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Customer Centricity and Experience Design

Understanding your customer and actioning insights to create value

Organisations should have the ability to communicate, understand and empathize with customers, turning customer insights into action and putting the customer at the centre of the design of new products, services and experiences.

Highly valued organisations such as Amazon are increasingly recognising the value of putting internal and external customers at the centre of what they do. Accordingly, many have introduced tools such as NPS to measure and track customer sentiment. However, a key pitfall of many organisations is that whilst they may be more conscious of customer needs, they are not effective in actioning the feedback they receive. Thus, there is a need to build in processes and tools within the organisation that allow them to draw customer insights and effectively action them to create value for their customers and be future ready.

More and more companies are recognizing they can gain a competitive advantage by delivering exceptional customer experiences,” -- Steve Walker, chairman and chief executive officer of Walker Information

Experience design is one practice used for drawing out and actioning these insights.

Consumers are becoming more demanding. They no longer just want a great product, but they also want a great experience during all stages of their customer journey – searching, purchasing, using, and post-interaction.Organisations have used a range of different methodologies to achieve this including design thinking, human centered design, user experience design and customer experience design. Whilst each of these experience design methodologies uses a different process, each of them focusses on immersion in the customer experience, and allowing you to understand the people you are designing for (ideo).

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a benchmark used to evaluate and improve customer loyalty. Customers are asked how likely they are to recommend you to a friend, NPS is then calculated using the results and subtracting the percentage of ‘detractors’ from the percentage of ‘promoters’.

More importantly than the tools they use however, is that future ready companies put the customer at the center of everything that they do. There are 5 key steps companies can take to build a customer-centric culture across the entire company:

  • Embed customer satisfaction in the organisation’s philosophy by making it a core value
  • Create awareness through internal marketing channels
  • Ensure employees have access to any customer feedback collected
  • Put customer satisfaction (such as NPS rating) as a key priority in organisation KPIs
  • Make customer centricity a priority for everyone and reward employees for maintaining high customer satisfaction

Human Centred Design

The core idea of human centred design is to create products and innovations from your customer's perspective that they will love and embrace.

There are six phases of human-centred design outlined by ideo; observation, ideation, rapid prototyping, user feedback, iteration, implementation. These phases are designed to ensure that the creation of a new product or innovation is focussed on the end user, and their perspective.

This is just one of the many tools which are out there and organisations should consider what works for them, sometimes that is one particular tool/methodology, or a combination of many. Whichever methodology you use however, should centre around the core idea of integrating the needs of your customer with what is possible and what is necessary for sustained business success.

The 6 stages of human-centred design; observation, ideation, rapid prototyping, user feedback, iteration, implementation

Customers no longer just want a great product, but they also want a great experience during all stages of their customer journey

Tools you can start using

ideo is a leader in the human centred design space and has some great online resources that you can use within your organisation to start implementing this practice. These resources include methodologies such conducting interviews, understanding the five whys, immersion, and understanding your audience.

They have also released The Human-Centred Design Kit which is available to download online and is a great place to start on your organisation's journey to becoming future ready through customer centricity and experience design.

In 1996 Oral-B implemented human centred design approaches to design their children's toothbrush range. By watching kids brush their teeth they discovered that children hold their toothbrushes in a completely different way to adults.

Rather than manipulating the toothbrush with their fingers, children tended to hold the toothbrush in their fist, making it much more difficult to manoeuvre. By designing a children's toothbrush with a fat, squishy handle, they were able to disrupt the toothbrush market and capture loyal customers by listening to them and integrating the needs of their customers into a new product innovation.

There are many organisations, such as Oral-B, who have used human-centred design and customer centric approaches for particular product innovations. In order to be truly customer centric and future ready however, organisations need to make this process a part of their company culture and employees daily routine or way of working.

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