I recently participated in my first Citrix Synergy in Orlando.

In our Customer Experience booth and breakout sessions, we heard lots of interesting stories on the opportunities – and challenges – our customers face in delivering meaningful experiences to their end users. It was a great opportunity to listen and get some real business feedback.

Journey Mapping

Our team ran two hands-on workshops to share some of the user-centered design methods that we apply internally at Citrix. At the end of these sessions, one of the participants’ common questions was “How can I share this with more people back at my office?”

Here are three things you could do today to help your teams start thinking in a more user-centered way.

1. Discover the Power of Empathy

Building empathy for your users is the foundation of a human-centered design approach. One of my favorite TED talks–Transforming Healthcare for Children and Their Families–shows how powerful this can be.

It’s the story of Doug Dietz, an industrial designer for GE Healthcare. Doug had received much praise from the hospital staff using his state-of-the-art MRI and CT scan machines, but he was stunned to see that the patient experience terrified one of his most important users: young children. Determined to make a difference, Doug got to know these young patients and their parents better, then reimagined the entire experience to tap into a child’s sense of imagination. The results were deeply personal for him, and as a parent myself, I immediately grasped the impact a human-centered design approach can have.

What if it were my children going through something like that?

2. Talk With Your Users … and Really Listen

Talking with, and truly listening to, your users seems like common sense, doesn’t it?

We’ve written previously about the forgotten art of talking with your customers, but the reality is that technology decisions are often made without direct input from real-live end users. It’s not difficult to understand why: maybe you aren’t sure how to get access to users, or how to go about interviewing them.

Time and time again, in our own design projects, we are reminded of one truth: You can’t fake empathy. There is no substitute for sitting down and talking with your users, observing their facial expressions and body language.

Think of three users of your product or service, and sit down with them for an informal chat. Check out this Interviewing Basics guidebook for some tips on how to get the most from your conversations. The key is to get out there and start talking to users. It may feel awkward at first, but the more conversations you have, the more natural they become.

3. Experiencing is Believing

How can you then apply the insights you’ve gathered from your user conversations? We’ve found the design thinking methods from Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka the “d.school”) especially approachable and useful. This action-oriented 90 minute design project runs you through an entire design cycle, and could easily be completed in your next weekly staff meeting. One of the things I like most about this activity is that it’s not based on your own business. Learning a method using a story different from your own allows you to focus on learning without the distractions of accurately representing your business. Once you’ve experienced the approach using sample topics, you’ll then be in a great position to apply it to your own work.

We’d welcome the opportunity to share more ideas and stories, and we’re always interested to hear your thoughts. Feel free to reach out to us at cxlistens@citrix.com, and follow us on Twitter @CitrixCX.