How can you use Design Thinking to make emotional connections with your customers?

Many organisations are now looking to harness a new social technology, to help foster a culture of innovation across their business – not just within product and tech departments. Akin to the explosion of agile & lean outside the context of engineering and technology, the adoption of design thinking as a principal has the potential to harness your workforce’s creative potential, exponentially improve process and the way you do things, and as importantly for successful digital transformation programmes, win hearts and minds across the organisation as employees feel at the centre of change.
Design thinking is about making emotional connections with your users/customers emotions, observing and thoroughly researching their behaviours to interpret what they want and need. It takes a combination of analysis and creative imagination, in order to innovate and identify with the emotions of your audience, leading to an understanding of the challenges they face when coming into contact with your brand. This then enables you to adopt solution focused strategies to over come problems or capitalise on opportunity.
There are clear steps and structure to the design thinking process, predominately geared to the understanding and shaping of customer experience but each design-thinking activity also influences the experiences of the innovators themselves, as they are encouraged to think broadly, experiment and iterate without staying ‘stuck’ on an initiative that was never going to be successful.Fail Fast, Learn Quickly.’
This initial discovery stage is all about researching the emotions of your audience. Instead of making personal assumptions, research what the end user wants and needs, a good process for this is to use a customer journey map. This is a process to visualise the users perception and interaction with your brand and identify their expectations. In a design centric culture user experience is at the forefront of everything the business does, making people their priority. Connecting with the consumer on an emotional level encourages them to identify with your brand at a deeper level, and connect with the brand story and identity across channels.
From the information gathered in the Discovery stage, you can now understand potential problems. Creating behaviour based customer personas will help to identify issues on a more personal level, that are naturally more goal orientated as you force your innovators to have their feet firmly in their customers’ shoes.
Ideation is an agile and energetic creative process used to generate new ideas. By using a team of carefully selected individuals with a diverse and unique insight to collaborate together to achieve successful ideas, the idea behind this method is to produce as many ideas as possible, and then narrow them down to the most practical solutions, in order to innovate or improve on design. Ideation helps you to “think outside the box” and come up with solutions which aren’t as obvious in plain sight.
The experimental stage. This is the stage where models of the product or service are created to investigate the problems and solutions discussed earlier on. They are then tested with the solutions and are either accepted, rejected or to be improved based on the outcome and reflection on the customers experience. This step is at the centre of successful digital transformation change, it ensures all steps have been taking to release a product or service to market that the customer actually wants.
The product is then tested, but this is not always the final end product/service. This stage can also be used to reflect on the solutions to the problems and identify necessary alterations.
Although we have identified 5 stages to the design thinking process, and they all contribute to the final design, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to complete one stage to move onto the next. In large organisations where many different parts of the design team are involved, certain stages may be on-going at the same time, but collaboration of the departments is key to a successful outcome, and iteration of the process my be necessary to identify all areas of possibility.
In summary, by following the design thinking process, the activities aim to minimise human assumption or bias in the innovation process, meaning superior products or services are launched to the market faster and importantly with greater success, whilst also driving positive cultural change that has employee buy in and engagement at the heart of it.