One of the principles of design thinking is that innovators need to get into their customers’ heads to understand their wants and needs, pain points and customer experience. One way to do that is to compare your customers’ journey with an analogous situation you have experienced yourself.

If your customer experience involves waiting in line – for instance, airport check-in – think about analogous situations where you were made to wait, such as checking in to a hotel or standing in line at the movie theater. How did those experiences make you feel? Answers might be: anxious, fear that tickets would disappear, boredom, physical pain (like hurting feet). Once you have those emotions and experiences written down, you can move on to the step of searching for solutions. Perhaps folding chairs could be provided for those who can’t stand for long periods or TV screens could entertain customers as they wait in line.

If your customers come to your store (online or brick and mortar) to choose a product, how do they find the right product which will meet their needs? Analogous situations might be research done in the library or online. Researchers may experience confusion, be overwhelmed and give up before they reach their goals. As a store owner, these are emotions and results you want to prevent. Brainstorm how to make choosing a product simpler and less confusing. You may want to display fewer items on one webpage or in one display. Perhaps sorting by certain criteria or helpful in-store salespeople will clear the mist and help customers make smart decisions.

The analogous situations tools is most successful when used in a group setting. Bring your staff together in a large room and put up a big whiteboard. Create two columns, one for emotions and activities involved in your customer experience and a second one for similar situations which incorporate the same emotions and activities. Once you start filling in the first column, people will naturally start to brainstorm the analogous situations. When those are noted on the whiteboard, people will start adding new emotions and activities to the first column based on their own experiences with the analogous situations. At the end of the process, choose the most vital pain points and use them as the basis of a brainstorming session to look for solutions and methods of improving the overall customer experience.

And you! Have you used analogous situations tools recently? What are the outcomes of your group session? You can contact us for examples.

Patrick Sirois
[email protected]

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.