design thinking approach

Netflix made big news when one of its original films “Roma” won the Oscar for best director. But for people in the digital design business, the most notable thing about Netflix is the success of its human-centric algorithms.

About 10-12 yrs ago, marketing professionals realized that content is a critical part of the marketing pie, and have been working arduously to create content to help win the attention-seeking race.

Netflix has created algorithms that are great at suggesting content that an individual will love. It can do that because it tracks and processes viewers’ preference data without obstructing the streaming experience. The company claims 80 percent or more of the content that people select, is now based on those algorithmic recommendations.

This awesome combination of automation and human preference is a major reason that Netflix’s revenue, $20.15 billion in 2019, has grown by 30 percent or more annually in recent times. It’s also a good example of the power of Design Thinking.

Design Thinking, which is used by top brands such as Apple, Google and Samsung, focuses on the human aspect of the user when ideating, creating and applying technology. It’s an approach to innovation that any consumer-related industry Chief Marketing Officer would embrace.  

Read Also: How Design Thinking is helping professionals excel

With Design Thinking, smart digital-led technologies are just the starting point. Human emotions and conduct are priorities. The Design Thinking process is highly iterative, with experiments and continuous revisions to challenge assumptions and redefine problems. It’s about discovering innovative solutions to better the customer experience.

Success stories from Design Thinking include smart user interfaces that give customers the power to personalize their experience as per their preferences. Or automated chatbots/voice agents that can understand voice or text and respond humanly. 

A good example close to you would be Google Assistant, it actively provides contextual notifications about flight status, traffic, product deliveries and more – all without being asked.

Improved Customer Experiences Equals Improved Business Outcomes

Creating optimal customer experiences not only makes people feel good but also has true business benefits.

Let us give you some examples of more traditional industries, using Design thinking.

In Scotland, the call centers for a big water utility were hounded with customer complaints each winter. In winters, low temperatures may cause aging pipes to freeze and burst. Desperate consumers were calling the call centers. The utility’s inability to cope not only added to customers’ anger but also damaged the utility’s reputation. The company was also charged heavy fines from the regulators. The utility couldn’t change the cold climate nor replace every customer’s water pipes. What it could fix was the internal complaint process.  

The utility with the help of design thinking experts designed a robust multi-channel method of handling customer complaints via email and through its website, as well as over the phone. The new system was digitally driven which could automate service orders and even dispatch repair-crews. Customers received text messages on the progress of repairs. To top it off the utility used predictive analytics and enabled personalization to customize customers’ experiences. There was a drop in Customer complaints by 80 percent in a single year. Also, the new system saved the utility more than $12 million.

Another example is of a large U.S. health insurer, Humana, the challenge was not a lack of digitization. Instead, on digging deeper they found it was a lack of Design Thinking as the company added online components over several years. The result was Humana ended up with a large number of digital properties – more than 60 different websites. Humana decided to restore order by creating an integrated digital brand that would offer its users a personalized, consistent experience across all channels.

Using a design-led approach, the company updated 5,000+ webpages and combined 150+ components under one digital platform. Making it easier for the company to engage with its customers through social channels. The new system enabled to personalize the communications strategy – customers would now receive the right promotions at the right time. These design-led improvements helped the company expand its customer base by 18 percent.

Also Read: Design Thinking: A Strategy to build innovative products

Customer Satisfaction should be seen as a Profit Center

When technology decisions flow from a human-centered Design Thinking approach, consumers will always have a superior experience. An experience in which the technology is an enabler rather than a distraction. The information about customers that flows naturally from their interactions with the products and services will provide valuable data insights. These insights can make marketing leaders learn quickly from changing consumer habits and respond faster. Or even to anticipate consumer needs and drive innovations to meet them.

To sum it up, Design Thinking can help consumer-facing technology not only increases customer satisfaction but also drive profitability. Just ask Netflix.

We talked about the pace at which the world and everything in it are evolving. Such times call for disruptive innovations and we believe Design Thinking is the go-to approach for the same. If you are a professional who is looking out on how to start in the field of design thinking, then look no further. You can start with Stanford Executive Education’s Design Thinking Course in collaboration with Great Learning.

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