Design is about Love and Empathy towards the customer

The Design RoundTable last week lead by Deepa Bachu and Rajan, was not what I expected. By and large, design to me was either a part of an application (UI / UX) or a concept which i did’nt know much about. But, when we went in depth with Deepa, I realized that design is an integral part of who we are and what we see around us.

Through detailed discussions, we were made to think about what design is and what design meant to individuals, communities, startups as well as our customers.  The first task started with a a simple question, what is design? One can come up with several ways to describe it and the audience described it as – Design is something that solves a need, brings convenience, humanizes products (i.e. bringing human touch to products), explores empathy, understands customers and is about continuous learning.  What stood out for me was that design is all about Love and passion in order to bring out the best products/services to address a customer need, in a manner that creates value with ease and convenience. This would enable the users to be at ease and fall in love with what it represents. If a design is thought through with love, compassion and empathy, the user’s journey and experience improves.

The first task in the workshop was to work in a group and explore design features (good vs. bad designs) both within and outside a room. This enabled us to look at things from a design lens. The group came up with very interesting insights of how people dry their clothes in modern buildings differently from those who dry clothes on their balconies or how badly the electric poles in India are designed or how cobbled streets are an interesting design element than traditional tar roads.

IMG_20160409_145508This experience made us understand and be aware of the small and subtle difference between good and bad design. I was able to realize and conclude how crucial it is to be empathetic to customer needs and when, where and how they experience a product / service. Hence, it is essential to understand things from the customer’s perspective which eventually helps us improve the utility of the product and services that one offers.

This applies to all our products and services. We are all trying to build a product around enhancing the customer experience and thinking through each aspect from the users point of view is crucial. How does a user discover your product or hears about you? How do you ease the process of sign ups? How important is the design of your website or application? What does the product do for the customers and what are the benefits of it? These are just few examples of how we can think from the customer’s point of view. By allowing ourselves to think from the customer’s perspective, we are enabling us to re-imagine the product and user’s journey through various channels to engage and enrich with the user.

Another interesting insight was around humanizing products as consumers are humans. Adding a human touch to design can make an experience great. For example, addressing consumers in emails by their names or to have a real person to sign off at the end of an email.

There were many other aspects we covered in our conversations. We discussed the importance of elegance in design and a belief that “UI without UX is Superficial”. We also discussed the importance of creating that WOW factor or customer delight in making customers your brand ambassadors. For creating customer delight, one has to first answer what benefits a customer will get and how one can create customer experience through positive emotion. The combination of these simple three stage processes will help us to think through the various customer delight experiences that we can design.

Another tool that Deepa spoke about and is quite helpful is an Empathy Map. It is a 2×2 matrix to understand the journey of a customer. Four questions need to be asked.

1) What do customers say about your product,

2) What do they do while experiencing your product,

3) What are they thinking while they use the service and

4) How do they feel over all.

This is an experiment which should be done periodically with various sets of customers which can make each member of the team sensitive to the customer journey. An interesting point learnt is that every time we have an insight on one of the four touch points — Say, do, think and feel , we could use this as a starting point. For example, while booking a flight online, how is the customer journey when they first login, are they looking for the cheapest price if so what do they say about that experience, what do they think while looking for the cheapest price (will they get the cheapest price on this website and will the price change later) and what do they feel (lets pay it by it before it changes).

By following some basic templates we can rethink our products and imagine the customer journey in a manner that we could live it on a daily basis. The love / empathy towards our customers, which results in benefits for the customer and eventually helps in designing the WOW (delight) moments are what makes a lasting impact and creates a bond between the brand and the customers.

Hence, design is one of the main pillars of building a successful product and I hope we all can make design an integral part of the organization. Our thinking should bring compassion and love to customers through Design.

Thank you Deepa and Rajan for wonderful session on Design thinking

Deepa is a design and product leader who most recently worked at Intuit as the Director of Design and Product Management. Deepa’s passion is to transform customers’ lives by creating products that solve their biggest unmet needs.

Deepa has 20 years of experience in the Tech industry where she has played a variety of roles across Product Development, Experience Design, Product Management and General Manager. Deepa’s experience has given her expertise in creating and taking global products for both emerging markets as well as developed markets across multiple domains.
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Guest post by Gaurang Sanghvi

In conversation with the Founder of RippleHire – Sudarsan Ravi, participant – @Intech50 2014.

RippleHire is a SaaS-based employee referral product.

Tell us about RippleHire – your journey so far…

We help companies automate their talent sourcing by leveraging their employee pool.

We spent our first year working with the ecosystem getting feedback and crowdsourcing problems on hiring. Only then did we begin our sales process and that too with the top global brands, so that we get the right folks to get the product experience and results right.

The journey has been challenging and exhilarating – full of the regular highs and lows that every entrepreneurial journey has, along with the crazy experiences and insights that come with building a global company.

RippleHireWhat challenges did you face during the course? Any learnings from that? 

It was initially tough for us to go after brands like Adobe, McAfee, Capgemini. Convincing them to be among your initial customers was not easy. People love social proof and we will be eternally grateful to our first set of customers who have co-created this innovation with us and helped provide the social proof.

If I were to do one thing differently, I would focus directly on global customers.

Do you think that getting access to/finding investors is difficult in India? 

I don’t think getting access to investors in India is difficult at all. We have always believed that investment is a by-product of building a good scalable business. Our focus as a team has been about building a product that adds value to our customers (the real proof came through when they paid).

I always recommend startups to not focus on building a business for investors but for customers. Do take the inputs that the investors give you on the space and the approach. Factor that in. However, build the business to add value to customers.

Our approach has meant that we have always received inbound interest from investors. So, I think getting access to investors is definitely easy if you focus on building a good business.

Why did you consider participating in InTech50? 

We wanted to get validation from Indian and Global CIO’s on our concept. It was wonderful to have multiple CIO’s stop by our booth post our presentation and share their hiring challenges.

It was a great way for us to get feedback on RippleHire. Not only that, it helped us bag customers too.

How has getting shortlisted for InTech50 helped you? 

Being recognized as one of the top 50 innovative software companies coming out of India helped us a lot from our sales standpoint. People in India, and globally, take you seriously especially when the validation for the software comes from CIO’s.

We have also grown by 10X in the past year.

Who were the people you connected with as a result of InTech50, and can you give us a few specific examples of what those introductions translated into? 

We were able to get feedback from multiple CIO’s and introductions to prospects like Happiest minds and Ascendum through this platform. Ascendum signed up RippleHire as a customer as well.

What advice would you give to other emerging companies as they plan their scaling up?

Every startup is different and has different challenges when it comes to scaling up. I think it is important to get the following right when it comes to scaling up –

  • Your customer support and product experience should be consistent. Think of a Pizza Hut. As they scale customers, it is important that the Pizza quality stays the same.
  • Scaling well is about putting the processes in place that the experience stays the same. Getting this in place requires thinking of your engineering, sales and support teams in the form of units. Once you get one unit right in your support engine, scaling is about replicating that unit.

One recommendation I would give out to the InTech50 participants this year is that – research the sectors that are of interest for you. Hiring in our case is sector agnostic. It would have helped us if we had picked three sectors and focused on attendees from that space.