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We are in the midst of a customer-first revolution. When accessing services, people want to run their life with their phones. When purchasing products, they can (and do) leave reviews and create videos about their experience.

When you think about  the last thing you bought online, how would you describe your experience? What about the best customer experience you’ve ever had, on or offline?

Web-based technologies and social media have raised the competitive bar for consumer acquisition and retention higher than ever. You are no longer competing with just your traditional market competitors, you are competing with the best customer experience someone can recall.

Luckily, there is a magic bullet 🎉

Incorporating design thinking into your business strategy is the key to creating memorable customer experiences. Read on to learn more about these ideas and how to implement design thinking.

What Is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an empathetic approach to solving your audience’s problems. In the design thinking process, user experience is always at the centre of the inquiry.

This strategy is centred on empathy and understanding user needs and wants.

If you can meet or exceed customer expectations, you have a good chance of retaining a loyal customer. You will be able to scale your sales based on positive recommendations and word of mouth.

But how do you do that difficult task? How do you make the customer think you can read their mind, anticipate their needs, and deliver a pleasant experience or smooth transaction? And how do you make sure that you are solving the right problem?

Design thinking is the key. It uses a process for implementing a product or service design that prioritises the customer experience.

Innovators can use design thinking for designing products, services, and communications. It is a unique, non-linear approach instead of emphasising an exact definition of a problem.

To be effective, design thinking has to be present in all your client-facing aspects, not just specific projects. Walk through your business processes in the shoes of your customer. It’s time to put your user hat on and imagine the places they might stumble upon or smooth sailing.

How Does Design Thinking Work?

To understand how this works, it can help to consider what you don’t do.

Design thinking is not starting with a problem, doing market research, creating a solution, and launching it to the marketplace.

The intersection of those elements is the seed of a viable idea. The design thinking process consists of five stages: empathise, define, ideate, prototype, and test. These are the questions design thinking seeks to answer:

An Example of the Design Thinking Model

The Pursuit Model to bring a rapid design thinking approach to businesses. This structured process helps decision-makers align quickly on the right business opportunities, by balancing business’s inputs and priorities with their customers’ needs. This helps to establish a north star vision and ensures that the right solution is developed.

  1.  Explore and define the problem. Set the scope of the challenge and consider ideas that fit those boundaries. Conduct market research and gather user-centred observations.
  2. Qualify the opportunities identified. Evaluate ideas relative to each other based on tradeoffs between value to the customer vs the organisational investment.
  3.  Incubate the idea, as if you were growing a product or business in a week. At this stage, you can narrow the focus using resources such as the business model canvas. 
  4. is to ideate and agree on the best way to test and prove the idea’s value. This should focus on a key aspect of what needs to be true to make your idea a success.
  5.  Accelerate!  Create an achievable plan for making the test(s) happen. Create discovery sprints, wire-framing, and testing to validate ideas. Conduct design research for viable ideas to deliver, manage and optimise the product or service. Yay user testing!

Success Through Design Thinking in Business Strategy

Design thinking benefits companies across various industries, such as banking and finance, insurance, travel and airlines, as well as SaaS companies. In fact, any industry where the customer relationship is key can benefit from design thinking.

By creating products and services focused on providing an excellent user experience (UX), businesses are able to focus on achieving their KPI and ROI goals.

When measuring your ROI on Design Thinking

  • An increase in user productivity
  • Lower training costs
  • Small changes early in the design process = cost savings later
  • Customer service and support costs reduced

Key performance indicators (KPIs) for the success of design thinking are usually:

  • Increased user productivity
  • Increased sales
  • Savings in customer support costs and reduced error rates
  • Lower costs of providing training

In today’s Everything as a Service world, your competition is just one app or click away! It’s not hard to imagine how good UX increases conversion rates in sales and upsell cycles.

Focusing on an engaging, seamless user experience provides a competitive advantage and increases customer retention and loyalty.

Some of the most profitable companies in the world prioritise design thinking—for example, Google, Amazon, Atlassian and Tesla.

Design thinking at Apple is probably the best-known success story. Their relentless focus on innovation, quality and user experience allows them to charge premium prices and have fans lining up outside their stores on new release dates. And now that you know how to implement design thinking in business strategy, you can do the same.

Keeping It Simple

The bottom line is this: Customers and clients are human beings who appreciate companies that care enough to create thoughtful experiences. We are all humans after all, right?

For every successful product or service, there are probably dozens of others that failed. There is only one iPhone, one Tesla, and one Cirque du Soleil. They retain market dominance because of their empathy and focus on the customer experience.

Do you have questions about how to implement design thinking for your business strategy in your specific market? Contact us for a conversation. We’d love to chat.

Written Apr 7, 2022