Challenges in adopting a Design Thinking approach for crafting delightful customer experiences and how businesses can overcome them

Digitization is not just reshaping consumer’s needs, it is forcing businesses to continuously innovate and reinvent themselves, to keep up with these changing needs and stay competitive.

We are seeing businesses striving to come up with customer-centric solutions and in that context changing their business models altogether. For instance: product companies emerging as product & services companies — e.g. automotive giants Daimler and BMW becoming getting into the rental business. And, service companies are offering products — e.g. e-commerce giant Amazon offering products like Amazon Echo, Kindle e-reader and Firestick.

While we are seeing a massive shift in the business landscape, is that enough keep up with the demands of the new-age customer?

Digitization has not just changed the way consumers’ expectations from businesses, but also has flattened the competitive landscape and made the barriers of entry low. Today, businesses face challenges not just from their direct industry but also outside.

For e.g. Uber turned the tables for the automotive and transportation industry with a solution that adds value to the consumer’s life and an intuitive app. Airbnb did that for the hospitality sector. In an age where we are loaded with data about the consumer, understanding that data, seeing the hidden patterns and drawing insights from them has become more important than ever before.

However, the most critical aspect is building solutions by keeping in mind the fact that any business whether B2B or B2C at the end of the day H2H (Human to Human).

Hence, taking care of the human element in the solutions that businesses build has become a significant aspect of engaging with the consumer.

This is where Design Thinking comes into place.

Design Thinking is a human-centered, iterative design process consisting of 5 steps — Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Design Thinking can help businesses understand and simplify the consumer’s journey and add value across industries and functions.

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Challenges in adopting a Design Thinking Process:

To adopt a Design Thinking approach leaders will not just have to do a cognitive shift but also meet business challenges. Some of the business challenges that companies face while aligning their businesses for a design culture are:

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  1. Short-term thinking

Most times Design Thinking is applied only while developing a particular product or in the execution of a particular project. However, Design Thinking should be inbuilt in the longterm strategy of the organization. Organizations will have to envision the entire ecosystem around the consumer and apply principles of Design Thinking to every phase. One example of such an approach is, Paytm which started as a mobile recharge platform to one of the largest mobile payments platform with over 7 million merchants and 300 million registered wallet users, and now a major e-commerce platform. Paytm reached at this point by envisioning the entire ecosystem and possibilities around consumers that their platform could solve, and then created a delightful solution around it.

2. Challenges of scale and pace

Digitization has exploded the number of touchpoints through which businesses interact with consumers. Today enterprises have to interact with their consumers at numerous channels, in a world where the time to respond has come to near zero. It can be a challenging task to apply Design Thinking at every touch point and innovate and engage at a fast rate. Businesses should prioritize the channels and then apply Design Thinking principles to their channels in a phase-wise manner.

3. Building a design culture

In most organization Design Thinking is limited to product teams. Either there is a team of designers that are rotated across teams or having a designer for every product team. While organizations have to identify their own approach basis their organizational culture, to reap the true benefits of Design Thinking businesses will need to ingrain a Design Thinking approach across every function. For instance, Airbnb has identified a unique approach where every project team at Airbnb has a project manager whose explicit role is to represent the user, not a particular functional group like engineering or design. According to Alex Schleifer, product head at Airbnb

“Conflict is a huge and important part of innovation, this structure creates points where different points of view meet and are either aligned or not.”

4. Designers’ and product stakeholders’ perfectionist block

One of the basic principles of a Design Thinking approach is that it is iterative, agile and data and analytics-driven. However, in most cases, product stakeholders get stuck with wanting to launch a ‘perfect’ product. And, that is one of the major roadblocks in the Design Thinking approach. To adopt a Design Thinking approach enterprises should be prepared to launch a Minimum Viable Product and then iterate it basis consumer feedback and data and then scale further in a step-by-step manner.

In conclusion:

According to the DMI index design-led organizations outperform S&P by a whopping 228%. Most innovative organizations of the world like Apple, IKEA, Coca Cola, etc. realize this and that is why design-thinking is at the heart of their innovation strategies.

Technology, business environment and changing consumer preference is opening doors for new competitors as well as newer opportunities. To succeed companies will need to innovate faster and evolve with changing consumer preferences. Adopting a Design Thinking approach has become more critical than ever before for succeeding and staying competitive in today’s digital world.

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End-to-end digital experiences for enterprises, including design & engineering for web, mobile and wearables.

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