AGE OF CUSTOMERDesigning human experience

The emphasis on just designing service features has been superseded. Clients and designers now have to consider the whole customer experience across the service lifecycle. They have to understand the customer lifecycle from the “I need a new bank/accountant/whatever” moment  through to recommending the service. Clients are now fully aware that just designing a good product or service is not enough.

Clients and designers now need to think about and design the customer experience. This has lead to a lot of hype about customer experience and how design can be used to enhance it.

IDEO has developed customer experience models as has the Stanford dSchool along with many other great thinkers in the design field.

There are many great businesses in Australia that have made a place for themselves in our industry by combining customer experience and design. They design experiences for retail customers and library services to rural health user experiences. These businesses have recognised that design is moving away from designing for information into the customer experience realm  – the move from the Information age to the Customer age.

Past experiences

One of the major factors these businesses have grasped is that customer experience is made up of a vast number of human interactions, many of which the designer has no control over. These are the experiences the customer has had in the past.

The customers brings their experiences to the new situation and they can greatly change the response they have to the clients’ product or service.

These experiences may have been positive, neutral or negative. A childhood experience may totally overwhelm a designed experience for a hospital visit no matter how well considered and designed the experience. A previous recent experience can also change the way a customer will approach a new experience, no matter how well designed.

Because of these human factors there are no set levers that can be pulled to manipulate customer experience. This makes customer experience design less of a science and more of an art.

To back up this art designers are turning to Empathy mapping and Customer Journey mapping to get an understanding of the individual human factors so they can design an experience that is adaptable for a wide range of pre-existing experiences.

Take away

Design like many other professions needs life-long professional development. Experience design is one of the areas of rapid growth that needs professional development for many designers. Begin by learning Empathy mapping to understand a customers past experiences and then learn Customer journey mapping to understand their current experience.

Greg Branson


Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.

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Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.