Often, slapping new technology on old problems can act like a proverbial band-aid — the problem may appear solved on the surface, but actually keeps festering underneath and the same customer experience issues keep resurfacing despite the shiny new digital bells and whistles.
The issue with this approach is jumping straight to the solution without first exploring the real nature of the problem. By applying design thinking — a process of first identifying the right problem to solve, then applying the right solution — a CX leader can ensure that an investment in new tech is as effective as possible both for their customer experience and their bottom line.
Ask the Right Questions, Get the Right Solutions
Design thinking is all about asking the right questions. Through this process of discovery, a company can achieve a better understanding of its customers’ goals, desires, and unmet needs.
Then the company can put the customer first when adopting new technology, or creating a new product or service. And a company with a customer-first philosophy is the company that has an edge in today’s competitive, CX-driven, marketplace.
Simply put, nothing can — or should — replace this customer-focused process as a critical means of making sure businesses are getting the real solutions they need.
But while many organizations want to invest in improving on their customer experience, industry research shows a majority are still in the early stages of implementing design and research into their CX initiatives. A recent Forrester benchmark on how well companies manage CX showed that a whopping 73% of firms are still only at the beginner level for design. And for research, that number is almost as bad, at 68%.
When more mature organizations successfully apply design thinking, the return on investment can be significant — an average of 85% for an organizational transformation and even higher for individual projects, according to Forrester. Organizational benefits are being realized in key areas of the business including reducing time to market, reducing redundant costs, and increasing sales.
Putting Design Thinking Into Practice
If customer experience or design thinking is new to your business, keeping these three considerations in mind can help you get started:
1. Talk directly to customers
Your customer share the best information about their needs, wants, and goals. Don’t guess or assume. Interview them about their experiences with your business — past, present, and what they want for the future. Then use those insights to guide your thinking and to define your customer experience solutions.
2. Ensure the research is qualitative and quantitative
There’s real value in combining both. In addition to speaking with customers to understand their wants and needs, gather data and analytics to inform your decisions and recommendations. Employing a data scientist to collect and analyze customer insights provides a smarter picture of what’s really happening — and what’s missing — from the desired experience.
3. Think broadly about the customer experience
Is software or hardware really your issue, or is there something else happening with your customer experience?
If you’re willing to introduce better software, it’s wise to broaden your approach to include larger improvements to the customer experience — as the two are often connected. Technology typically solves part of the problem, but a deeper understanding of the customer journey will uncover changes needed outside of technology to deliver a better experience.
Design Thinking in the Real World
A financial institution wanted a new third-party software solution to streamline its complaint-handling process, so that fewer individuals would be involved and complaints would be resolved faster. The existing process involved multiple departments, from front-line employees at contact centers and branches to business units.
Our company collaborated with the financial institution to evaluate its entire customer complaint process. We observed the process from every angle and identified the problems employees experienced at different stages; and conducted field research with customers that included in-home interviews to learn what frustrations customers experienced and where they overlapped with employee problems.
We learned that a technology solution could help some issues, but that company process and policy also could play a large role in improving both the customer and the employee experience.
We collaborated with the financial institution on the software solution they wanted. But by applying design thinking, asking the right questions, and observing their process from end-to-end, we also uncovered what really needed to change and helped identify additional, effective solutions.
Get Addicted to Design Thinking
When you’ve been in CX for a while, you come to realize that design thinking isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have for every digital or customer experience project. That’s because, through the process of questioning, research and discovery, we usually find that the real need is something that wasn’t anticipated. And, when addressed, it ultimately strengthens the company and its most important asset: customer relationships.
The Design Revolution. Forrester Research, October 17, 2019.
The ROI Of Design Thinking. Forrester Research, November 20,2019.