Customer-Based Experience in Design Thinking


If you’re a CEO, if you’re a strategist, and you’re thinking about how to differentiate your company, your services, and you’re not thinking about user experience (design thinking), you’re probably missing out on a very, very important lever.

Design is about adding value to our lives as people, as individuals. Tim Brown defines design thinking as a human-centered approach to innovation drawing from designers’ toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success; it is a cross-disciplinary approach to problem-solving recognizing the needs to develop innovations that are viable, needful to customers, and give customers better experiences. We see in the design management index that design-oriented companies have outperformed others for the past ten years.

Customer-based Experience

Think about a product you recently bought. Now think about the bad or good experience you had buying and using that product.

Increasingly, it’s difficult to separate these two elements, and we’re seeing many cases where customers prioritize the experience of buying and using a product over the performance of the product itself. Customer experience is becoming a key source of competitive advantage as companies look to transform how they do business. Especially in this time of Covid-19 crisis, how companies behave to their employees, customers and the community in which they operate will forever define them.

At a workshop i facilitated at Toptech’s staff retreat on March 21, 2020, i asked the participants to share their experience about a time they bought something or received a service they either liked or didn’t like and share how they felt about the experience. A participant shared his experience of how he ordered a shoe from an e-commerce website but what was delivered to him was different from what he ordered and that made him feel very angry and disappointed.

Maybe the wrong shoe sent to the customer was a mistake from one of the staff members during packaging and delivery, or it could be an error from the delivery agent, or even from the web platform where the order was purchased, but whatever it is doesn’t matter. What matters the most is how bad the customer felt about the experience (which was why he still remembered it and i could feel the emotions when he spoke about it in the class) and how that feeling may lead to a decision that could potentially affect the e-commerce Company. When this happens, it has a direct impact on the business’s sales and income, hence declining revenue. If these kinds of experiences continue to occur with other customers, slowly over the years the company will lose almost all his customers and begins to struggle for survival.

No business is perfect, we all make mistakes but what matters most is not leaving our customers with a bad feeling from their experience with us but turning that feeling into something good by going all out to create a new experience for the customer to counter the former. The customer may still remember the wrong shoe that was sent to him, however, he's remembering it not for the bad feeling but for the good feeling he had when the e-commerce company turned it around by doing something remarkable for him.

The experience you create for your customers will leave a lasting impact on their mind, their wallet and your business.


I had a similar experience with an Amazon purchase i made in the U.S.

If you order any item from Amazon and you choose to return the item you ordered, they have designed a way to get instant feedback to determine if the return decision by the customer was a direct mistake from Amazon, from the seller or the customer changed his or her mind. Each of these has it’s own outcome or response from the company.

I ordered a baby bed and a cot. Both were sent to me but the bed was bigger than the size of the cot, therefore, it didn’t fit in. When i made my request for a return, after assessing that it was their fault, Amazon sent a response email to me and they said “Hi Cynthia, we apologize for the mistake in size. We are processing your refund now. You do not have to return the bed to us, you can keep it. You will get a refund in 3 working days. Thank you!.” I received my refund as they said and i still have the bed with me to date. I felt very good and happy. I shared this experience with everyone around me. I’m sure that also encouraged them to buy too from Amazon. This implies that Your customers are your best sales agents. The experience you create for them will be passed on to others.

Amazon Prime. The Apple iPhone. Netflix. Tesla. For those companies that get design right, the prizes are rich. The S&P 500 companies that invested most into design processes, capabilities, and leadership over the past decade, including design stalwarts such as Disney, Nike, and P&G, outperformed the rest of the index by 211 percent. -McKinsey.



Cynthia Mene

April 3rd, 2020

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