The art of listening to your client

Good designers are those that are good listening

Good designers are those that are good listening
When we face a challenge, most people tend to go towards building ideas that can solve the challenge. This is one of the biggest mistakes we fall into when facing a design challenge. We go directly to find solutions when we have not yet understood the problem itself.

As explained in Designpedia, people have two ways of thinking and facing a challenge. On the one hand, as a designer, in a reflective way before the problem and trying to find the whys and to understand more thoroughly what he is seeing, hearing, and listening. And, on the other hand, as an engineer, in a resolutive way before the problem and trying to find functionalities of the solution.

But the beginning of every design challenge begins with understanding, not solving.

A good designer does not show it because of how much he talks, but because of the amount he does not.

Observing and listening are the first steps we have to take when facing a design challenge. If we start from a wrong starting point or biased by our own opinion or interpretation of what our clients think and feel, we will find ourselves designing solutions that probably contribute little or no value to them. And this is one of the most common problems when we face a design challenge.

Truly listening and understanding our client is not an easy job. People rarely tell the truth neither be really honest with how we feel in a particular situation or in the presence of a product or service. Our client will very rarely directly express a clear and valuable insight. The key is to know how to go beyond what they tell us, listen to the stories of our clients, and from there obtain the really valuable insights.

The main result we should obtain from listening to our client is, on the one hand, identifying their real pain points, our design challenge, or challenge. And, on the other hand, identifying which are the motivations that make him move and which makes him choose one option ahead of another. What it really values.

But… what tools can help us listen to our client and process all that information in a way that brings us value?

There are several tools that you will find in our Designpedia, that can help us obtain the information we need from our client and order this information. These are some of the main tools that you can use to work listening with your client:

    • Persona:
      is one of the first tools on which we usually work when it comes to understanding and listening to our client. The purpose of using this tool is to build a deeper and more real image of our client. Analyze his motivations and understand his needs is key to being able to empathize with our client and understand what makes sense and what does not for our client. It is important when carrying out this tool into practice, that we base it on a real client. It is not something made up by chance and making assumptions. It is a tool we must perform with our client. It will help us identify, in addition to data, motivations, needs, and goals that he want to achieve.


    • Qualitative interview:
      are one of the most used tools to obtain customer data. The objective is to be able to obtain data from our client, impressions, and preferences in a case of study. The trick with this tool is not only in knowing how to ask the right questions but in knowing how to capture the stories. Get the confidence of our client so that he feels comfortable and begins to tell us about his experiences. And from there, be able to get new insights that we did not have in mind so far.


    • Empathy Map:
      helps us reach a deeper point of view about our client. It is about understanding what they feel or think, what they hear, sees, and what our client says or does to our design challenge or case study. It helps us empathize more with our client and have a greater understanding once we have defined their Persona.


    • Customer Journey Map:
      is key to understand well what is the trip that our client makes with respect to our case study. Understand which are the points of contact with which parts of the product or service interfere and how they live emotionally this moment or how they value each of the points of contact. This tool will help us to deepen more in the experience of our client and to identify new problems and needs. But it is basic to be able to make this tool not only through observation, but with your client. Not to fall into suppositions, and that is knowledge validated by the client.


  • POV:
    helps us to organize the insights we have obtained as a result of listening and observing our client. It is a simple dynamic: Client needs ‘X’, because ‘Y’. The complicated part of the tool is to discover the right insights so that it can help us synthesize the user, their problems, and the causes of these problems. That is why we can not stay with a single tool, we must make several tools to complete all the information we need, and can provide real value when we get to work on the solution.

One of the keys of use of these tools is not to fall into suppositions or not to assume things that we really do not know. It is vital to obtain accurate and valid information for your design challenge that you listen to your client and use these tools with them, consciously or unconsciously, for our client. But always basing the tools on information validated by our client.

Find more tools to help you understand your challenge or problem better in our community!

Published at 24/10/2018

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