What Consumers Want: 4 Principles of Design Thinking

Participants in the breakout session presented by Peer Insight had the opportunity to focus on a dominate theme of the Next Generation of Government Training Summit: using creativity to improve job performance.

Natalie Foley and Jessica Dugan from Peer Insight, a consulting firm that creates impact and growth using design thinking, explained that while design thinking is often treated as a magical and mysterious tool, it can be used as a key part of the problem solving process.

Design thinking allows us to understand what makes a happy user, a key ingredient in achieving greater impact and growth for the service provider.

Since innovation is becoming the predominate path to growth, Foley said, design thinking, a tool optimized for innovation, can spur this growth.

A problem solving method obsessed with the user, design thinking combines three essential elements needed for impact and growth – consumer desirability (do users want it?), economic viability (does it scale profitably?), and technical feasibility (can we deliver it reliably?) – in a four-pronged process.

1. Empathize

Ask what is. This stage allows the service provider to absorb information, listening to the consumer to gain insight into his or her desires. Service providers must accept the consumer’s reality as truth.

2. Visualize

Ask what if. At this stage, every idea should be considered. Explore and brainstorm, using drawing tools if you can.

3. Co-create

Ask what wows. Build, refine, and evaluate, considering which idea will really work. Let the consumer tell you if the idea will work. The consumer will tell you if you are on target or not.

4. Iterate

Ask what works. Experiment, test, and implement. Ask for feedback and adapt if necessary.

In order to implement design thinking in customer service, survey providers can use a journey map, a tool that tracks a consumer’s journey through an experience. By using a journey map, service providers can shift the frame from that of the provider to that of the user.

In creating a journey map, focus on what the customer is trying to do. Interact with the consumer in a natural setting to allow for open-ended questions and answers. Start with the standard steps of the journey and then try to gain insight into the emotions associated with the journey.

Journey maps allow service providers to see the consumer as a person with hopes and challenges, not merely as a data point, resulting in greater insight and ultimately greater impact and growth for the service provider.

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Kim Truong

These are also great tips for engaging citizens in public service delivery and creating a more open government.