Today, marketing professionals are under a ton of pressure to understand and improve customer experience. Brands and marketers alike realize that paying attention to what you say in your ads, marketing collateral, and social media campaigns is no longer enough: You also need to deliver experiences that people want...

But how?

When companies consider design as a core strategic function, they have a much higher valuation over time: Design-driven companies show 10-year returns of 219% over the Standard & Poor's 500 index, the Design Management Institute has found. Yet, although strategic design is being practiced, and successfully at that, at some organizations, many others are baffled by the challenge and struggle to get started.

The typical organization is composed of any number of departments, each charged with its own specific initiative. Often, a department is able to perfect its specific piece of the puzzle—at the expense of a seamless end-to-end customer experience.

For example, a telecom's initiative to reduce call volume might end up reducing the amount of incoming calls... at the expense of driving more people into the store to get help. Or a bank might invest heavily in a new website for opening new accounts, only to realize that people default to going into the branch because they have set-up questions or concerns regarding the security of their personal data.

From my experience, the only way for an organization to avoid such problems and to be successful, is to adopt the mindset of their customers. Or, better yet, to integrate the customer in the design of an optimal customer journey. It's a methodology called co-design.

The Power of Co-Design

Once you realize that you've been designing your customer experience all wrong by simply following traditional business practices that prioritize efficiency and scale over the satisfaction of the end-user, it's time to set things straight.

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image of Chris Ferguson

Chris Ferguson is CEO of Bridgeable, the largest service design agency in North America. He also teaches design methods to business students at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

LinkedIn: Chris Ferguson

Twitter: @chrisferg