If your chasing sustainability and growth in this rapidly changing environment, then focusing on the needs of your customers is the most certain way to get there.
Now is the perfect time to think about your customers and refine what and how you are offering your products or services. With people’s routines in upheaval and new needs evolving everyday its more important than ever to find out what your customers are thinking, feeling and doing.
Design thinking is the ultimate framework for designing new solutions in uncertain times. The most innovative companies in the world use Design Thinking to create new products and services and why wouldn’t they. The research from the Design Management Institute states design-driven organisations outperform the market by a whopping 219%. Design Thinking was made famous when Apple adopted it into its processes and now the likes of Uber, AirBnB, IBM, Microsoft, Toyota all join the very long fast-growing list of innovators.
The process helps organisations work through ambiguity and help them move beyond ‘been done before’ solutions.
Design thinking begins with one very important step. Understanding who the customer is and the challenges they face. It is having the ability to empathise with your customers and put yourself in their shoes. It’s about being customer centric.
Imagine what you could do with an additional 60% revenue? Perhaps the future is so uncertain you’re not sure what the rest of the financial year has is store. Research by Deloitte and Touche, states customer centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies without such a focus. Design Thinking enforces customer centricity and a connection to the customer and that is why it is so successful.
Here’s 3 simple steps to creating or redesigning a successful solution for your customers.
Ask some members of your team to talk to customers. You want a cross functional project team to get the best ideas so pick someone from finance, someone from ops, marketing, HR and so on. Diversity is directly linked to innovation so don’t leave it up to the customer service team. This game is for everyone.
Get each person to talk to a customer and complete the persona empathy map. This challenges teams to get into the minds of the customer by trying to uncover what they are thinking, feeling, doing and saying. You then highlight the major pain points for the customer.
Listen out for ‘I wish I could…’ or ‘If I had..’ or ‘You know what I need’. These are all indicators the customer is about to tell you a major pain point for them.
After the conversation immediately reflect on comments that the customer made. Think about their body language or tone of voice. Did it correlate to what they were saying? Was there anything that they may not have wanted to say or moments where you may have needed to read between the lines.
Take note of your thoughts and populate what you think are the key learnings for you and the major pain points for the customer.
Once you have a few members who have spoken to customers, it’s time to collaborate. This can be done in person or given current circumstances you may need to jump online. There are some amazing online collaboration tools such as Stormboard or IdeaFlip. Experiment. Holding fun, visual collaborative sessions while your team are out of the office is easier than you think.
Individually write down (or type) your insights then live share them with the team. You’ll find that themes will start to appear. Group any similar insights together and prioritise their level of importance or impact. This will help you define the problem you are trying to solve.
Now it’s the fun part. Schedule an early morning session when people are at their most creative. Set up a ‘rules of engagement’ discussion to again highlight the purpose of the session and why the solution is so important.
You want to encourage lots of ideas, quantity over quality at this stage, you want to build on each other’s ideas and for the meantime we want to defer judgement. We want some wild crazy ideas.
Now quickly summarise the points from the last session then dive into ideas for possible solutions.
Again, do this individually and put a time frame in place to encourage people to get a lot of ideas out fast. Then go through the ideas as a team and seek out the best ideas. What elements can you take out of each idea to build a new idea.
Now refine the constraints. Creative solutions need constraints, so time, money and resources are good for that. (Don’t we know it!)
Take a look at your list. What idea could you easily get out and test with customers and gain their feedback. Refine the wild crazy ideas to what is doable. What are the elements of the idea that you could deliver in another more achievable way?
You’ll now have a whole list of creative ideas for testing. Run it past a couple of customers for their views then think about some tweaks and iterations.
The key tip is to have fun along the way. Collaboration should excite, engage and inspire action.
You are now well on your way to finding a successful solution. Congratulations!
Design Thinking & Service Design Specialist
Olivia helps organisations to find simple solutions to complex problems using Design Thinking. If you would like to learn more about Olivia and her background please visit this link.