The three stages of design first
This stage is all about being culturally and contextually relevant. A consumer needs to discover and understand a product or service in the first instance, before any form of purchase or loyalty can occur.
Services must therefore be designed so they are easily discovered and understood. They have to feel real and relevant, by way of meeting real human needs.
Importantly, there should be a strong hook or point of differentiation in the way the offering has been designed, as this will be the element people will mention to their friends.
If a business does a good job designing for this first stage of engagement, a positive user reaction will be likely, indicating they recognize the product’s value and are ready to take the next step.
In the trial stage, it is crucial for businesses to make it easy for consumers to start engaging with their product or service. All entry barriers should be reduced.
Gaming dynamics, social service components and engaging design can all be very powerful for consumers as they test their newly discovered product or service.
An ability to fluidly use the service across platforms is also important. But with multiple touch points and interactions, complexity is a real issue, both for the people using the services, as well as for the companies that provide them. This must be addressed as early in the design process as possible.
The final, and arguably most important, stage is loyalty. A service that is designed to add value and is meaningful over a long period of time will engender loyalty with the user, where the service has become an essential part of their everyday life.
Consistency, trust and reliability will be essential during this stage, and these attributes must all be considered from the start to keep people coming back.
As consumers begin to trust their services over time and put more of their personal data into them, they should never have doubts about privacy or the true intentions of their service provider.
Being transparent with consumers on their data use is a critical part of an effective design concept.
It’s not about making clear to users in the small print that you won’t sell their private data without their explicit permission, it’s about building an organizational culture from the start that lets people know that’s not what your business is about.
Conclusion: design first, benefit long-term
As businesses continue to transform through digital, the lines between marketing, commerce and services themselves will blur.
With this, companies need to be thinking about the cross-platform experience that customers expect, and how to keep people engaged from the start of their journey to the end.
By adopting an effective design, or design first mentality within businesses, millions of personalized, meaningful interactions and transactions can be created that fulfill the needs of customers in the digital world, advancing an organization’s perception of what it means to truly design experiences for customers.
In tandem, businesses should move away from the concept of marketing as being something you 'do to' a customer to something you 'do with' a customer.
They should also move away from words and initiatives such as target, capture and convert and toward terms such as influence, engage, stimulate, share and help.
The end result for customers will be relevant, personalized engagements, and being treated like the individual they are.