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Customer Experience Innovation Involves Everyone

Lynn Hunsaker | Jul 10, 2009 520 views 5 Comments

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Every person in an organization is needed for customer experience innovation. That’s because customer expectations and competitive offerings are always on the rise. Your processes, policies, skills, and motivations have a lot to do with keeping customers coming back — and even more to do with customers deciding not to come back.

Think of your own situation as a customer — whenever you’ve decided not to go back to a certain product or service or place, it was usually because you were turned off by a process, policy, skill, or motivation, right?



For example, at Procter & Gamble every one of their 100,000-plus employees is expected to continually innovate customer experience. They do it by developing new product ideas, cutting cycle time and costs, improving skills, creating new ways for customers to access value, and making processes and policies more customer-friendly.

How do you innovate customer experience?

1) Find out what outcomes customers expect. This is different from product or service features. Those are just means-to-an-end. The outcome is what the customer really buys.

2) Find out how customers make value judgments of each outcome. This is different from satisfaction levels. They want outcome A to be minimized, or outcome B to be increased — get the customers’ wording for this, and maintain that wording to measure your performance.

3) Find out #1 and #2 for the whole customer experience — from the point when the customer becomes aware of a need through the point when the customer no longer perceives that need.

4) Think about your role in helping the company succeed on #1 and #2 and #3 above. You do play a role in customer experience. Discuss it with your peers. Take ownership and make good things happen.

5) Track the customer’s value quotient: the ratio of desired outcomes to undesired outcomes. This gives you an idea of how much value versus hassle the customer sees. Customer behavior follows this automatic benefit-cost analysis.

6) Monitor your motives. If your primary reason for any decision or behavior truly has the customer’s best interest (see #1 and #2 above) at heart, then you’re on-track. On the other hand, if your own gain is the primary reason, with customer’s gain as a secondary reason, then you’re on the wrong track.

7) Borrow ideas from others. Not just competitors, or you’ll only be a me-too company. Be curious and open-minded about how other industries and cultures do things. Learn from them, adapt and experiment, and use what works.

8) Be creative. “There’s this common perception that some people are creative and most aren’t. That’s just not true. As a leader, you want everyone in your organization producing novel and useful ideas. The fact is, all the research in this field shows that anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work.” (from Teresa Amabile, head of Entrepreneurial Management at Harvard Business School)

9) Love complaints. When a customer take the time to share suggestions or vent frustrations, you can bet they’re representative of a larger number of customers that share that sentiment — or soon will, unless an improvement occurs. Better for you to hear it and make the change before your competitors take that revenue stream.

10) Make quarterly — or more frequent — assessments of your policies, processes, skills, motivations, products and services. Assess them from the customer’s viewpoint. Always keep on the lookout for ways to invent great customer experiences.

Note: these tips come from my new e-handbook, Innovating Superior Customer Experience, clearaction.biz/innovation.

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5 Responses to Customer Experience Innovation Involves Everyone

  1. Graham Hill July 11, 2009 at 6:49 am (992 comments) #

    Hi Lynn

    Great post.

    I think the biggest challenge amongst those that you listed is at the beginning: Understanding what customers really want, how they assess what you deliver in return and the resulting service delivery gap. Bain & Co research suggests that although 80% of companies think they deliver a superior customer experience, only 8% of customers agree with them. That is a huge delivery gap.

    Bridging this gap starts with understanding what jobs customers are trying to get done and the outcomes they want from doing them. Only when you really understand what customers want in this way can you methodically create an experience platform where customers can co-create value with the company, and increasingly, with each other.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  2. Lynn Hunsaker July 13, 2009 at 9:46 am (2 comments) #

    Thanks for your comment, Graham. Customer-centricity is proving elusive, as a recent study by CMO Council confirms your statistics. And as you point out, “Jobs to be done” is a relatively new concept that is yet to be adopted by most organizations (manufacturing, services, government, etc.). One of the beauties of “customer jobs” research is discovery of customer-focused metrics that are best for cross-functional synergy. Thanks for the article links in your comment.

    Lynn Hunsaker
    Customer Experience Strategist
    Follow me on Twitter

  3. Ed Gillespie July 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm (22 comments) #

    Many companies are looking to hide complains, or worse, make it challenging for customers to voice their concerns. The idea that firms should LOVE COMPLAINTS is great. Thanks!

  4. Lynn Hunsaker July 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm (96 comments) #

    Thanks for your comment, Ed. One of my favorite quotes is: good news is no news, no news is bad news, bad news is good news. A popular article I wrote about embracing customer complaints is http://customerthink.com/blog/love_those_lemons.

    My ehandbook Customer Experience Improvement Momentum includes some tips for evolving an organization’s culture toward this capability.

  5. Alan J. Zell July 24, 2009 at 7:56 pm (75 comments) #

    Lynn, I agree with your premise that customer experience involves everyone. But everyone does not mean just those who work within the business. It also means vendors, competitiors, and other customers.

    Ask those who do not interface with customers how they affect the business’s customers’ exprerience and they, most likely, will not see how what they do does. And, ask them who the work for and who pays their salary and there’s 95% chance they’ll miss at lease one of those two questions.

    But, there is a hidden aspect to defining what customer experience is and that is what goes on within the business — employees are managment’s customers and visa versa, associates are customers of each other . . . and it is those “customer experience” that has a great influence on the customer experience the business’s customers experience.

    This is called “Internal Selling.” Unfortunately, there seems to be no Sales Managers when it comes to Internatl selling. It is everyone’s task to sell what they want others to do in a way that the internal customer experience is a good as the firm wants their business’s custoemrs to experience.

    Alan

    Alan J. Zell, Ambassador Of Selling, Attitudes for Selling
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