Five ways companies can inculcate design thinking for superior customer experience

Thomas Edison is best known for inventing the electric bulb; but he was also aware that the invention was of little use to people if there was no system to generate, transmit, and distribute electric power. So he went ahead and created that too. His ability to envision what people would use his product for and his ability to design things to fit those needs, makes Edison one of the very early exponents of “design thinking” (DT) – innovating and developing end products and systems keeping the users and their experience in mind.

In today’s world, there is a great degree of relevance for design thinking in the technology industry as well. According to industry data, only about 30% of large programs meet the expectations of the clients. As we take on more and more complex programs, it is critical that we understand the importance of meeting business objectives through “design thinking” and keep end-user experience/ usability in mind. Sometimes developers take on IT projects focusing on deployments, as per specifications, but never fully appreciate the needs of real users who expect a certain quality of service. Today, Agile development is becoming increasingly popular for executing IT projects, as it focuses on end user needs and perspectives and helps inculcate design thinking in the development teams.

So, how can you inculcate design thinking in your teams?

  1. Empathize. Have a clear understanding and empathy for the customer problems, and develop a strong appreciation of the end-user perspective
  2. Define. Define the problem, and see how cross–functional blending of teams adds real value for the client.
  3. Ideate. Having identified the core of the problem, extract multiple ideas
  4. Prototype. Use tools and methodologies like agile and prototyping to clearly bring out user perspectives early on in the project phase
  5. Test. Fine-tune a selected direction, finally, pick the winning solution and execute

Thinking about it a different way, would a claimant who met with an auto accident, be more interested in using the insurance mobile app to raise the claim or ensuring the safety of his or her self and co-travelers? Are we looking at “ensuring safety first” need of the claimant, while building a solution for the insurance providers? If not, possibly we are not designing the best possible solution, technology can provide.

When helping one of our clients in the banking space for example, we started with clearly identifying and defining the problem statement. Our teams lead the engagement with design thinking, which lasted 6 weeks and 30 working sessions – we produced 7 new concepts and 70+ screens ready for finalization for end users. The outcomes were delivered by leveraging design-thinking, in which working sessions were used to empathize and ideate with users and rapid prototyping was used to select and enhance users’ ideation process.

When Design Thinking is properly integrated with strong solution methodologies and delivery excellence, it can enhance service offerings, helping to drive sustainable best-in-class client delight. The secret recipe for delivering a world-class customer experience is to identify customer issues by literally putting ourselves ‘in their shoes’ and do right by the customer by perfecting every aspect of the customer experience.

Samir Dhir

President, Banking and Financial services, Virtusa Corporation. Samir is responsible for global delivery, resource management and client delight focus across all our operating geographies. In addition, Samir is the Head of our India operations and is a Board member of Virtusa Consulting Services. Samir previously worked for Wipro Technologies where he managed delivery with over 5,000 people for technology, media, transportation and services business, handled their SAP Practice and ran the managed services business. Prior to Wipro he held leadership positions with Avaya and Lucent Technologies in the UK.Samir received his MBA from the Warwick Business School, UK and holds a B Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.

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  • Bill Sexton March 31, 2015

    Totally agree agile can help deliver a better user & customer experience. However there is a dilemma: most projects are constrained by cost & time boundaries. Most boards want as much certainty as they can get about what they’ll get and when as well as being concerned about value for money. Agile is vague & open ended as its iterative so you don’t know what you’ll get by when. The cultural environment has got to accept a high degree of vagueness for agile to be successful.

  • Himanshu Singh April 17, 2015

    Nice perspective. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of customer as well as end user by developing a sense of ownership towards the program.

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