How to Design Customer-Centric Experiences — Lessons from Pandora

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Sabina Białek

Feb 7, 2022 • 9 min read
How to Design Customer-Centric Experiences

Designing a customer experience that’s functional, accessible, and loved by people around the world is tough, but Pandora manages to pull it off.

Pandora is one of the most well-known jewelry brands in the world and is popular for its customizable charm bracelets in particular.

Sandra Wdowiak, User Experience Designer at Pandora, joins Disruption Talks to discuss design thinking, Pandora’s approach to customer experience, and Sandra’s take on the wider design industry.

Originally coming from the finance industry, Sandra is new to jewelry, but her wealth of experience in design translates well to her role at Pandora.

Why UX design is so crucial

Good UX design helps brands to create products that are tailored to users’ needs and are easy to use. This makes it fundamental to a business’ ability to serve its customers and deliver on its promises.

Customer experience can make or break a sale and greatly impacts conversion rates. On average, it’s believed that every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return, making the return on investment a huge 9,900%.

UX design isn’t just about creating products that look good. It can streamline the user experience, saving them time and frustration, and provides an accessible way to access the tools or information they need.

How Pandora prioritizes UX design

As a brand loved around the world, Pandora must be doing something right. Part of its success can be attributed to its determination to offer the best customer experiences it can.

Sandra’s work in user experience design is part of that. She works with two teams, the design team, and the digital product team. They focus on - among other things - providing a personalized experience for Pandora customers and empowering store associates to provide seamless and personalized in-store experiences.

One of the key performance indicators that is especially important for Sandra is the net promoter score (NPS) which measures customer loyalty, satisfaction, and enthusiasm with the company.

Sandra has also teamed up with a few colleagues in Pandora to work on improving the design thinking culture across the company.

"We look at how we can create more understanding of design thinking and promote it among people at Pandora so that more people see and understand the value of that philosophy."

Using customer insights to improve design

According to Pandora’s website, customer design is inspired directly by customer insights. The website says:

"Designs will be crafted by fusing robust consumer insights and strong creative expression."

To ensure new product platforms become successful and add incremental volume, Pandora uses these insights to design for different needs and target groups.

Sandra explains that customer insights are fundamental to Pandora’s research activities, and research is always part of the design process. Pandora’s design team uses both qualitative and quantitative data, different dashboards, and matrixes to really understand user behavior patterns.

"Then, based on that, we can take certain actions. For example, if we see there's a big number of users that are stuck in a certain place, then that might be a good insight for us to dig a little bit deeper."

Whenever Pandora launches new products or features, there are various tests to ensure they’re solving real challenges for their customers.

The team also looks at different types of customers, for example, gift-givers versus those buying for themselves, because each will have a different mindset and approach to buying decisions.

"It's essential to base your work on customer and user insights. That is very close to my heart," Sandra says.

"If you don't leverage user insights, you risk that whatever you launch is not what people actually need or it's not solving a real problem for them."

Meeting the needs of a diverse customer base

Knowing your customers is one thing, but what about when your customer base is so large and diverse, and global?

With so many customers, markets, and cultures to factor into research and design, it’s both exciting and challenging for people like Sandra. Sandra explains that some of the solutions that apply to the Chinese market might not translate the same way to for example the French market.

It’s not just down to taste or culture, though. Companies like Pandora need to factor in different regulations in those markets as well.

"It’s much easier if you can launch a product that is more unified and that is something more global. But then you risk that this global solution wouldn't necessarily fit into the needs of the local markets."

Designing with Gen Z in mind

According to Reuters, Pandora "bets on Gen Z to boost sales", and with 32% of the population falling into that age group, it’s easy to see why.

Sandra notices that there has been an impact on the jewelry industry from Gen Z, Pandora launched a brand new collection called Pandora ME that was targeted to Gen Z specifically.

Pandora’s customer base ranges in culture, age, and gender, so the teams are used to designing for different user experiences. A big focus right now is trying to ensure the digital experience is only getting better, for example, with the online bracelet builder.

"It’s always about finding the right balance between new products and very tech-savvy features and a more traditional presentation approach."

However, while Gen Z may disrupt things for many brands, some common rules and standards apply to all age groups. For example, a common practice in UX design to reduce cognitive load where possible. That applies to all users, no matter the industry, and will likely continue to do so.

For those new to customer feedback in design

Sandra has some advice for those who have not yet worked with customer feedback before. Her simple answer is to just try it. In designing customer experiences, the customers’ insights are key.

To become good at design, Sandra says you need to be open to change and trying new things – even if they’re out of your comfort zone.

A common mistake people make is becoming so attached to their idea or product that they can’t let it go.

However, it’s important to get that feedback to see if it’s heading in the right direction.

"When you allow yourself to give whatever you're working on to others, to get customer feedback, that can be an eye-opener, and it can only have positive results on the end outcome."

Switching to a design career

Sandra also has some advice for those who are considering a switch to a UX career. The first tip she has is to look at the experience and skills you already have that could translate to the UX field.

Beyond that, Sandra believes that design is such a huge space that there are many opportunities to get involved. If you think you’re not a right fit for UX design, you might be surprised at how wide the space is.

"There are service designers, content writers, researchers, UX designers, UI designers, behavioral designers, design system experts, animation experts, you name it."

If Sandra could change one thing about the design industry, it would be the mindset of people when they think about who a designer is. It’s a common misconception that designers just :make things pretty", and instead, they have so much more to offer.

This discussion is part of our Disruption Talks recordings, where we invite experts to share their insights on winning innovation strategies, the next generation of disruptors, and scaling digital products. To get unlimited access to this interview and more insights from industry experts, sign up here.

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Sabina Białek

Senior UX Designer and Team Lead at Netguru
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