Customer centricity has never been more critical for success as it is perhaps now, given the VUCA times. Companies who believe in taking the ‘customer first’ approach have the opportunity to integrate this mindset throughout their business processes and decision making. Result being the ability to provide a superior customer experience (CX), which is a great differentiator prompting repeat use or purchase of the product or service in focus.
Design Thinking (DT) as a methodology can be constructive in providing a structured approach to working on key innovation opportunities in a creative and agile way, hence maximizing value creation & capture. Design thinking has three key elements (highlighted below) that need to be facilitated with an organizational culture of innovation while embracing change. Leadership has a critical role in enabling the adoption of this approach in a sustainable way for maximising impact.
Market and competitive landscape analysis typically provide key problem area(s) that need the company’s attention and resources to close the gap(s). The key problem area helps define the stakeholders involved, including the customer, main user, and others in the product or service lifecycle. Understanding the main user persona is very critical to ensuring successful design thinking-based problem solving.
The first element of DT can be summarized as ‘user-centric insighting’, which allows for the company employees to use empathy and observation to map the user journey along with identifying key insights as an opportunity for improving the CX. Needless to say, it needs to be a top priority from main user standpoint.
Once the key innovation opportunity has been prioritized, the next step becomes ‘creativity-based ideation.’ Creativity can be developed through conscious efforts and practice. Creative strategies like ‘pattern-breaking,’ ‘planting limits,’ and others can be used as relevant to create a portfolio of ideas (‘divergent’ phase). Once the ideas are in place, the team needs to zero-in on the most promising idea(s) (‘convergent’ phase) so that it can be taken forward to the next phase that involves iterative prototyping.
‘Iterative Prototyping’ needs to be performed in an agile and frugal way to understand user feedback in terms of ‘concept’ testing (whether we have right solution) and ‘usability’ testing (whether the solution is right). As the prototype evolves and meets desired requirements, it needs to be mainstreamed into the organization’s product or service development process.
Though DT cannot operate in isolation as the panacea for all CX issues, it certainly helps as a critical tool for both B2C and B2B customer segments. But what cannot be emphasized enough as a pre-requisite for its successful deployment is leadership support. Both in terms of setting the ‘right tone from the top’ and providing resources for supporting the deployment of DT methodology, which dovetails into the organizational product and/or service development processes.