culture and apply the methodology at scale.

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Productive design thinking

In the search for experience optimizations, organizations must ensure they are targeted and productive with design thinking. JPMorgan Chase’s Sharma offers four tips for staying on track with design thinking approaches:

It is a team effort – “If you are building experiences in silos, without any visibility from your stakeholders, you risk losing the value design thinking may provide” explains Sharma. “Design thinking is all about collaboration, consensus, and thinking out of the box.”

Keep the customer in mind – Sharma believes that it can be useful to work directly with your clients or customers to establish user panels, which can save time on regular customer check-ins during research or concept evaluation.

Keep it iterative – CX specialists should rely on agile marketing to collect data and then assess it using design thinking. There needs to be room in timelines and plans for continuous improvement as organizations consistently learn from users.

Get a paperless whiteboard – The necessity of gathering around a physical whiteboard can be a barrier to collaboration, particularly for larger organizations with offices across the globe. This is particularly true at the moment, with remote working and social distancing mandates. Employing the latest tools to facilitate remote collaboration, such as ‘digital whiteboarding’ tools, can allow brands to collaborate on design thinking strategies safely and securely wherever they are in the world.

Many organizations are beginning to embrace design thinking as a necessity, particularly given the fact that today’s customers are more demanding than ever. Acting on the above tips can help brands stay on track with design thinking strategies and create experiences that truly speak to customers’ needs and demands.