We are quickly finding ourselves in the age of the customer. Defined by Forrester as “A 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers”, this shift will stress business’ abilities to adapt and stay relevant. Especially in the healthcare field, with new regulations, new competitors, and a move away from the comfort zone of past, we must keep the customer in mind throughout the development of new products and services.

The Role of Human-Centered Design

One methodology of incorporating empathy into the design process is called human-centered design. The importance of empathy cannot be overstated enough – it leads to the understanding of the problems, needs, and frustrations that a user may have, and eliminates the “internal-first” viewpoint that many organizations still utilize. The process of human-centered design ensures that product and service offerings are catered to the consumer, from the beginning to the end.

Human Centered Design Tools

There are a multitude of techniques to help keep the design process customer-focused. Some of the major ones we use are as follows:

  • Design Thinking - Popularized by organizations such as the Stanford d.school, IDEO, and others, design thinking is a popular customer-focused service design technique. Here at Cast & Hue, we use design thinking on a regular basis to gain a deep understanding of empathy towards the needs of multiple customer groups. These brainstorming sessions start by segmenting participants into groups based on one’s role in interacting with a product or service, then encouraging them to play, brainstorm, and ideate. Because we are incorporating multiple viewpoints and working to solve a problem from multiple directions, we often discover holes in the experience that may have otherwise gone undiscovered with traditional market research.
  • Journey Mapping - Journey Mapping Workshops bring customers and organizational leaders together as the customers map their journey as consumers in great detail, outlining important touch points, vital messaging and the moments of truth (Crux Points) along their journey.
  • Segmentation & Personas - Segmentation groups consumer populations based on patterns of past experiences, behaviors, attitudes, goals, intent, or other strategically relevant factors. The resulting structure enables organizations to identify, contrast and prioritize audience groups based on similar needs or revenue potential.
  • Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) - Jobs to be done is a technique used to understand what exactly a customer wants to a achieve from a product (ie. why they “hire” a product). For example, a surgeon with their scalpel. Though the scalpel is designed to cut tissue, the surgeon is “hiring” the scalpel to access the internal organs of a patient. By understanding this job, it has allowed companies to create new techniques, such as laparoscopic surgery, instead of just iterating on a scalpel. By understanding the jobs that customers require, it allows one to innovate new product offerings to achieve their needs, as opposed to just iterating on the functions of a product.
  • Experience Mapping - In experience mapping workshops, customers, service providers, and other leaders collaborate to map out the experience of the customer in comparison to their desired experience: pinpointing the gaps customers may experience when using the product, and understanding their emotional journey and identifying opportunities to create new and better experiences.

The need to adopt a customer-centered product development plan may not be immediately evident, but hopefully the insights offered here provide a window into what being customer-centric can do for your organization. By employing tactics such as co-creation and empathetic design, the products and services your company creates can deliver a memorable experience focused on accomplishing the needs that a customer may have.

comments powered by Disqus