Delivering customer-centric products


Customer-led design is more than just listening to customers - it's about acting on what you hear.

During her CeBIT 2016 presentation titled ‘Delivering customer-centric products’, Louise Long, head of the Human-centred Design (HCD) Team at NAB Labs, quickly dispelled the notion that customer-led design is simply referring to complaints or the company’s Twitter feed for customer feedback.

It’s about understanding customers’ contexts, what Long termed zooming out to zoom in. This is about knowing not just where they are in terms of their interaction with your business, but where they live, what they do, what their level of education is – even what their religion or politics are.

At the end of the day, Long said, any business is just people serving people. And people have basic human needs that don’t change – what does change is their behaviour to meet these needs.

At NAB Labs, Long says, they look at potential solutions to customer’s problems through three lenses:

  • Desirability: how well does it meet the customer’s need?
  • Feasibility: how will we make money from it?
  • Viability: how do we apply the solution sustainably so we can keep doing it in the future?

At the centre of where these three lenses intersect: innovation.

That being said, Long says, innovation is about a certain mindset rather than simply checking boxes. The way to encourage this mindset:

  • Pursue change: It’s important to pursue the outcome, not the option. It can be easy to latch onto an option early on and run with it, and it can sometimes require bravery and courage to change what is not working part way.
  • Question everything: You need to be endlessly curious about the world your customers live in. And don’t be afraid to prove yourself wrong – this is a much more robust way of getting to the right answer, as otherwise your mind will not be attuned to seeing the risks of failure.
  • Practise curiosity: Be endlessly curious about the world your customer lives in, and feel what the customer feels. What is the story and context behind what they’re doing, whether it be applying for a loan or looking to buy a house? Customer journey mapping and blueprinting can be useful at this stage. 

Long’s key takeaways:

  • Customer-led design requires empathy and starting without an answer.
  • Customers don’t change; people do. People will change their behaviours if they are compelled to do so.
  • Innovation is the outcome (not the process) of new ways to meet needs. It’s not innovation if it is not delivered.

At NAB Labs, Long says, they’re all about delivering innovation in a way customers feel it, employees believe in it, and the market sees it. And that is a laudable goal for any company.

CeBIT Australia SME Summary Report