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How to use design thinking for customer experience: Part one

Jess Robinson, 5 minute read

In today’s world, everyone expects a seamless customer experience (CX) — whether they’re navigating to a website on their own or chatting with a service agent. But in order to provide great CX, customer service reps (CSRs) must have intuitive and flexible tools that adapt to people’s needs fast, and reduce the number of errors at high volume. When designing Microjourneys™ for Pega customer service, our primary goal is to uncover the needs of both customer and agent — and ensure we are providing the best solution for both users. Here’s how we do it:

Before the design sprint 

Designers on the Industry Solutions team at Pega work on solving common industry-specific business challenges by focusing on user roles and the specialized needs those users have. We begin our process by conducting a design thinking workshop with stakeholders from design, business, and engineering to align on the problem we want to solve. During this workshop we utilize the Jobs to Be Done framework to define personas by their situation and the “jobs” they are trying to get done.

Define your user persona 

So, what exactly is a great persona and why is it important to get this part right?

When designing a persona for marketing, you might typically think of a demographic profile — or a person’s demographic traits such as age, gender, interests, and motivations. But when it comes to enterprise software, personas are the people whose workflows illustrate the problems we’re solving. We define them as follows:

1. What situation is this person in? 

2. What are they trying to accomplish? What are their desired outcomes?

Demographic traits may help paint a better picture of your user persona and make them more relatable, or create empathy for them among your team. But don’t lose sight of your personas’ situation and outcomes— they are critical for uncovering unmet needs and opportunities to improve your customer service experience.

Job stories provide context

In customer service, we define two primary personas: consumers and CSRs. While they may share a common outcome, these personas operate in radically different environments and scenarios. We design for both personas simultaneously, so it’s important to understand how their needs may be different, and apply those insights to our designs.

For example, imagine a Microjourney to submit an auto claim to an insurance provider. Once we have mapped out a high-level flow outlining how each persona executes the job from beginning to end, we can start to dive into those discrete steps along the way. For each step of the process, we ask “What is this persona doing? Thinking? Feeling?”

Additional questions about user personas may pop up throughout the process, including: 

  • What is their experience level?  

  • How often do they need to do this job?  

  • What other environmental factors exist when they are trying to do this job?  

  • What is motivating them?

As the team brainstorms their way through the flow, it quickly becomes clear that “filing an auto claim” is a very different situation for the consumer and the CSR. On the one hand, the consumer is trying to file an auto claim at the site of a car accident, on their phone, likely during a chaotic and highly stimulating scene, and under a lot of unexpected emotional strain. On the other hand, the CSR has already taken 10 other calls just like this today, and they are only through their first cup of coffee.

We can even write small glimpses about each of these steps by writing job stories using a MadLibs-style sentence template to help frame our thinking: 

When I am <situation>, I want <motivation>, so that I can <desired outcome>.

It’s really important to be as specific as you can here; don’t just use broad strokes or you will miss out. 

Instead of writing, “When I am filing a claim, I want an easy-to-use form, so that I can get this done quickly," try to really visualize the moment and uncover nuance that will bring light to a specific situation.

For example:  

“When I have just been in a fender-bender, I want to effortlessly and accurately report the damage to my insurance company, so I can get back to working with the emergency responders and towing service.”  

This example better illustrates what it’s really like to be in a car accident and invites new opportunities for us to meet the needs of someone in that specific situation. 

Based on our clearly-written job story, examples of opportunities for the consumer on self-service might sound like:

“How might we utilize the mobile device to expedite filing a claim?”


“How might we provide additional services, such as towing or ride share vouchers, to get our consumers to where they were going?”

And for the CSR, speaking to the customer:

“How might we allow for flexibility during intake, so the CSR can easily respond to the customer’s heightened emotional state?” 


“How might we word our call script to alleviate stress and facilitate a smooth and efficient intake process?”

Empathy is key

We arrive at great customer service by getting specific about the situations and outcomes of our customers and agents. And placing our product team at the center of those experiences helps us better align on project priorities and goals. Following the Pega Express Delivery Approach in App Studio is perfect for this kind of thinking. App Studio helps us visualize the key factors of each Microjourney, which we will then translate into case types, personas, data objects, and other Pega elements. We will explore this in detail in our next article.

Recommended Resources:

Don't Forget

About the Author

Jess Robinson is a Product UX Designer focused on web self-service experiences. 

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