Design thinking is not just for visual design. The nonlinear process can be applied to broader corporate initiatives that are trying to solve complex and challenging problems. This is especially beneficial when facing a human-centered challenge like customer experience (CX).
Design thinking is centered on three principles: (1) Empathy, (2) Expansive Thinking, and (3) Experimentation.
Empathy for the customer is essential to any CX initiative, so design thinking is a natural fit. Design thinking starts with understanding the needs, wishes, and habits of the customer, and then brings your team together to drive innovative thinking and ultimately action.
CX programs also tend to be cross-functional and wide-reaching. Gaining the necessary consensus, clearly identifying problems, setting priorities, and defining actions plans can be challenging. Design thinking workshops can help – ultimately delivering specific detailed actions to be completed in short timeframes.
What Does a Design Thinking Workshop Look Like?
A typical design thinking workshop engages cross-functional participants in a series of half-day or full-day facilitated sessions. Ideally, they are led by a trained facilitator who guides the participants through the process. There is a high level of interaction using small group breakout exercises, visual tools (boards, sticky notes, etc.), and healthy debate. The “magic” of the workshop comes from fostering innovative ideas, collaboration, and increased buy-in from participants. All of which leads to an actionable plan that will enhance the customer experience and drive your CX strategy forward.
The following is an example roadmap for the workshops. Note that these sessions can be done in-person or virtually leveraging digital collaboration tools.
Workshop 1 – Define the Vision
- Cast the vision and the goals for the CX program to align your organization.
Workshop 2 – Understand the Customer, Build Empathy
- Create your customer and employee personas: What do they feel and hear? What are their pain points and goals? Through this, you build empathy for your customers.
Workshop 3 – Improve the Customer Journey
- Map personas participation to the customer journey steps, or focus on one step of the journey to get started.
- Ideate on the gaps that are impacting the journey by having all participants jot ideas down on “sticky notes”. Evaluate and prioritize captured ideas with the participants to gain consensus on top 1-2 gaps.
- Break into small groups for ideation on potential solutions to the top 1-2 gaps. Discuss and debate pros and cons of identified solutions as a full group to select and vote on the top solutions to address the gaps.
- Translate solutions into actions that can be completed in a 2-week timeframe with demonstrable results. This allows for experimentation and adjustment on a frequent basis.
Make Design Thinking Part of Your CX Culture
Culture is the aggregated outcome of how people in an organization normally behave. Infusing the design thinking principles of empathy, expansive thinking and experimentation in your CX initiatives influences that collective behavior over time. Ultimately, it will lead to an acceleration of your CX initiatives, and a better journey for your customers.