Why It Takes Guts To Do Human-Centered Design

The right customer interactions, implemented the right way, don't just happen. Instead, they must be actively designed. This requires learning — and then sticking to — the steps in a human-centered design process. But this approach is not for the faint of heart.

If you want to embrace human-centered design, you have to admit that you don’t know the answers to your problems. At its core, design is a problem-solving process. It takes into account the needs of customers, employees, and stakeholders — and it can be applied to create new (or improved) products, services, and experiences. While that all sounds good, embarking on a problem-solving project implicitly means you don’t have the answers to your current business problems. And in today’s solution-focused business environment, not having an answer can be seen as a weakness.

In fact, we’re so solution-focused that providing answers has become almost a knee-jerk reaction. Here’s a quick experiment: Ask the next colleague you see how to solve a particular problem, and she’ll likely give you an answer or two — maybe even three. It’s very unlikely that your colleague will pause for a moment, reflect on your question, and proceed to ask you more about the challenge you’re facing. But that’s exactly the approach that human-centered design takes.

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Outside In Holiday Promotion — Signed Books For Your Clients Or Employees

Looking for the perfect gift to show your clients or employees the value of customer experience? How about a copy of Outside In signed by one of the authors? We’ll be happy to oblige, as long as you have a mailing address in the US. You’ll buy the books, and we’ll do the signing and pay to ship them back to you. Here’s how it works:

  1. Contact Forrester’s Megan Reinhart (mreinhart@forrester.com) to let us know you’re participating and how many books you’d like us to sign.
  2. Go to the Outside In page on 800CEOREAD.com. Buy enough books for your clients and employees and have them shipped to us. 800CEOREAD.com offers books at 43% off, $14.25 each, for bulk orders. Ship to either address, depending on the author you’d like to have sign the books:
    Harley Manning
    60 Acorn Park Drive
    Cambridge, MA 02140
    Kerry Bodine
    150 Spear Street, Suite 1100
    San Francisco, CA 94105
  3. When we receive the books, the author will sign them (Harley in Cambridge or me in San Francisco). We’ll also include a short message of your choosing, as long as it’s something we’re comfortable with.
  4. We’ll ship them back to you at our expense.
  5. You can distribute them to your clients or employees however you’d prefer — by mail or in person.

Happy holidays!

Forrester’s 2013 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Survey

Calling all customer experience professionals:

  • Do you know about your company’s customer experience priorities and initiatives (or lack thereof)?
  • Do you know what your company’s customer experience plans are for 2013?
  • Do you know how your company’s customer experience resources are structured?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, please help us out by completing Forrester’s 2013 global customer experience benchmarking survey. The info you provide will help shape reports to be written in the new year by Megan Burns and yours truly. And to thank you for your time, we’ll send you a copy of any reports that we publish with this data.

Thanks so much!

(Agency folks and consultants, sorry — this survey isn't for you.)

Designing The Employee Experience

In the dozens of conversations I have each week with companies charting their paths to a better customer experience, the role of employees often comes up. We talk about the importance of employee empowerment and how critical it is that employees feel free to make decisions that are right for customers. We discuss tactics like hiring, socialization, and rewards that can help organizations build corporate cultures that reinforce customer-centric attitudes and behaviors.

But rarely — if ever — does anyone ask me about actually designing the employee experience.

As I’ve said before: Great customer experiences don’t happen by accident — they have to be actively designed. In other words, you need to follow a structured process to ensure that you’re meeting customers’ needs and enabling interactions that are easy and enjoyable for them. While the discipline of design hasn’t yet become mainstream in the business world, companies around the globe — E.On Energy, Fidelity Investments, Mayo Clinic, and Virgin Mobile Australia, just to name a few — have started to embrace the value of design in customer experience. They’re conducting ethnographic research to uncover customers’ hidden needs. They’re bringing customers in for co-creation sessions to develop new experience ideas. They’re iteratively prototyping and testing the proposed solutions.

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