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Service Design

Validation strategy: a pragmatic approach toward more customer-centric solutions

Placing customers at the heart of decision-making, known as "customer-centricity", has become increasingly popular among organizations. While many companies aspire to this ideal, creating user-centered products often remains challenging. Why is this the case, and how can a well-thought-out validation strategy improve decision-making?

Decision-making: gut instinct vs. hard data

In organizations aiming to incorporate the customer's voice more in the decision-making process, we typically see two extremes. Some companies rely on gut feelings or internal expertise, claiming, "We understand our customers best!". This approach can lead to biased perspectives, endless discussions, and, worse, products that don't resonate with end-users.

Others invest heavily in gathering data and insights from users. While this can be beneficial, without a clear strategy, most companies often become overwhelmed by the volume of data and struggle to turn it into actionable insights (referred to as 'analysis paralysis').

Regardless whether an organization finds itself far left or far right on the spectrum, it often fails to deliver products or services based on clear customer insights.

Informed decision-making through validation strategy

Gather only essential insights

How can you make informed decisions based on clear customer insights? A validation strategy helps. This strategy involves purposefully collecting essential insights to confirm you're developing the right solution. It breaks down the validation process into smaller steps, allowing you to gather information, gradually deepen your understanding, and refine your product iteratively.

Dividing your validation process into smaller steps allows you to gradually gather the necessary insights and iteratively refine your product.

Benefits of a validation strategy

Optimized time and resource utilization

Regularly testing solutions and engaging with real users increases the likelihood that your product effectively meets user needs. This practice saves resources otherwise expended on elaborated designs or even on an MVP version if your solution fails to meet the target audience's expectations.

70% of business failures happen in the first 2–5 years after launching.
For 35% of cases, the reason for failure is the lack of market need for what they were building.

Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

An iterative approach avoids attempting to address all of your research questions in a single user validation. This type of validation often results in large, costly studies providing insights only months later. Instead, you could continue working based on assumptions, risking investing time in the wrong things, or you could halt your project until insights are obtained — neither scenario is ideal.

A holistic understanding of your users

Small, frequent validations using various techniques help deepen your understanding and build a comprehensive view of user needs and challenges. Predefined next steps will allow for prompt decision-making. This makes a validation strategy a pragmatic approach to incorporate user perspectives while avoiding unnecessary data collection and over-reliance on intuition.

Get started with a validation strategy yourself

When starting a new digital project, consider the crucial decisions and the best times to make them. Outline the necessary data for decision-making at each stage and decide on the right validation methods. This approach makes it easy to start implementing your own validation strategy.

Do you have questions or need more in-depth expertise for your validation strategy? Don't hesitate to reach out, I'd be happy to help.

By Charlotte Dieltjens

Service Designer & User Research Expert