Facebook Live panel says that customers should be part of the product design experience

TD Design Camp

Last week, BetaKit, in partnership with TD Lab, hosted a live chat highlighting the importance of human-centric and design-centric thinking in emerging tech companies.

In the video below, Aaron Stuart, product management leader and director of TD Lab, and Zahra Ebrahim, co-lead at Doblin Canada, share their thoughts on how companies can balance the need to embrace emerging technology quickly without neglecting customer needs.

“How do you tease out insights from experiments, and give them light…across an organization?”

Stuart suggests that tech companies and financial institutions must have a customer-centric focus when approaching new products from the get-go, and stresses empathizing with customers to make them a part of the design and development process. Getting feedback from customers is also critical when development teams are evaluating the viability of their products and services.

“How do we do quick bets to actually show a customer something…so we can get a reaction from them and at the same time, have the spirit of experimentation?” says Stuart. “The refreshing thing is that we can place these small bets and help inform people within the business [to say] maybe this technology isn’t quite ready yet.”

Ebrahim also stresses the value of extracting and conveying insights to different teams within a company.

“How do you tease out insights from experiments, and give them light and give them legs across an organization?” says Ebrahim. “For us, when we see the most design-led organizations, it’s not how many prototypes they put out to market. It’s not how many prototypes and pilots they’re making per year. It’s, ‘how many insights are they generating that can be shared across the organization in really dynamic ways?’”

TD Design Camp
TD employees developing user centred design skills at TD Design Camp

In the video, Stuart and Ebrahim also touch on how product teams can deal with the pressure to jump on the latest technological bandwagons while ensuring they don’t miss fulfilling their customer’s expectations.

Ebrahim says it’s less about matching your competitors, and more about figuring out what you’re trying to develop and communicating that with customers. She refers to building a “social contract” with customers so they understand what a company is trying to build, and feel part of that product design experience.

Honest conversations with customers help companies “not just build that thing right, but build the right thing.”

“Before you start setting expectations with your customers, you have to actually figure out, are you telling them this is transformational for the world…or is this just baseline improvements?” Ebrahim says. “If it’s a baseline improvement, do it better than everyone else. But if it’s transformational…the only way I can think of it is renegotiating your social contract with your customer.”

Ebrahim adds that “explicitly articulating” to customers that they are part of an experiment to build a new, disruptive product “invites them into co-designing it with you” and give feedback.

On the same topic of co-designing products with customers, Stuart says having honest conversations with customers, and even other team members, ultimately help a company “not just build that thing right, but build the right thing.”

To help companies integrate a more human-centric design approach into their product development, TD Bank recently partnered with Deloitte-Doblin and Pathways to Education to kick-off the TD Design Camp, a four-week design thinking and development program that focuses on the user experience to drive innovation. Through the program, TD aims to help its employees learn and develop human-centred design skills.


Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer and content creator at BetaKit with a strong interest in Canadian startup, business, and legal tech news. In her free time, Amira indulges in baking desserts, working out, and watching legal shows.

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