As discerning digital customers place more value on design aspects such as experience, usability, emotional connect, design has become the most important factor of competitive advantage.
According to Forrester, businesses that lead with design attain more satisfied and loyal customers, competitive advantage and greater market share. In fact, 50% of design-led businesses reported more satisfied and loyal customers as a benefit of advanced design practices.
The annual Design Management Institute Index shows design-driven companies have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P 500 by more than 200% over 10 years.
Design-led strategies can provide the most innovative, creative, and outcome-based solution to some of industry’s most pressing customer engagement challenges.
What is a design-led experience?
People-centered: Modern customer experiences are designed for real people based on an intricate understanding of how people behave, perceive, and interact. An important example for this is the urgent need to design for inclusivity and accessibility to make products and services ready for people with special needs. This means designing age-responsive user interfaces, interactions, and experience journeys for people with visual, aural, motor or cognitive difficulties. This form of inclusive design not only brings even the extreme users in the center of your products/services but also builds long-term trust and loyalty.
Humanized interactions elevate the mechanical aspect of product/service interactions into more relatable, contextual, personal, and emotional engagements between the customer and brand. This also includes humanizing the technology behind customer journeys, so that customers are better understood and served. Empathy is key.
There are two ways of doing this:
- Redesign the technology driven interactions to mimic human interactions
Smart user interfaces that personalize user interactions based on preferences, chatbots that can understand and respond in natural language, voice agents that are sounding increasingly human like while responding to customer queries with context, are few examples.
2. Invoke human driven interactions at the right time to delight customers
In case of channel failure, majority of customers still prefer human interaction as the secondary point of contact to resolve any issues they may have, reliably. This is only possible if businesses understand customers on a deeper level, visualize their journey across channels and touchpoints, empathize with their needs and concerns and predict what they need and when they need it. Use empathy maps, customer journeys, voice of the customer, and service design techniques to relive your customer’s persona.
Make it easier for customers to get in touch with human representatives through any digital channel. Ensure availability of customer information with front-office or store staff, airline crew, insurance rep, banking agent to serve their customers better. Establish a responsive social media team to not just help customers, but also engage them in conversation.
Perpetually Innovative: Design-led experiences are inherently innovative and self-perpetuating as and when customers change and evolve. What started as a click-to-call assistance has evolved into a web chat interface manned by a human, which has today metamorphosed into chatbots or voicebots that handle increasingly complex dialogues with customers, to offer frictionless shopping experience. One can easily imagine a future where shopping would be such a decentralized task that users could seamlessly shop while chatting with others. Isil Uzum demonstrates such a concept of shared interfaces where bots could be invoked in a conversation to book and pay for flight tickets.
Experience First. Technology Second: Design-led experiences, seek to provide a seamless, personalized journey to customers, and endeavour to slip technology into the background of all interactions. They primarily focus on helping customers achieve their goals, and build long term emotional connect by way of functional, economic, and aesthetic design. A good example of this is personal assistants like Google Assistant that provide contextual notifications like flight status, traffic updates, shipment notifications, without the user having to invoke a request. Likewise, Netflix is harvesting the power of machine learning and AI to offer incredibly accurate recommendations that is dramatically improving their customer’s content consumption habits. In fact, their algorithm is so good that 80% of all watched content is based on recommendations. Netflix further claims to deliver more than 250 million tailored experiences to their subscriber base.
How to create design led experiences?
- Attuning to customer expectations with design thinking: Uncommon business challenges require unconventional problem solving approaches. Whether it is about reimagining a product or service, or creating unique solutions to your customer’s biggest pain points, design thinking can help arrive at creative solutions through collaborative problem solving. Gather insights on what your customers need, define what problem you really need to solve, ideate as a group, prototype, and iterate your best ideas. Find out how we helped a European postal company reimagine its vision of the future.
- Refocus your lenses to look at the big picture with service design: As digital ecosystems become complex, so do customer journeys and the gamut of entities and systems associated with them. Businesses should look at adopting a service design approach to visualize, investigate, and understand the path that their customer’s take across their interaction lifecycle and touchpoints. This holistic view not only gives a glimpse of interactions where the brand fails to impress but also highlights room for innovation.
- Craft interactive experiences on emerging channels with experience design: Technologies like voice assistants, bots, immersive reality, and wearables are effecting disruptive changes in the front-office. But, businesses are far from integrating these technologies seamlessly into the customer experience. Businesses have to entirely rethink user journeys, instead of projecting traditional journeys onto modern technologies. Envision creative use cases that disrupt existing processes. For example, asking your smart speaker to tell you a joke is a feature, but having it order your groceries for you is a disruption.