The power of human-centered design to understand customer journeys

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Despite technological advancements and robust data analytics, people still try to solve business problems without any insights to inform their strategic decision-making. For instance, if a product or service isn’t selling, many business owners automatically suggest changing the brochure or stripping the product from their shelves (both physical and digital).

And yet, you can drive a competitive edge by putting customers at the heart and helm of every decision.

Human-centered design is often thought of as the use of visualization while putting a person (or a user) at the center. An increasing number of business practitioners are now seeing the value of looking at things from the customer’s perspective. For the most part, understanding customer pain points, motivations, aspirations, needs and frustrations brings you closer to fixing the problem.

Here are three ways to use of human-centered design to better understand customer journeys and ultimately improve processes.

1. Know and understand the customer experience

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and see things from their point of view. By going through the customer’s journey and making the experience your own, you might spot several things that are making it challenging for the customer to try and buy. Is it long waiting times? A simple dissatisfaction with the actual product or some other underlying cause? The possibilities are endless, yet in human-centered design, it’s your job to know them all.

As a next step, it’s important to invest in some research, and initiate a facilitated session or focused-group discussion. The important thing is to get to the bottom of the problem so you can make the proper adjustments or fixes in the process.

2. Map the process

Mapping the process entails outlining the entire journey the customer goes through; from the time the customer takes interest to the time they make a purchase. Sometimes, the process map alone reveals where the problem is located, and you can adjust from there.

A process map can also reveal if a process is too complex. At the very least, it helps localize the problem to a smaller number of stages in the process. Certainly, you will have to set a certain framework based on your time and budget for analyzing the steps and phases of the process, as well as the players, tools and resources involved.

3. Get feedback

After you’ve created your process map visually with the initial revisions you’ve made, it’s now time to share it with the rest of your team. A critical part of human-centered design is getting as much insight from the people who have a stake in the process as possible.

Ultimately, your organization can successfully determine whether things are working seamlessly. During this review process, if someone discovers something is missing (or in excess, for that matter), this is valuable insight to take into consideration in the next redesign state.

After all, the essence of design thinking is that it gets better with each loop or each iteration that you take.

Parker Lee

Parker Lee is the managing partner of Territory, a design consultancy, who has developed and led teams in transformation, design thinking, and business development for decades. Co-author of The Art of Opportunity, he has created and facilitated dozens of design and visual thinking engagements.

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