The Customer Confidential Podcast

Humanizing Experiences: The Power of Design in Creating Meaningful Connections

Ben Reason, founder of Livework, shares how he designs products and services that resonate emotionally.


Humanizing Experiences: The Power of Design in Creating Meaningful Connections

In the world of experience design, it’s not enough for interactions and products to be functional and seamless. They should also resonate deeply with customers and employees, leaving a lasting impact. Ben Reason, the CEO and founder of Livework, a leading services design company, has mastered the art of creating user-friendly and emotionally impactful solutions, spanning from hoof care for horses to healthcare for patients.

Livework takes a unique approach to design, one that goes way beyond the surface level. “We tackle design problems with the same attention to detail that we expect from well-designed everyday objects like toasters and cars,” Ben explains. “Our goal is to create products and services that are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also practical and emotionally engaging.”

While some businesses view the process of redesigning as a costly risk, Livework believes that the benefits far outweigh the initial investment. Ben and his team have consistently proven this philosophy right. Take their collaboration with the London Underground, for example. After the 2012 Olympics, the transportation giant approached Livework with the goal of improving the efficiency of its stations.

Instead of presenting a predefined solution, Livework decided to involve the unionized station staff in the design process. This collaboration helped identify problem areas that their team alone would have missed. As a result, employees were empowered with the tools to create their own prototype station of the future. The outcome? A dramatic reduction in strike time and a huge return on investment for Livework.

But Livework’s impact goes beyond operational enhancements. Through innovative design solutions, the company also helps businesses forge deeper connections with customers.

Consider the case of an appliance manufacturer that turned to Livework to improve the ownership experience and gain insights into post-purchase behavior. Livework identified the potential in harnessing the machines’ Internet connectivity, enabling the company to monitor product usage, provide better support, and collect valuable data for future design improvements.

The key revelation was that, by creating this ongoing connection with customers, the company could transcend the role of a mere product provider. Instead, it became part of the household, offering invaluable support and even reusing components when it was time to say goodbye to the appliance.

It’s fascinating to see how design, when thoughtfully integrated into the customer experience, becomes deeply personal. As Ben reflects, “People become emotionally attached to products that have either saved them from mundane work or have been there for important moments in their lives, like printing off their university dissertation.”

In this episode, I had the privilege of speaking with Ben about the transformative power of design. We delve into the strategies and insights that can help businesses create products and services that are not only functional but also human-centric, forging an emotional connection with customers. Join us as we explore the world of design and its potential to shape unforgettable experiences.

Read on for an excerpt from the show.

Rob Markey: My experience of owning and caring for my washer and dryer wasn’t considered as much in the past as it is today. Frankly, the experience of dealing with it at end of life wasn’t thought of. Those are factors when I think about the next washer and dryer I will buy.

Ben Reason: That production-y culture has very much informed the nature of [appliances]. They are labor-saving devices. But then we are saying, “Well, maybe they’re household members.” And it’s bordering on animistic. We’ve been quite playful with it.


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