Bringing Together Human Centred Design and Continuous Improvement

Nina Muhleisen | 26 February 2021


Human-Centred Design and Continuous Improvement are a match made in heaven. How do you bring them together to really design the life cycle experience?

There is so much hype to service design. It is now one of the biggest trends in business. Most organisations have a service design team and if they don’t, they hire wonderful externals (like us 🙂 ) to help them design their customer journeys. And they absolutely should! We are in an age where the customer rules, where we need to understand what our customers want and how they want to interact with us and design experiences that match.

But often service design stops at the experience level and unfortunately, there is so much more to it that makes up what we do and how our customers receive their products. Delivering a service requires us to connect multiple different layers of our organisation and each layer needs to be designed and improved upon. This is where the more traditional approach of continuous improvement shines. Looking at the process and technology, mapping how they interact and the true end to end connections of how things get down, analysing to understand where there is waste, wait times and efficiencies to create a more stable and simple customer flow.  

These two approaches of Human-Centred Design and Continuous Improvement are a match made in heaven. Having the two ensures that your customers not only experience a great front end but that that through their life with you and your product it is simple and meets their needs making them come back again.  

So how do you bring them together to really design the life cycle experience?  

  1. Both Continuous improvement and Human Centred Design put the customer at the heart of what you do – it is all about achieving value and looking for the best way to do it together. Use your Human Centred Design tools to really understand what the customer is looking for and empathise with their position. This is invaluable when you start to design the process that meets that experience.  
  2. Continuous improvement lets you get into the details, really understanding the statistics about the process and how it is today. This is great qualitative information to bring to your experience design. Add this and your customer interviews and you will have great insights to build upon. 
  3. Human-Centred Design enables you to experiment and test ideas with your customers. But don’t just test the service or the product, test the process, look at how that can work with your technology. Experiment with handoffs and then refine and continuously improve.  
  4. Human-Centred design enables us to design the perfect experience, but continuous improvement enables us to make smaller changes when the big stuff isn’t ready yet. With insights from our customers providing us with the direction of the experience we want to create sometimes, we can’t get there in one step. Continuous improvement enables us to look for solutions that can help replicate that experience today. Simplifying what we do and how we do it  
  5. Continuous improvement enables us to look at our current technology stack and instead of just adding to it, provides us with a way to simplify and get back to basics. Reducing our technology (and process) complexity reduces our cost, our risk and makes us more resilient. It also makes the employee experience nicer. This gives us more timemoney and energy to spend on delivering that desired customer experience.  

These two approaches therefore a not mutually exclusive but live perfectly together providing each other with information and insights, to create better client and employee experiences. The trick is getting the balance right and using the tools to solve your customer problems.