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How to solve customer problems with design thinking

Design thinking is a business technique used to develop services or products that meet customers’ needs. Here’s how to do it, using our own Employment Agreement Builder as an example.

Design thinking is a powerful technique used to develop services or products that meet customers’ needs. Here’s how to do it, using our own Employment Agreement Builder as a case study.

The aim of design thinking is to find human-centred solutions to complex problems. Key steps include:

  • gaining empathy for your customers
  • pinpointing their problem or pain point
  • exploring and trying out different solutions by prototyping
  • testing prototypes with customers and then iterating based on their feedback.
You don't have to be a designer by trade or title to use design thinking.

You don't have to be a designer by trade or title to use design thinking.

How to get involved

If you’d like to be part of Business.govt.nz’s design thinking process in future projects, join our customer group.

Your expertise and insights will help us develop tools and content for small businesses like yours.
 

How does it work?

Great design isn’t just about beauty and form. It’s about unlocking what people need, why they need it, and how to best meet those needs.

Business.govt.nz used design thinking to create the Employment Agreement Builder (external link) (EAB) — a new online tool for employers to build their own legally safe contracts, all written in plain English.

Step 1. Work with your customers

Real customers play a key role in the design process.

We worked closely with members of the Business.govt.nz customer group to develop EAB.

The customer group is a pool of people who work in or advise small businesses in New Zealand. When Business.govt.nz creates new tools and content, members of this group provide insights into the small business perspective.

Step 2. Gain empathy and insights

The heart of design thinking is about first understanding — and eventually delivering — what people need. A problem cannot be solved without first knowing the reason why it is so.

So EAB started with stories.

We spoke to Business.govt.nz customers from small businesses in different stages, industries and areas across New Zealand. We asked how they go about hiring people, about mistakes they’ve made, and stumbling blocks they’ve encountered.

By listening to our customers’ stories, we learned what business owners and operators thought, felt and did when it came to hiring new staff members.

Step 3. Pinpoint problems

We honed in on points of pain and satisfaction. We found it can be:

  • stressful bringing new people onto the team
  • confusing and time-consuming to create employment agreements (you must have one for each person you employ)
  • hard to keep up to date with employment law.

This is why it’s easy to get an agreement wrong, put too much information into it or skip doing it entirely — all of which can lead to serious consequences.

Our customer insight work helped us understand that businesses need an employment agreement tool that’s jargon-free, straightforward and maps out what is needed (and not needed) in each agreement.

Step 4. Explore solutions

We used these stories and experiences as a springboard to explore ways to solve these problems.

Find out how in part two, which will be in our August’s newsletter. We’ll set out how we devised prototypes and tested these with small business owners and operators — prototypes that evolved into our Employment Agreement Builder (external link) .

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