The need for a product or service to offer a fully realised customer experience is growing. Customer expectations are rising and becoming more demanding than have been before, and product and service designers need to be able to take customer expectations into account. Modern technology and innovation are driving change and pushing businesses to work harder and faster to keep up with what their customers want. Products, services, and environments are becoming closer together to meet customer demands. Customer-centric strategies are being reshaped in different ways, so that customer experiences are more rounded and complete. Customer experience is increasingly design-led, which helps businesses to be more competitive.

There are several ways that companies are transforming by bringing different product elements together, expanding their usual approach, and reshaping their products and services to put the customer experience first. For example, some traditional product companies have started to put more focus on providing a service and a long-term customer experience, rather than just selling individual products to their customers. One example of this is the many software providers which have begun to sell software as a service (SaaS). Software can be a growing and changing service, which updates all the time, instead of a singular product that will eventually be out of date.

On the opposite side of the coin, service companies are beginning to offer physical products as part of their customer experience. This can be seen with smart home assistants and other connected devices, which can be used to access services for Amazon, Google, or other associated brands. Another example is insurance companies using connected devices in cars to set prices based on how safely their customers drive. Amazon’s Dash buttons make it easy for customers to order new products at the click of a button. Smart devices open up opportunities to connect people more, particularly when it comes to online services.

Customer environments are also becoming a priority for some companies. They are used to help grow the connection between the product and the customer and can be particularly useful for online brands. Many online businesses are working on creating a physical presence that allows them to connect to their customers in the offline world using physical stores or showrooms, pop-up stores and stalls or environments where customers can connect to receive customer service in person, such as the Apple Genius Bar. With a lot of business moving online, many companies are recognising that customers are often in need of a closer connection.

How Companies Are Creating Design-led Customer Experiences

There are a number of factors for companies to consider when creating design-led customer experiences for their products and services.

One essential thing for companies to keep in mind is the needs and opinions of their customers. It’s important to start innovating by thinking about what the customer wants and what their perspective is. Understanding the primary pain points that customers have within the customer experience, before deciding what the solutions used should be, is vital for the process. Companies need to ask themselves about what their customers really want and need, and what experiences their aspire to. They need to think about what results their customers are looking for. It’s important to get a foundation of knowledge about what customers think about the current product, service, or experience on offer, and why they have those opinions. Companies need to think about fulfilling customer needs with their innovations.

Another step a company should take when working on a design-led customer experience is to look at other industries. Instead of only looking at what direct competitors are doing, they should be prepared to look outside of their own industry at businesses that are not directly related to their own. It’s possible to look at how things work in unrelated fields and products and apply the principles that they use to completely different products and services. Companies can look at how certain industries solve problems that are tangentially similar to theirs or even how they solve completely different problems with solutions that can be applied to their own customer pain points.

When designing new customer experiences, companies should be sure to consider the future and the innovations that will soon be coming to the market. Looking at what will be happening in the future, whether it’s in the next few months or the next few years, makes it easier to create a product or service that has staying power. It’s not only important to look at how technology might be changing, but also how people and society will be changing in the future. Companies should consider how attitudes might shift, demographics could change, and societal norms could evolve. Thinking about people’s behaviour is as important as considering the technology that might emerge.

Companies that are designing complete customer experiences should ensure that everyone who needs to be involved can have a say in the process. Creating multidisciplinary teams is key and will ensure that all aspects of the customer experience are considered from different angles. Having people with various expertise in different areas of design presents the opportunity for collaboration and well-rounded design. It can also be smart to have a diverse team from different backgrounds in terms of gender, culture, and more. This is useful for identifying different problems and ideas that might not be obvious to everyone.

Prototyping experiences and products is another key way to ensure good design. Testing out ideas can be difficult when it involves creating complicated ecosystems which can often interact with other systems. When lots of products, services, and environments interact with each other, introducing something new is a complex process. However, prototyping makes it possible to see what an idea could look like out in the real world. There are many ways to prototype a new product or service, from creating a model to even creating role-playing scenarios.

Customer experiences are becoming increasingly design-led, and businesses need to take the right approach if they want to design with success. It’s essential to keep looking to the future and keeping up with the competition.