It is no mystery that there is a very big shift in customer behavior and this phenomenon impacts every business in every industry. Customers are increasingly more demanding, wanting companies to be where they are, to communicate when they want it and how they want it. All of this triggered by the internet and the convenience of digitization. Being relevant for customers has never been more challenging and forces companies to become really customer-centric. Follow our 10-step roadmap to unique customer – centric value propositions based on the Design Thinking* phases.
Step 1: Start from your business challenge and map the current situation
In this phase you’ll have to clarify the problem statement, soak in and look at the overall market: its challenges and opportunities; always taking in consideration the customers’ segmentation.
Investigate what related work has been done before, studies published on relevant topics, look at the competition and markets different than yours, best-in-class examples, inspirational cases, don’t forget analyzing new demographic and social behavior.
Step 2: Empathize with your customer and collect information to identify their real needs
At this stage you will need to get the data. The objective here is to gain deep understanding about the customer. To gather qualitative data the most common practices used are focus groups, field studies, customer immersions, 1:1 interviews (physical, online, telephonically). You will need a representative pool of personas (target groups), as well as possible influencers (“personas” that might influence the decision making) if relevant.
Step 3: Synthetize all insights and define the key customer’s problem to solve
Analyze all the information gathered from the interviews. Synthesize customer insights and formulate a well-defined problem definition.
Separate the Customers’ needs from their barriers, triggers as well as potential pain points. Group the information by persona. Go back to your research and look for existing cases that tackle those customer needs, look for inspiration.
Step 4: Generate ideas and develop value propositions in a co-creative and multi-disciplinary setting
Now is the time to organize co-creation workshops to generate ideas and new concepts that will be the foundations of new customer-centric value propositions.
Start by giving an overview about all the learnings so far, followed by your customers insights. Everybody in the room should be wearing “the customer’s hat”.
Ideate benefits and reasons to believe that tackles the customers’ pain points and heroes triggers. Convert these into solid value propositions.
Step 5: Assess your ideas to ensure consistency in your decision process
Validation is key to ensure that the value propositions are actually feasible. Try pass the sanity check by answering the following questions: is the value proposition unique? Relevant? Does it fit the company’s equity? Is it sustainable?
If the answer is “yes” to all questions, but you have still several value propositions on the table and need to focus only on a few you could use a second feasibility assessment. Use two axes: is it relevant to niche (few people) or mass (lot of people)?; is it easy or complex to implement? Quadrant mass + easy to implement are considered quick wins and should be pursued. Quadrant mass + complex to implement is where you should invest as it is appealing to a large number of people and due to the complexity it will be more difficult to be copied by competitors.
Step 6: Develop a business model canvas for every value proposition that has passed the sanity check
This step will give you the opportunity to think more thoroughly on the roles, channels, processes and investment needed. Start by writing out: the initial customer’s problem, the solution, the value proposition, the unfair advantage, the customer’s segments; then think about the channels, the revenue streams, the cost structure and the key metrics for a successful delivery.
Step 7: Use storyboarding to develop a prototype that can be tested with customers. Gain insights to improve your value propositions
For each Business Model Canvas you will need to develop a prototype of the product or service. Start with a story line, write down the entire journey as how a customer would experience it. Then visualize this storyline through storyboards. The objective is to make customers understand easily the product or service.
Interview a new pool of customers (taking into consideration the personas), it is better to have new interviewees in order to avoid bias.
Step 8: Fine-tune the value propositions with the gathered insights and develop the final product or service
Fine- tune the prototypes with the new information gathered for your last interviews. If needed, go back to the start, cross check to see if the needs that were discovered initially are still covered. Now that the Value Proposition is much more tangible it is a good idea to go back to desk research: find similar offerings, best practices, inspiration.
Step 9: Develop the customer’s journey from the customer’s perspective and define the go-2-market strategy
Your customer (centric) journey will help you identify the key touchpoints were you will have to be present in order to make the customer aware and then decide for your product or service.
The go-2-market strategy provides a strategic action plan that clarifies how to reach your personas and better compete in your marketplace. It is a combination of key elements that drive your business such as sales, marketing, distribution, pricing, etc.
Step 10: Track, learn, change…. Repeat!
This key for a successful customer centric product or service. It is not something static, it evolves with the customer in a fast paced journey and you have to be ready, you have to be agile.
Once you know your customers well enough, you can use that knowledge to personalize every interaction. Customers these days have more power and choice than ever before. Thus, you are responsible for understanding and acknowledging their needs. If you make sure their interaction with your company is smooth, pleasant and continuously improving, you will drive brand loyalty.
Don’t forget this 10-step roadmap is developed based on Design Thinking which has as objective to put the customer in the center of your thinking, it is driven by co-creation and therefore increases the engagement of all stakeholders, and it is holistic as it keeps in mind the full process and customer journey/experience.
Design Thinking: process and methods manual by Robert Curedale