There's an old maxim that says it's pointless spending time designing a bridge if you're not going to spend time thinking about the people who use it. In the consumer product world, human-centric design has been at the heart of some ground-breaking ideas for decades.
Oral-B is one of the most famous examples when they launched their new children's toothbrush. Their designers watched how kids brushed and realized they have lower dexterity and use their fists to hold the toothbrush rather than their fingers due to low grip strength – so they made toothbrushes with a big, fat, squishy grip that was easier for them to hold onto. This tiny discovery led to Oral-B having the best-selling kid's toothbrush in the world for 18 months.
In recent years, human-centric design graduated out of the product world and has been applied to improve sales and management structures and processes. And now it's starting to influence customer service and customer experience, thanks to software innovation and a human-centric focus. Great customer service involves empathy, choice, and personalized experiences. In fact, it's completely illogical that customer service has ever been divorced from the human-centric view in the first place (but that's a whole other article).
Many of today's leading organizations are putting much more planning, thought, and resources into delivering a better overall customer experience. Recent Gartner research even suggests that nearly nine out of ten companies are planning to differentiate themselves from competitors primarily through service over the next few years.
A truly human-centric design approach forces you to empathize with your customers, putting yourself in their shoes to learn how they feel about interacting with your brand and acting accordingly.
So how can you apply this to your own organization? Below are four areas you should be looking at with regards to your current customer service platform.
- Look at your customer journey mapping – Do you have a good understanding of how customers go from lead to a customer to receiving a great service experience and becoming a repeat customer?
- Take a fresh look at your front office actions – How does your brand and your service agents engage with your customers? Are certain channels more popular? And what sort of experiences are provided through your front office actions. For example, we've all dealt with frustrating Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone systems that force us to interact with a computer system through voice or touch-tone dialing. Look at how your IVR behaves, how easy it is to exit, and how to make it more human-centric?
- Look at your back-office actions – These are all the actions that are not visible to customers. For example, refunds are typically not processed by agents but rather finance or back-office processes. If they are not seamlessly integrated with your customer service platform, the then resulting experience will be disjointed.
- Examine your customer service processes – Are they set up in a human-friendly way? For example, Swedish Fintech company Klarna has done exactly that. With 80 million customers across 17 countries, if a customer has a payment or transaction issue, they are understandably anxious for quick answers and resolutions.
By adding Freshworks Messaging, Klarna teams can meet the aggressive First Response SLAs of 60 seconds, taking conversations to the right agent immediately, greeting them with context, and focusing on customers that need immediate attention. Before Freshdesk Messaging, chat as a channel accounted for only 20% of service volumes with Phone support accounting for 63%. Now, 66% of Klarna's customers turn to chat for support, bringing down phone support's tally to 32%.
When you start to break down the service processes and put yourself on the receiving end of your own service through empathy and understanding, you can quickly see the power of human-centric service.
By the way, at Freshworks, we don't endorse ripping everything out and replacing it with our software. There are some very easy add-ons that will dramatically and almost instantly add value to your existing platform. (We have 1,500 pre-existing open APIs that help customers do that).
We believe in coexistence with our software. Where do you already have good capabilities and where do you want to innovate without replacing everything? Our solutions can easily co-exist with existing CRM applications or a back-office order management solution and create a unified and personalized customer view for your agents.
The role of human-centric design in service is only in its infancy and will accelerate over the coming years. With so much competition in today's global marketplace, a great customer experience is one of the best opportunities for an organization to stand out from the crowd.