Could better design be the answer to successful transformation?

Jan 31, 2019

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by Tom Adams Experience Centre Leader, PwC UK

Email +44 (0)7889 654659

Our 2018 Digital IQ survey reveals that 74% of ‘modernizers’ see customer experience as critical to digital transformation, but only 39% say their digital investments are creating better customer experiences.

Could better design fill this gap?

Transformation has profound implications for most companies: not least a complete change in the employee and customer experience. It means fundamentally rethinking how everything looks, feels and works, inside and outside an organisation. It’s not called ‘transformation’ for nothing.

Unfortunately, as Nudge (a book about improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness, written by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein) famously established, human beings don’t always go along with our plans to change their behaviour - even when the change is good for them. So if we don’t think about human experience during a transformation, we risk updating systems and processes that nobody wants to adopt.

At PwC’s Experience Centre (EC) we believe design is a vital ingredient in avoiding this problem.

Why? Because design is a method of problem solving that seeks to make things work better for the people that use them.

For an employee, this might mean they genuinely want to use the new software they are given to do their job, and are more effective when they do.

For a customer, it might mean products and services created or improved around their real needs and behaviours, so they are more effective and enjoyable. Or something that is clearly differentiated from emerging competition.

We know design-driven businesses enjoy stronger long-term business performance (the Design Value Index shows that design-driven businesses outperformed the S&P 500 by 211% over the 10 years to 2015). Customers are prepared to pay a premium for better experiences and are more loyal to the brands that provide them. Bad experiences drive customers away. Full stop. We also know that a company’s employees have a significant impact on the overall customer experience.

So design matters to businesses, their people and their customers.

This is why we think it’s vital to combine design thinking and design doing to help client organisations address their transformation challenges.

By ‘design thinking’, we mean an iterative method of problem solving that builds ideas on a human insight and brings them to life through prototypes that help us to test and learn what really works.

This could be for a new business or operating model, a strategy or vision for an executive group, or the minimum viable product for a customer relationship management platform roll out in a front office transformation. In The Frontier, a new working space in our More London office (powered by technology, and digital facilitation and collaboration tools), our consulting team at The Difference apply a powerful method driven by large scale co-creation events to accelerate this – one that helps to combine insight and action across business, experience and technology.

By ‘design doing’, we mean deciding how things look, feel and work. This breaks down into three main areas: designing new user experiences; designing new products and services; and brand-led design for the powerful technology platforms at the heart of transformation.

So our designers work alongside clients, consumers, business and technology consultants to visualise and build everything from a website to an app or a physical environment that changes the customer or employee experience to address a business goal.

This could be a new mobile shopping service for a retailer that increases omnichannel sales, an experience that improves healthcare workers’ access to diagnostic information, a branded platform that supports real-time customer care or a service that helps people to manage their finances in new ways.

In other words, if a person is interacting with a technology of any kind – through a screen, voice control or both – we make sure it looks, feels, sounds and works beautifully. Because we know that people are more likely to use it when it does.

Business transformation is a human endeavour. It is about people in organisations changing the way they think, work and engage with colleagues, partners, customers and consumers. It’s about delivering improved, differentiated customer products, services and experiences – often powered by a complex combination of human interaction and technology.

At the EC, we add this design approach to business and technology understanding to make sure that human needs and experience are built into the change from the start.

By doing that, we know we can accelerate the change and deliver the right transformation by design.

by Tom Adams Experience Centre Leader, PwC UK

Email +44 (0)7889 654659