Our UX team uses a few different ways to gather insights about our customers and users. In our business, those are usually different people, and the structure varies per client. We work with multiple teams who have touch points with different personas, and put those insights together along with data, trends, usability testing and our collective experience. But there are always more ways to explore with our resources for a more organic understanding.
When I attended UXPA 2015, I was inspired by Intuit’s Dawn Nidy and Kristy Avgerinos's presentation on their Customer Empathy Initiative. In this program, they assembled their whole company around workshops, events, and insights for them to all see, understand and feel pain points of their customers. This resulted in an organic empathy that no PDF, presentation or motivating email from a CEO can provide.
This was inspiring to an in-house designer who is passionate about creating amazing products that allow parents to spend more time with their family. Further, it would be a dream to have everyone in the company feel the same pain points we all say our users have.
Timing and Planning
Since then, I have been churning this idea in my brain as to how I can scale it to our particular business. I shared some applicable ideas with my team leaders and they were excited about what it could do. We acknowledged there are challenges to overcome to even put something in place, but I personally feel that it is a challenge I’m willing to take on like any other design. And this just feels like the right time.
I am developing our own customer empathy program so that our entire branch of our organization can get together on our common goals no matter our focus areas. I have no idea how it will yet be received, or where it will go. But a framework is a start. Similarly to proposed products and prototypes our team has presented in the past, I will need to take a lot of context into mind and start small. I feel confident that after the first group feels the effects on their work for the better, the business will only improve and so will our program.
Design Leads Business
It become the responsibility of the designer to define problems. Collaboration between product management and design can only be done properly when rallying around common goals. It is way too easy to get caught up with designing around solutions rather than problems early on. Researching data about these customer needs is important, but literally feeling their pain points is a whole new context for decisions. I feel it’s a mistake to leave out all of the other groups for the actual experiences of learning. Whiles Sales, Marketing, Product Management, Customer Service and Engineers all have different touch points for customers and/or users, we often share our findings from different perspectives. This understanding tends to live in silos. If we can find a way to share the experiences, it could open new doors and satisfy not only our customer needs, but relationships for the long term. After all, that’s all business is. People.
Stay open to opportunities and see where you can fill gaps. It will only make you a better designer. I can’t wait to share what’s in store!