Co-Designing is a method in which a company’s design team guides the customer in the designing process and encourages the customer to assist in the development of their product. The co-designing method provides customers a more in depth perspective at what goes on in the process of making a product. It allows them a hands-on experience, involving them in the process of designing, which helps the company produce the right quality that the customer is looking for. A rapport is built between company and customer in the process which is handled by customer service representatives. These representatives must have a good grasp of the fundamentals of the technology used in producing the product in order to properly assist the customer’s needs in an efficient and professional manner.
The following are the steps in which the co-designing process is done, including the activities pertaining to the customer, design team and customer service representative(s):
First Contact: First contact is typically made by the customer reaching out to the company’s knowledgeable customer service representative or sales department. The customer defines the basic information of the product they are looking for and will receive a quote provided by the estimating team. Beyond this point, it is the customer service representative’s responsibility to be able to fulfill all of the customer’s needs by actively listening and communicating with them until satisfaction is reached.
Research: A lot of back and forth will happen between the customer and the customer service representative in order to gather more information about the product that they are looking for such as what the product is going to be used for, where it will be used, and how it will be used. The representative will need every detail and will need to be as specific as possible while making recommendations when necessary to guide the customer. The representative will also need to make the customer aware of any standard industry requirements as well other specifications the customer may have not considered that would help improve their product. Contact may need to be made more than once, building a rapport with the customer. The representative must actively listen to the customer as well as ask them questions and offer solutions to problems they may face. In this step, the customer service representative will assist the customer in making decisions about their product’s elements by using their knowledge of the processes and materials that go into making each individual product.
Follow-Up: The customer service representative will need to follow up with the customer on any loose ends and questions either party may have. Each party will also need to prepare information to present for the step 4. The customer service representative must remain flexible for their customers as they may alter their order as the product develops. With patience, the representative must be able to understand the goal that the customer is trying to achieve with the changes and create a flexible solution that will get the customer what they want.
Conference Call or Meeting: Customer and representatives will meet either in person or on the phone to discuss the fine and final details that will be decided to create the proof of the product. All options should be on the table and taken in to account before making a decision. Each party will present their research as well as their professional opinion on which options the product should take. The conceptual design, or proof, is then created by the design team to be approved by the customer. This proof will have all of the details needed to create the product. \In order to provide the customer with the best results, customer service representatives must be able to solve all customer problems. If a material does not match up with another due to circumstances, the representative should be able to present alternative solutions to the problem. The representative may give their experienced perspective in order to help the customer find the right solutions. The customer’s approval of the proof is vital to this step because the product will then be put into production. It is the customer service representative’s responsibility to make sure the proof is approved 100 percent by the customer.
Testing: Prototypes are the testing phase of the process in which the approved proof of the concept design is a tangible result of the research and communication that has taken place between customer and company. The prototype goes through the normal production steps to be made. The prototype is sent to the customer and the customer either approves or denies it after verifying the product’s form, fit and function. If denied, the proof is reviewed and edited for appropriate adjustments. Portions of the project must be reviewed that may have also been overlooked.
The customer should leave in a more satisfied condition than before the first contact. Throughout the entire process, the customer service representative should make sure that the customer has to put in the least amount of effort into the project as possible. If any mistakes are made, the representative should take responsibility and solve the issue and then learn from it. The customer should then be encouraged to send the company feedback of their experience, no matter if it is positive or negative. Feedback allows the company to understand what the customers expect from their business and in what ways they still have yet to improve.
Co-Designing streamlines when the customer and the company representatives are able to work well as a team. Not only does the experience of design and product development change due to co-design, but the quality of the products produced is drastically changed. Working closely with the customer allows the company to understand what the customer wants better as well as understand the right quality of the product that will exceed customer expectations.