Ignite Innovation with Service Design Thinking

Part I:  An Introduction

Over the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed reading various customer experience-related articles and blogs that offer insightful predictions for what’s to come in 2014.  Out of all the reading I’ve done, I’ve noticed a common theme emerging in every forecast… Empathy. 

In fact, one excellent post in particular, written by Bruce Temkin, specifically refers to 2014 as “The Year of Empathy.”  In it Mr. Temkin states that this year companies will increasingly focus on customer experience, and many will realize that they lack a deep understanding and appreciation for their customers.  And… they’ll be looking for new ways to gain that understanding.

Yes, I believe that empathy will indeed abound in 2014, and I think we’ll see some exciting things related to customer experience and product development as a result.  But I’d like to take a step back and pull the idea of customer empathy into a broader framework of Service Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design.  This is what I think will be THE BIGGEST thing this year and in the years to come (and empathy goes hand-in-hand with it).

The principles, processes and techniques associated with Design Thinking are taking the business world by storm.  There’s even a prestigious school – the Stanford D School Institute of Design – that’s dedicated to teaching and advancing it.  The most progressive companies in the world are sending their top talent there to learn the “how to’s” so they can apply them to improve and enhance their customer experiences, create and improve their products and strengthen their organization as a whole.

So what exactly is Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design and why should you care? 

Let’s start with why you should care.  It can be summed up with one word… Innovation.  

Design Thinking is a proven and systematic driver of unprecedented innovation and problem solving.  It’s been used by some of the world’s most inventive companies, including GE, Apple and John Deere.

In today’s business climate, routine innovation in our products and experiences is table stakes.  To compete and differentiate, we have to infuse innovation into the nooks and crannies of our entire business, all of our experiences and day-to-day operations.  Not just our products. Design Thinking can help us do that.  Here’s a definition (that I borrowed, in part, from IDEO)…

  • Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a process and set of techniques used to create new solutions for the world, including products, services, environments, organizations and interactions.  Its purpose is to help organizations move from a company-centered view of the world to a customer-centered view of the world.  It starts with a challenge and the people we’re designing for.  It begins by examining the needs, dreams and behaviors we want to affect with our solutions.  It involves listening, researching and understanding.  It’s about identifying what’s desirable, feasible and viable.  It can help companies:
    • Connect better with the people they serve
    • Transform data into actionable ideas
    • See new opportunities
    • Increase speed and effectiveness of creating new solutions

IDEO breaks Human-Centered Design down into 3-phase process:

H:  HEAR… collect stories and inspiration.  Prepare for and conduct field research.

C:  Create… work together with a multi-disciplinary team and use a variety of tools to translate what you heard/observed into frameworks, opportunities, solutions and prototypes

D:  Deliver… begin to bring your solutions to fruition through revenue and cost modeling, capability assessment and implementation planning to help you launch your solution.

Customer journey mapping plays an important role in the Human-Centered Design process.  It’s a powerful instrument in the Design Thinking toolkit.  As such, Touchpoint Dashboard is a strong advocate of the Design movement and has a vested interest in its advancement. We are thrilled to offer a journey mapping tool that’s contributing to the innovation emerging from Service Design projects around the world.

We encourage you to explore how you can start using customer journey mapping and applying Service Design concepts to improve your organization, experiences and products this year.  Following are some resources to get you started, and you can expect to see more Service Design-related posts our blog in the months to come.

Design Thinking Resources to Get You Started

We also invite you to explore how you can use Touchpoint Dashboard’s customer journey mapping platform as part of your overall Design project how it can ignite innovation in your organization.  Visit TouchpointDashboard.com and start your 15-day free trial today.