Design Thinking: How to really know what your customers want!

Do you have an idea for a business idea or product but aren’t sure if customers will really buy and use it?  Accelerator programs, like TAQADAM, employ the Design Thinking model to find out the answer to this critical question.  Focusing on users’ needs and listening to your target audience are key concepts in the first stage of the Design Thinking Model.

What is the Design Thinking Empathize stage?

TAQADAM Accelerator program teaches the Design Thinking process that is iterative, flexible and focused on collaboration between designers and users.   The program focuses on realizing innovative ideas based on how real consumers think, feel and behave.  The Empathize stage is the first step in the Design Thinking innovative process and is focused on understanding the real customer experience.  The phase entails gathering data from the human users involved to understand their needs.  The Empathize process requires designers to put their own assumptions aside while they observe and learn from consumers.  Three questions should dominate the activities associated with the Empathize phase: What? How? Why?  Recording What happened, How the person is doing what they’re doing and Why, or what motivations, they have for doing it.  The goal is to gain insights into the user’s needs, how they think, feel and behave.  To understand what customer need and want from products.

Empathize Phase Tools

Tools that are useful for the Empathize stage of the Design Thinking process will be introduced and facilitated as part of the TAQADAM Accelerator program.  Here are a few Empathize mechanisms that are used to generate Empathic understanding of end-users unexpressed needs.

Observation is about leaving one’s assumptions behind and genuinely observing real consumers.  Noting what they are doing, how they are doing it and trying to understand why they are doing what they are doing.  Innovation teams may choose a camera based study.  This method allows the target audience to be observed either in a natural setting or at a session with the design team.

Interviewing is an interactive tool that facilities dialogue between the end-user and innovator.  Questions should be focused on asking the customer about their product desires, needs and preferences.

Want to really get to know your customer?  Then try walking through their shoes.  To illustrate, the Bodystorm technique is a simple example of how to understand the needs of a blind person, by spending the day being “blind”.  Replicating the real person’s experience will open up learning and understanding of their needs by being in “their shoes” for a day.

 Ready to Empathize with your customer to create an innovative solution?  Then join our next TAQADAM cohort! 

This series is part of our focus on Design Thinking, find all the articles in the series below:

Part 1: Why your company needs Design Thinking!

Part 2 – Empathize: How to know what your customers really want

Part 3 – Define: Can you define your startup in one sentence?

Part 4 – Ideate: What makes a good startup idea?

Paty 5 – Prototype: Why and how to use prototypes