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  • Writer's pictureDerek Bildfell

CX Design: Understanding Customer Needs and Human-Centric Features

As humans we are drawn to appealing designs. Looking to improve design is a simple way to drive success in any business. ‘Design’, in this sense, can be misunderstood to simply mean making objects visually appealing, but it is much more than that. Design involves understanding customers’ unmet needs then making a product or service that is able to address them.

We opened with a discussion of the three main things we look for in any design. Similar to our discussion about CX strategy in week 1, we aim to find designs that are effective, easy to use and enjoyable. Designs are effective when they are functionally superior; for example, a resealable chip bag. In addition, any design should follow what a human would naturally choose to do; therefore, designs are easy to use when they are more intuitive. For example, only putting a handle on a pull door. Lastly, designs are enjoyable when they are desirable by establishing an emotional connection with the customer; for example, a mosaic staircase. A strong design should check all these boxes.

We now know what establishes good design but how is it that we go about making these design decisions? There are three main tools for designing using external resources. The first is open innovation, this involves working with external stakeholders and it builds active and collaborative community engagement regarding specific issues and challenges. The next tool is crowdsourcing, this involves tapping into a large group of people and customers and receiving input at multiple levels. The last tool is co-creation, this involves working directly with customers to innovate a solution together.

A successful company that uses these strategies is LEGO. On the LEGO website they have a feature that allows customers to suggest a new structure or figure they would like LEGO to have available. The company then chooses the one with the most votes to manufacture and those who suggested it get it for free. This is a simple and easy design model that allows for quick customer input. It gives LEGO free ideas and allows for direct customer interaction and human collaboration. This is an example of crowdsourcing.

A crucial thing to remember when thinking about design is that above all, design should be human centered. This means that they leverage on the needs, contexts, behaviors, and emotions of the people that the solutions will serve. An interesting example is between 2013 and 2018 over 18, 400 people were killed in train accidents. This happened because people would think they would have enough time to cross the tracks but would overestimate their speed and underestimate the speed of the train and end up struck by the train. The design that was developed was simple, they painted yellow lines in increments along the tracks to help people better estimate the distance the train was from them.

Another example arose when companies realized that people have trouble knowing whether to push or pull on a door. With human centered design in mind they decided that they would only put a handle on a door if it was to be pulled. This was an easy indicator to people of when to push or pull.

Two other examples of human centered design are with food products. One is the shift from a glass ketchup bottle to a plastic ergonomic squeeze bottle. The second is with a bag of chips, shifting from the traditional bag to a pull out plastic tray and resealable container.

In conclusion, design practices are essential in making CX improvements to any organization. We are going to squeeze out the essence of CX design by pushing and pulling the ideas around. In the end, we'll see where the chips fall.

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