In today’s competitive and crowded marketplace, companies without empathy for what its consumers crave and that forgo an evolutionary design thinking approach to inform the development of products, services and overall experiences are falling two steps behind. According to an infographic from Adweek, design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P Index by a massive 219% in the past 10 years, and nearly half of all design leaders say that creating an emotional bond with customers based on what they feel, think and need is a defining characteristic of an advanced, comprehensive design thinking approach.
With design on the mind, companies can begin creating valuable, addictive customer experiences that foster loyalty and establish a name for their brand and how they do business. Being cognizant of the customer experience allows a company to mold a brand around the desire of its customers, taking into account their behaviors and emotions in order to keep them happy and satisfied. The important bond between design thinking and customer experience hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. That same Adweek infographic highlights that 91% of design-led companies list design as a critical component of their CX strategies and nearly 80% have a process in place for CX innovation.
Still, even companies that have embraced design thinking and CX should start considering an update to their methodology. Allow us to introduce a fresher, more holistic approach: Experience Thinking (XT). Experience thinking seeks to examine and inform a brand experience in totality, rather than just one pit stop within the customer journey. Where design thinking is great at honing in on individual contexts and how customers behave, think and interact in those, XT stretches that out to encompass the entire relationship between a brand and its customers, just like building out a great customer experience (CX) attempts to.
Brands employing XT can push design thinking to new heights by developing or bolstering an entire brand identity that hits every touchpoint in a customer’s journey. Strategically implemented, this allows companies to create much more diverse offerings through the lens of a solidified and engaging brand experience. This typically means that the experience casts a web far outside of just the product or service a brand offers; rather, a sticky brand that uses an XT approach can offer a more encompassing value proposition that enhances the lifestyle of their customers in some way, shape or form.
Take Nespresso, for example. The company began to think outside-of-the-box when it noticed the extreme waste created by its coffee pods. Identifying this as a potential pain point for some of its more environmentally-conscious customers and no doubt realizing just how important corporate social responsibility has become in today’s day and age, Nespresso turned to experience thinking to come up with a solution that would overhaul its brand as a whole. What resulted was the launch of a recycling program for its pods, which has been a runaway success for the brand. Customers can now immerse themselves into Nespresso’s products guilt-free knowing that their overall brand experience includes an environmentally-friendly component for pod disposal. In embracing XT, Nespresso strengthened its brand while staying on the positive end of consumer sentiment.
That, in essence, is what experience thinking is all about: understanding the social and emotional outcomes of what a brand does and heavily considering those when designing and planning out all the possible customer touchpoints in order to deliver a dynamic, standout brand experience. Today, most businesses want a branded line of products or a trademark experience to set them apart from the rest of the competition. This is how companies stake a claim in the marketplace and cultivate a loyal, devoted customer base. Prioritizing XT can help businesses accomplish this differentiation so that they can confidently deliver an experience that their customers have come to expect and appreciate. To achieve market leadership and dominance, a brand simply has to start thinking experientially.