Retail CX service design 101


IDEO CEO and Chairman Tim Brown in his old Harvard business review article wrote “…as economies in the developed world shift from industrial manufacturing to knowledge work and service delivery, innovation’s terrain is expanding. Its objectives are no longer just physical products; they are new sorts of processes, services, IT-powered interactions, entertainments, and ways of communicating and collaborating—exactly the kinds of human centered activities in which design thinking can make a decisive difference.” 

More and more organizations are using design thinking as an approach for services designing and extending design experimentation to business models, Business-IT interactions, business development and every other business area to be designing and not engineered for solutions.

If retail services can focus on limited few success approaches for increasing customer loyalty than design thinking will top the solution chart list. As customer live in moment and expect best possible experience in his or her moment. Retailers can learn from giant like Procter and Gamble to use design thinking in products as well as in services.

Retailer must design their processes and services for customer to provide customer enjoy delighting moment.

For example:

Lets breakdown customer experience into attraction, engagement and extension. Success coffee joints such as Starbucks in USA and Café Coffee Day in India use design thinking approach for defining delighting attraction, engagement and extension customer experience.


Right ambiance, customer friendly sitting and service arrangements, multimedia gadgets help define modern visual outlook and set tone for attracting right segment of customers. Every customer touch points is taken care in environment to delight customer and transition customer from attraction to engagement stage.

Similarly retailers must understand and meet customer needs based on their mood, taste choice, budget, quality and need. Often customer does not reveal all aspects of retail outlet visit however smart service representatives can probe customer with couple of questions and understand intentions.

At this junction customer may be just checking out or doing time pass in a shopping mall as he or she may be waiting for partner or waiting for next scheduled movie show.

Retail outlet products arrangement, lighting, windows dressing, service representative outlook, music and fragrance may help touch customer senses in attracting customers.


Quality of service, music, competent staff, time to service delivery and interaction helps in better customer engagement. Its important at this junction to allow customer to live in their moment without major shocks and surprises to ensure they are engagement. Element of surprise is good however engagement demands more predictability and less surprises. Customer can unravel their emotions, business interactions over a sip of coffee in comfortable environment helps to engage customer for long duration.

Similarly at retail outlet customer may ask for help for example: at fashion apparel retail outlet customer may ask for suitable size, color shades, material medium and may wish to tryout specific product or wish to get expert opinion on matching product contrasts. At this junction it is important to use product insight, merchandise expertise to share experience with customer and help customer for their needs.

Service representative must ensure at this junction to bring comfort feeling for customer and win the customer trust. Often at this junction it’s an opportunity for customer service representatives to cross sell products or surprise customer with more variety or value in terms of price or brand or any other offer.


Coffee baristas extend quality of service and customer delighting experience by combining suitable products and cross sell it. Extending existing product, service, offer, discounts, small token gifts, etc can change customer mood and helps in building brand loyalty.

At retail outlets the cross products selling or offering products alternation services for free, gift wrapping, product delivery at suitable schedule, address helps extend customer loyalty. Competent customer service representative must focus on quality and service with emotion helps in increasing customer satisfaction by delighting touch points experience.



Engineer by training; Business value advocate by choice. User, Coach, Trainer and active promoter of Business Model Innovation and Design Thinking. (after all its moral obligation when you learn from the best - Stanford Uni) Pivoted from merger and acquisition to digital transformation to defining innovation strategies to building startup to lean and agile delivery. Always inquisitive by nature and creative thinker in action believe in continuing life long learning journey.

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