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Tapping into the human experience to connect, understand and retain customers


How much do you value customer experience as a determining factor of a brand, product or service’s performance?                                        

If you are as passionate as I am about how much value a product or service is adding to your and others’ daily lives, then this will likely rate highly for you too. The key is to design for what people need and desire. To know what people’s needs are we have to gain an understanding of how they live their lives, how they interact with a product or service, and what prompts them to chose one brand over another.                        

Thus, design is not so much about the attributes of a product but increasingly about the experience a product or service invokes. Experience is relative to our individual values and what drives value in a particular context… and customers have become more sophisticated and discerning in their expectations. While leading brands have acknowledged that customer experience is now a cost of market entry, this has contributed to create a marketplace of consumers who value corporate conscience and the way a company reflects its own ethics and ideals as much as cost, quality and service.

Yet… when we think of design how much do we consciously think of how a person may benefit from it in the context of their lives?

If we look back through history, products more than services that have been designed well and for people – and not just for business gain – are those that have stood the test of time. We all have fond memories of those products we loved as a kid because they created experiences that shaped our lives. This is no different today, but the emphasis now is on catering to specific needs that enhance the individual lifestyle requirements of diverse customers. The era of personalisation and customisation has seen brands like Coca-Cola soda become personal for you and I by adding first names to their packaging.

Understanding how this redesign made consumers feel about the Coca-Cola brand is integral to a human centred approach. The human experience challenges businesses to be something more… to become integral to a customer’s psyche. Designing to meet the psychological and emotional needs of people is about empathy. This is what businesses need to get to tap into the human experience.

A human centred design approach has become not merely important to differentiate their brand but critical to their survival. Yet, companies have tended to be stuck in analysis mode , focused on profit as the motivation for developing new products and/or services. Designing for the human experience requires businesses to organise around purpose versus profit… and it calls for emotional connections that go beyond basic consumer need or reason. When companies invest in designing and delivering experiences they are more likely to create that enduring connection with the brand, and in turn attract the most loyalty and advocacy… and achieve profitability in the long term.

The exponential development of technology and unprecedented access to information today is giving consumers the power to choose what meets their diverse needs at any given time and this is driving a shift in power between companies and consumers. Human experience (HX) is where companies need to go to weather disruption, engage prospects and customers, and achieve the differentiation required for growth. 

But what do businesses need to do to be equipped to move to create a more human-centred experience?

Organizations must begin by meeting and delivering on the foundational requirements of CX. Introducing Design Thinking and specifically a human-centred design awareness is a good starting point. Then cascading this through the organisation, with the requisite change management and engagement support to develop empathy in practice through direct interaction with both front-line employees and customers can assist to instill a culture of consideration of what the customer’s experience.


These four fundamentals must be built into your company’s human centred design strategy: 


Successful customer experiences are based on an in-depth understanding of customer behaviors, feelings and motivations.


It must be simple for customers to derive value from experiences. Interactions should be accessible, effortless and uncomplicated.


Communications and solutions must be tailored to individual customer’s specific circumstances and delivered exactly when and where needed.


Specific interactions and touchpoints should be designed and delivered as a narrative.

If companies sincerely aspire to embed a lasting engaging connection with their customers where the brand holds the power to inspire and motivate choices, then organisations need to develop their capacity, capabilities and competence to better understand the values, emotions, aspirations, and life context of every customer they market and sell to.

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