20 Critical Thinking Keys to Customer Experience Excellence


Share on LinkedIn

Developing our creative potential will strengthen our ability to cope with the daily change that is required for customer experience excellence.

Almost any organization can create exceptional customer service experiences. One of the greatest challenges of developing winning customer experiences isn’t always getting results, but taking the initial step of breaking out of the current rut that has created sub-optimal service interactions for customers.

Tony Ryan’s Thinker’s Keys (1990) provide a framework for professionals to use simple brainstorming to start down the path of changing experiences. These exercises can be used as a mechanism to counteract or discourage such phenomena as: Bounded Rationality, Cognitive Bias and Groupthink and helps to break the chain of poor performance, opening the mind to the possibilities that come about with change.

The Thinker’s Keys Guide to Customer Experience Change

The framework includes the following thought exercises:

  1. The REVERSE Key – Name 10 things you cannot do right now because of poor customer experience.
  2. The WHAT IF Key – What if current service experience stopped shining?
  3. The DISADVANTAGES Key – List disadvantages of your service process, and then brainstorm various ways of correcting or eliminating the disadvantages.
  4. The COMBINATION Key – List attributes of two dissimilar service experiences in your industry, then combine the attributes into a single object.
  5. The BAR Key – Make service goals bigger, add something to it, what would you consider an outrageous goal?
  6. The ALPHABET Key – Compile a list of words your customers use to describe you? List them A to Z.
  7. The VARIATIONS Key – How many ways can you personally interact with your customers.
  8. The PICTURE Key – Draw a simple diagram of how customers get service.
  9. The PREDICTION Key – Predict what your service process will be like in 10 years or what it will be like with 100x customer base.
  10. The DIFFERENT USES Key – Find 10 uses for CRM in your organization.
  11. The RIDICULOUS Key – Try to justify a 2x cost increase in customer experience investment.
  12. The COMMONALITY Key – Find common points between your service experience and business results.
  13. The QUESTION Key – Suppose investing in CX is the answer, list five questions that give only that answer.
  14. The BRAINSTORMING KeyBad customer service is a problem that needs to be solved. Brainstorm a list of practical or creative solutions.
  15. The INVENTIONS Key – Design a machine to help automate customer relationship management.
  16. The BRICK WALL Key – Make a statement on customer service which could not generally be questioned, then try to “break down the wall” by outlining alternatives of dealing with the situation.
  17. The CONSTRUCTION Key – Construct a new customer service process and list requirements.
  18. The FORCED RELATIONSHIPS Key – List how to innovate in customer service by A …, Then how to do it by B.
  19. The ALTERNATIVE Key – Work out 3 ways to improve service without additional $ investment.
  20. The INTERPRETATION Key – Give 3 possible or unusual explanations for current service ratings/scores.

The 20 Thinker’s Keys place emphasis upon the development of innovative and creative thinking. Creative thinking can be exciting and enjoyable. This active participation can then create a positive attitude towards the learning process. The stimulation of creativity in learning heightens the emotional link with that learning. Emotional involvement boosts the effectiveness of our memory systems.

Breaking the chain of poor performance requires changing the way we think about experience and the service delivered to customers. Breaking the chain of past performance is the first step towards taking positive action that will change what customers experience and enable organizations to deliver exceptional experiences.

Developing our creative potential will strengthen our ability to cope with change. When our thinking is opened and accepting of new ideas, we become more capable of adapting to these changing circumstances.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Flavio Martins
Flavio Martins is the VP of Operations and Customer Support at DigiCert, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise authentication services and high-assurance SSL certificates trusted by thousands of government, education, and Fortune 500 organizations. Flavio is an award-winning customer service blogger, customer service fanatic, and on a mission to show that organizations can use customer experience as a competitive advantage win customer loyalty. Blog: Win the Customer!


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here