Customer experience and design thinking

Customers will remember how products and services make them feel -- so be sure to design for delight.

How can organizations maximize the impact of their customer experience changes? Resources are finite so the focus must be on the changes that have the power to move the customer experience needle.  Incremental improvements and merely fixing what’s broken will not result in breakthrough ideas.  Those ideas come from striving for impactful changes, placing big bets, and designing for delight.  Those ideas are the result of Design Thinking.

The customer experience discipline calls for capturing in a journey map the emotions felt by the customer at each touchpoint in the customer journey.  This is because we know that customers are most likely to remember how brands make them feel over the particulars of a product or service. Design Thinking uses creative strategies to create compelling experiences that customers will remember—and be delighted by.

Shift in mindset

Design Thinking requires a shift in mindset. It offers a thoughtful, structured way to focus on breakthrough non-linear change improvement.  One TedTalk presenter said “We often look at problems through a microscope. What Design Thinking does is to look at <them> through a telescope; to look at the big picture to see how things work from a holistic perspective.”(1)

Design Thinking incorporates divergent thinking, in which a wide variety of ideas are collected from a wide assortment of people, followed by convergent thinking, which focuses on synthesizing proposals and narrowing choices through iterative rounds of testing.

Design thinking steps

Simply put, Design Thinking calls for:

  1. Focusing on the user through data and empathetic observation
  2. Defining the true problem using insights
  3. Ideation without constraints
  4. Experiments and prototypes
  5. Analyzing ideas that were tested
  6. Repeating this iterative process until a solution emerges


The result is greater creativity and better solutions, faster.

This video that explains the principles behind Design Thinking:

This video offers a simple example of Design Thinking in practice:

Customer-centric methodologies

In my company, we are committed to following best practices, and they are not in short supply. We recognize that Design Thinking promotes out-of-the-box creativity that can result in breakthrough ideas. But we also recognize the value of other methodologies such as Enterprise Agility and Lean Startup.  Each has its ardent followers, but the commonalities of these methodologies are more important than the differences.  All focus on putting the customer at the center of all we do, a theme central to our company’s Mission.  They all focus on following a repeatable, logical process that closes the loop and ensures crisp thinking.  All value continuous improvement and place importance on gathering and acting on feedback.

A recent Forester report titled “Integrate Design Thinking Into Agile Development” discusses the importance of applying Design Thinking at the start of the software development lifecycle to ensure that the resulting product offers a compelling user experience. Designers and developers should continue to work in sync throughout the project to “eliminate risky handoffs” and to gain the benefit of “iterative design tweaks and customer feedback.” The combination of Design Thinking and Agile results in “shared practices that blend the customer-centric quality of design with the fast benefits of Agile development.”

In the end, customers won’t care about which methodology is employed. But they will care about how the resulting products and services make them feel.

Are you designing for delight to improve the customer experience?



  1. Suresh Jayakar. “Design Thinking: Solving Life’s Problems.” Online TedxCrenshaw video clip. Published Jan. 17, 2017. Accessed Feb. 6, 2017.

Dayton is general manager Global Customer Success at CA Technologies. His team is dedicated to…


Modern Software Factory Hub

Your source for the tips, tools and insights to power your digital transformation.
Read more >
Low-Code Development: The Latest Killer Tool in the Agile Toolkit?What Are “Irresistible” APIs and Why Does Akamai's Kirsten Hunter Love Them?Persado's Assaf Baciu Is Engineering AI to Understand How You Feel