If you want to find design thinking champions in your organization, try the marketing department. Marketers and brand managers have long understood the value of being customer-centric, which is at the heart of design thinking method. Having a customer-centric marketing strategy and “optimizing the customer experience” is usually at the top of their to-do list, so they are most likely to get excited when someone starts talking about these principals.
However don’t assume they already have the design thinking training or methods to make them work.
Marketing Week’s Future Marketing Organization study, found that while 42 percent of marketers believe a customer-centric model is the right way to organize marketing, less than six percent actually had such models in place. Far more marketers (37 percent) said their department was focused on the individual products or brands rather than the customer experience. As a result, these seemingly customer-driven professionals rated their ability to optimize customer experiences at a mere 3.1 out of 5.
This disconnect is almost certainly costing them customers. One recent study found companies that adopt a customer focus improve customer retention by 42 percent, and increase customer satisfaction by 33 percent.
So what can marketing teams do close this gap between wanting to be customer-centric and actually meeting their needs? Use design thinking or a human-centered approach to address customer needs.
We may be biased in believing that design thinking can help companies improve their business results, but in this case, the argument is clear. Design thinking is all about empathizing with customer needs, putting them at the heart of every decision, and relying on their feedback to guide product and service delivery. In other words, design thinking can give marketers the framework they need to translate their vision of customer-centricity into reality.
Design Thinking Can be Marketing’s Superhero
Design thinking training will help a marketing team understand how to capture and integrate that vital customer feedback into their decision making process. Hint: it requires more than reviewing a handful of customer surveys or NPS scores.
It will also provide them with a roadmap for transforming that feedback into innovative solutions that surprise and delight their customers, and keep them coming back.
Taking this important step of actually involving customers in the feedback process may feel unfamiliar at first, even for a profession that claims to be fanatics about good customer experience. But the teams that can embrace this approach, will be able to make the transition from wanting customer-centricity to delivering it.
Fortunately marketers as a rule already have the desire to focus on customers, and they see the connection between customer-centricity and business results, which can be one of the toughest challenges of selling design thinking to a new audience. All marketers need now is a little structure, training, and permission to align their ambition with business reality.
Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.