Innovate, Redefine the Customer Experience


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To be able to keep with the growing needs of customers, benefit from the opportunities and overcome challenges, you need to move to the next level by being more creative and innovative while making sure the basics are well maintained. You need to be innovative across many pillars that go beyond the 4P’s of Marketing in order to ensure customer centricity.

Innovation is defined as “the application of new solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society.” While this definition takes into account customer and market needs, it does not emphasize on customer centricity – a key differentiator to elevate the down trend of brand advocacy. To ensure customer centricity, your innovative approaches should be Customer Focused.

Creating Customer Focused Innovation requires incorporating customer insights as well as employees’ insights. It also requires that a complex and sophisticated design, is simplified and made transparent in order to allow for effortless and enjoyable customer experience. To utilize Customer Focused Innovation to move your organization from being Product Centric into a Customer Centric organization, you need to mix and match between revamping your internal frameworks, as well as seeking external partnerships where efforts can be joined to prepare the grounds for a redefined customer experience.

Irrespective of the external efforts and partnerships, an internal framework should be put in place to redefine customer experience, while ensuring innovation exists across the pillars of the framework. The framework should satisfy the below objectives:

1. Bring in New Innovative Ideas
2. Always Advance the Core Competencies
3. Evaluate the Going Away products and services
4. Discard Waste

The proposed framework can act as your “Innovation Lab”, which is meant to achieve its objectives across several dimensions: Purpose, Process, People, Product and Platform. Questions should be asked at each dimension of the framework, some of which are:

Innovation Lab FrameworkInnovation Lab Framework

1. Is the Purpose well clarified and meaningful?
2. Is the Process long, drawn out and involves a lot of people?
3. Are our People well identified, and do we know how to work with them and for them? Who are our customers, and how do we organize our teams?
4. What are our Products? How do we make them, and are they customer centric?
5. What are our Platforms? How do we connect what we’re doing with the broader community?

By answering these questions, you should be able to start identifying your pain areas and trigger innovative ideas in order to walk out with clear needs, automated processes, loyal customer and employees, innovative and customer centered products, and integrated and digital platforms.

However, building this framework and answering its questions will not be useful by itself, as you are still missing the Voice of Customer. Listening to your customers and understanding their suggestions will equip you with tons of ideas that could be mapped to your framework.

An “Idea Generation Process” needs to be put in place in order to trigger Customer Focused Innovation. The input can be collected from both internal and external sources (customers and employees). As an organization, you can then incubate and sponsor ideas relevant to your strategy in order to execute it, where a positive impact is anticipated on your customers.

Great examples of idea collection are Innovation Forums. Starbucks, which I believe is a monumental customer centric organization, has put in place an idea generation web forum under the name of “My Starbucks Idea”. The collected ideas are broken down into Product ideas, Involvement ideas and Experience ideas, where in turn each one of these is broken down by relevancy.

External partnerships can also act as drivers for moving organizations more towards customer focused innovation. Joint Ventures can be beneficial in reshaping the offerings to customers by capitalizing on the specialty of each player. An example would be the partnerships developed between Mobile operators, handset manufactures and OTT providers. Another good example would be between big companies and startups. Such type of partnerships offers startups with credibility, distribution, PR and branding. On the other hand, it offers big companies with speed, phased big goals, and innovation.

An enabler for partnerships between startups and venture capitalists is the tendency of both to invest with the same objectives in mind. This is illustrated in a Deloitte study of nearly 350 firms and projects across 8 VCs and start-up incubators, which shows that 89% of the companies included a mobile dimension, and 26% built their strategy on mobile, showing that a mutual interest really exists.

It is also worth noting that being customer centric means that your innovative approaches do not stop with providing the product. It becomes more challenging to maintain the satisfaction with the product. You should be aware that your organization should be capable of offering care solutions and at the same time minimize the customer efforts. “Innovative Digitization” has played a huge role in driving higher customer satisfaction and less customer effort across the care channels.

Innovate, but make sure that your innovation is customer focused and that it redefines your Customers’ Experience.

Mohamad El-Hinnawi, CCXP
Conred CX
Mohamad El-Hinnawi, CCXP is a Customer Experience Management Advisor and Consultant, focusing on research, development, training and delivery of Customer Experience Management Frameworks.


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