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Design thinking: focus on your customers

How can design help?

When you think of a designer, you might imagine a visual artist, or an architect.

But design methods underpin much of what we do in the business world too. While most of us may not be designers by title, thinking like a designer is a skill anyone can develop.

“Design thinking puts people first,” says Jo’Anne Langham, UQ Business School, and former Senior Director Research and Intelligence for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

“It’s about considering the needs, values, and sentiment of your customers and stakeholders, and building or adapting your products and services to align with these expectations,” she says.

Jo’Anne works with Associate Professor Neil Paulsen, Lecturer in Leadership and Management, UQ Business School, consulting to businesses on service design. The pair recently delivered a report for the Australian Tax Forum, which introduces a customer-focused approach to the design and evaluation of public services, and taxation in particular. The report reiterates that the customer must be at the centre of the experience in order to achieve exceptional service.

 

Design thinking in action

Notable design firms, such as IDEO, are championing design thinking to create innovative products, services, and experiences for businesses. 

For example, IDEO helped create new health and wellness products based on cultural beliefs in China, helping a Chinese manufacturer become part of the healthy living movement.

IDEO also worked with Umpqua bank to revitalise its brand, leveraging its strengths and improving its employee and customer engagement. The process resulted in a range of successful outcomes, including deepened relationships through internal workplace initiatives, and a banking app focused on how customers – not the bank itself - thinks about spending and saving.

Design thinking is applicable across a range of industries – from public service, to healthcare, or finance. By seeking to better understand your consumers and stakeholders you can find new ways to develop services and products that enhance their experiences and meet their needs.

UQ Business School Executive Education will deliver the Design Thinking for Business masterclass on 7 - 8 August 2017. To register or learn more, click here.

Participants learning about design thinking.
"It’s about considering the needs, values, and sentiment of your customers and stakeholders, and building or adapting your products and services to align with these expectations."
Jo'Anne Langham, UQ Business School