Design thinking is a concept that enables business leaders to organize and structure the creative process effectively. Design thinking involves solution based thinking by using creativity and adopting a methodological approach. Design thinking is extremely useful for new product/service design and generation of new ideas for problem solving. There is a drastic shift in organizations to put design thinking at the heart of their business strategy for operational efficiency, innovation and long-term planning.
From a customer service perspective, the principles of design thinking can be used to enhance the customer service experience by following these simple steps:
The first step involves developing empathy with customers, which can be done through analysis of the customer journey, starting from the point of first contact and leading up to after-sales services.
Once the shortcomings and discrepancies have been spotted in the customer journey, the team needs to identify the right problem to solve. After intensive examination, the problem(s) have to be defined in terms of cross functional insights. The main purpose of definition phase is to pinpoint what needs to be solved and presenting the problem in such a way that it invites viable solutions.
The next phase involves creating multiple solutions for consideration through cross department inclusion, which would help design solutions from more than one perspective. Once it has been decided which solution to implement, prototyping is carried out. Design teams are required to explore a variety of solutions and communicate them with all the stakeholders.
The finalized solution is tested under normal business conditions to gauge its effectiveness. The performance metrics are recorded and compared. This stage also involves tweaking and adjustment to optimize operations.
Design thinking offers a unique way to analyze customer service problems from the customer’s perspective and design human centered solutions. The concept puts emphasis on the interactions between the customer service department and the customers. Since the solutions rely heavily on the information collected in the initial stages of observation, research has to be done in order to develop an understanding of the problem or recognition of an opportunity. This enables the design team to study the environment and take into consideration all the possible constraints. Design thinking allows managers to get to the root cause of the problem through analysis rather than assumptions. Popular tools to effectively observe and record include focus groups and one-on-one interviews with the customers and members of customer service department.
The process also encourages innovation and problem solving through creative thinking, since the process requires brainstorming and formulation of new ideas from all stakeholders in the process, as collaboration and collective teamwork are important constituents of design thinking. Extensive prototyping and testing ensures that the proposed solutions are in alignment with the vision of the company and meet the customer needs. Moreover, the process of design thinking revolves around feedback and periodic re-evaluations, which reflects its flexibility and room for continuous improvement and adjustment.
Design thinking allows the use of advanced analytical techniques to measure the efficiency of service provided by the customer service department. The data collected from the operational activities of a customer service department is shaped into meaningful analysis that enables managers to make better decisions and devise a long-term strategy in alignment with the goals of the company. Moreover, after the implementation of new service design, the data can also be used to validate and highlight the enhancements in performance of the departments. In case, if the changes, fail to materialize the desired results after the testing phase, the data can be used to tweak and adjust the customer service procedures and remove any possible shortcomings.
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