Evolve Your Customer Experience with Design Thinking

Design thinking is all about putting people first in the design process.

As consumers, when we have an issue with a product or service, we want quick, effective resolution. We expect companies to understand that our time is valuable, know what we’re going through, and fix our problem so we can go on to our next task.

However, when it comes to the customer experience, many organizations fall short. The key to providing excellent experiences, according to Eduardo Moraes, director of digital strategy and technology for Cylogy, is design thinking.

“Design thinking is about putting people first in the design process. It’s about getting inside the heads of consumers, understanding their expectations and knowing what needs to be done differently to meet them,” said Moraes. “It’s also about the art of the possible — rethinking processes and trying to bring new perspectives to old ways of doing business.”

Cylogy is a provider of digital experience consulting services based in San Francisco and is a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s virtual Digital Experience Summit (DXS) Conference. During the conference, Moraes presented the session, “Human-Centered Design Thinking for NextGen Customer Service.” We spoke with him about how design thinking can help organizations provide the experiences their customers expect. 

Keeping Up with Evolving Customer Expectations

Simpler Media Group: What are some of the major trends you’re seeing in customer service today? 

Eduardo Moraes: What I’ve most recently noticed is that it’s increasingly important to deliver a tailored experience to your customers, and there are two big components here.

The first is context. When someone calls into a service desk or when they need to interact with a service provider in any particular way, customers expect the company to have their details at the ready and have some context about products they own, recent service requests and any potentially hot topics for this individual. 

The second theme is empowerment of front-line service workers. For example, when you book a trip and for some reason you need to change or cancel it, you expect customer service to be able to quickly find the details about your booking and be empowered to give you options that make sense according to your previously expressed preferences. 

Getting transferred multiple times and having to restate the issue is frustrating for customers, leads to customer churn, and is totally unacceptable to the modern consumer. Well-run organizations avoid this mess and drive faster resolutions with better integrated channels, an empowered front line and more thoughtfully constructed journeys.

SMG: Why do you believe organizations need to rethink the way they interact with and service their customers?

Moraes: Over the past two and a half years, the world has again changed significantly. Yes, we’ve seen even bigger changes in the past, like the advent of the Internet, digital services and mobile devices. But this most recent shift with the pandemic presents a new normal and sets a new bar for digital customer experiences.

Today, consumers expect easy online self-service, rapid online purchases and quick customer service resolutions. And, with the explosion of ecommerce over the last two years, consumers expect full lifecycle customer experiences. If you’re running your show like it’s still December 2019, you’re likely starting to look like a dinosaur in the eyes of an increasingly large percentage of your customers.

Post-pandemic thrivers are those who focus on cohesive cross-channel, cross-device customer experiences that are fast, relevant and reliable. And on the customer service side, thrivers are enabling and empowering the front line as top priorities. 

Put People First with Design Thinking

SMG: Why do you believe design thinking is the best approach to improving customer service in a digital world? What are the biggest benefits you’ve seen?

Moraes: I’ve worked with a number of ideation and design approaches in the past. The traditional way was always more process- and requirements-oriented. It was normally about the what and how, sometimes keeping it to a very narrow technical perspective.

Design thinking is about rethinking what we’re doing and why from a human perspective. It means putting yourself in different shoes, having different participants involved in the workshops and trying to bring new perspectives whenever possible. The biggest benefit here is breaking down the narrow, siloed view of what we do and setting new boundaries for what we could be doing. That’s why it’s one the best ways to evolve your products and services.

A human-centered approach, the design thinking techniques we use at Cylogy are all based on how customers, employees and anyone else interacting with a service will use that service. We strive to understand their top priorities and most common ways of getting things done. Ultimately, we focus on helping companies uncover the ideas and needs that lead to meaningful improvements in the customer experiences they’re delivering.

SMG: During your presentation, you discussed how you help companies better interact with their online communities, improve their content publishing processes and build more relevant digital experiences through design thinking. Can you give an overview of how design thinking can impact these three areas?

Moraes: In order to interact effectively with online communities, you need to understand your audience segments and what they’re looking for. We help our customers do this through exercises like defining personas and developing journey maps.

Content publishing processes are linked to these personas because they help us understand the nature of the content, the need triggers and consumption patterns for these different groups. At Cylogy, we walk customers through the different workflows and content planning tools that various platforms offer, as well as identify existing gaps in the technical environment.

Finally, building more relevant digital experiences has everything to do with personalization and how we deliver relevant content. Using design thinking tactics such as the “Creative Matrix” and “Alternative Worlds” can help us to imagine solutions from significantly different perspectives.

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