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4 Tools for More Collaborative and Customer-Focused Teams

January 5, 2018
Last updated on
June 14, 2024

Design tools can be learned by anyone!  The impact that they can have on an organisation is immense.  These are just a few tools designers used to facilitate collaborative problem-solving and to foster a customer-centered environment.

If you work in a company with different departments, chances are that critical information about your customers are often not shared.  This tends to happen when team members work in silos; sales teams are pushed to meet targets, product owners focus on the product’s development, and developers focus on getting the product built in time for the next launch date.  

Here are a few tools you could use to organise customer insights and create more empathy for your customers within your organisation.

Run a design workshop

Design workshops can be run in under 2 hours and are for non-designers and designers alike.  They encourage ‘silent collaboration’ whereby participants come together and agree on which problem is the most important to solve.

Once the problem has been identified, the ideation process starts.  Team members quickly jot down or draw out their proposed solutions.  In this exercise, quantity is important and no idea is a bad one. The facilitator maps out the solutions on an action priority matrix.

Finally, the team votes on the best solution in the ‘quick wins’ section.

This exercise requires a facilitator, but it’s something easily learnt.  Coincidentally, it’s also something we teach in our part-time program!

Create personas

Personas are ‘archetypes’ of your customers.  They encourage businesses to think empathetically about the people buying their products.  Personas are usually created when you have information about your customer either through some form of data collection (e.g. surveys) or, if the data hasn’t been captured yet, based on an assumption about the type of customers you are targeting.

There is no fixed limit on the number of personas you can have, but remember that it is an archetype of your customer (i.e., it should be representative of a ‘type’ rather than a single customer).

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Use customer journey maps to create alignment

Customer insights may be shared during larger team meetings, but how does an organisation make sense of this information?  What is the intended output of such insights? Unless systems are in place for prioritising which problems are solved first, insights can easily be overlooked or ignored.

Experience designers have long been using Customer Journey Maps.  Journey maps are incredibly useful to any company that has a customer focus whether or not UX designers are involved.  Arguably one of the largest benefits of mapping a customer’s journey is that it helps teams align on the overall goal. When the team is aligned on the customer’s difficulties or ‘pain-points’, there is a desire to solve the same problems.

Guerilla Usability Testing

If you provide a product to customers, how do you know what works well and what doesn’t?  Many businesses claim they test their products but ask questions that do not give real insights.  Guerilla testing is a quick and effective way to get feedback on your product before launching or making changes.  Like other experiments, consistency is key.  Ensure that you ask all participants the same questions about the product. Then ask them to complete tasks on your app or website. Do not ask ‘do you like it?’ or ‘would you use this?’; you certainly won’t get the insights you were hoping for!  Believe it or not, you only need 5 participants for this exercise.


Milanote is a tool for organizing creative projects into beautiful visual boards.
By design, it feels a lot like working on the wall in a creative studio - visual, tactile and sometimes a bit messy - Milanote is a great fit for designers who work in teams remotely.

Key Features:

  • Write notes & to-do lists, upload images & files and save things you find on the web
  • Organize visually using the flexible drag and drop interface.
  • Boards by default are a private place to think, but with a single click you can create a shared workspace for collaboration with your team
  • Milanote is filled with hundreds of built-in templates to help you get started with a variety of different projects, from creating a mood board to writing that perfect creative brief.

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