Customer Experience

Putting Customer Experience First with IBM Design Thinking

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In a crowded competitive landscape what really sets your products and services apart from the other brands?   Customer experience.  Experience is the emerging tactical and strategic imperative that offers brands sustained growth and differentiation.

Though brands can find it hard to really understand what experience their customers want, in fact we could even go as far as to say that brands often don’t understand the customers themselves.    But Trevor! We have customer personas, I hear you say.  That is a great start but have you ever validated them, are they actual real customers or just plain stereotypes, do they tell you what your customers are thinking or feeling what motivates them?

To offer really great customer experience you really need to know you customers and this is where the IBM Design Thinking framework comes into play as a way of really getting to understand your customers and their problems.

What is IBM Design Thinking?

Based on the ideas of Understand, Explore, Prototype and Evaluate codified by IDEO co-founders David Kelley and Bill Moggridge and grounded in empathy, prototyping and radical collaboration IBM Design Thinking offers new ways to think about problems and their solutions by putting the user at the center.   Those of you familiar with Design Thinking will notice straight away that IBM Design Thinking is slightly different, we added a few concepts to the framework which we call Sponsored Users, Hills and Playbacks.

IBM Design Thinking



Understand  – We start by deeply understanding users by carrying out user research which includes techniques like ethnographic observation and interviews. These provide the input to personas and the summary of the users’ as-is experience scenarios and the identification of pain points that they experience.

Explore – We then explore many widely divergent and creative to-be opportunities.

Prototype – We then prototype the designs often initially using paper prototypes for speed.

Evaluate – We then evaluate the prototypes with users and based on their feedback, we iterate on the designs if needed.

Hills – Focus your project on big (but attainable) problems and outcomes for users, not just a list of feature requests

Playbacks – Align your team, stakeholders, and clients around the user value you will deliver, rather than project line items

Sponsor Users – Help you design experiences for real target users, rather than imagined needs

To save me writing more and so you can enjoy a visual story instead of my writing (even though its great of course!) here is a short video taking you through how IBM Design Thinking can help your brand, no matter how big or small.  Check it out!



Thats not all! Check out this in-depth Forrester Case study on IBM Design

Digital Marketing & Innovation Consultant - IBM iX & Mobile

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