Empathy in design thinking: Why the customer's perspective is key to creating successful products

All businesses can agree that design thinking is a key ingredient in the recipe for successful innovation. It covers the cognitive, strategic, and practical procedures needed to generate ideas and turn them into effective implementations. And it all starts with empathy – the ability to understand the experiences and needs of customers, colleagues, and stakeholders.

Effective design thinking should go through five clear phases; empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Here’s why the role of empathy is so important.

Empathy creates a customer-centric mindset

In addition to appreciating the client’s demands for quality, empathy ensures that customers will actually desire the proposed product. After all, the details are irrelevant if nobody has an interest in the item. The main driving forces of innovation are customer experiences, revenue growth, and product development. Empathy, however, is the catalyst for understanding whether customers actively want and/or need the product in question.

Confirming that there is a desire for the product will additionally help define the target audience while simultaneously supporting the subsequent product development phases. 


Empathy encourages you to give customers a voice

One of the best ways to empathize with clients is to actively listen to their opinions. If you give them the opportunity, customers will tell you exactly what they want from the brand’s future products. Research shows that 65% of high-growth companies plan to collaborate with customers, compared to 54% of other businesses. Plenty of organizations, ranging from Nascar to Starbucks, have launched programs that encourage clients to submit ideas.

Gaining a genuine insight into what customers want is great. Better still, listening to their views will make them feel appreciated and strengthen their brand affinity.


Empathy helps you gain a 360° view of innovations

As shown by ZF, innovation often revolves around customer-centric ideas. However, it’s imperative that you take a full 360° view to understand each driving force of innovation, along with issues like pricing and user experience. Likewise, empathy helps you understand pain points, client concerns, and other elements that could pose potential stumbling blocks. In short, this will ensure that products are designed, developed, and delivered for optimal returns.

In today’s demanding climate, only the products that satisfy customers on every level will succeed. If empathy can help you see every angle, it has to be a key part of the process.


Empathy will reduce the time invested in failed innovations

The stage of empathizing doesn’t only help your employees identify innovations that can succeed. It also identifies failures before time, money, and resources are invested into them. The vast majority of ideas will fail and even successes require an iterative approach. A deeper understanding of client views will ensure that failed ideas can be ruled out far sooner, thus allowing you to invest more time and resources in the best ideas.

In turn, you can expect to see a greater percentage of successful products while the path from concept to completion will be quicker too.

KICKBOX is a comprehensive employee innovation program that helps your employees master empathy and all other aspects of design thinking. To find out more, call the rready team for a full demonstration today.

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