Many innovations fail. In fact some research suggests that nearly 80% of innovations do not deliver as expected. This maybe because innovations are not strongly aligned with what really matters to customers.
One solution is to link customer experience (CX) with innovation for a more cohesive strategic alignment.
CX is sometimes confused with customer service or support, but this is only one part of the customer journey. CX is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services over the duration of their relationship. A strong CX strategy looks at the whole customer journey, identifies what really matters to their customers, and then creates the ideal experiences that will have the highest impact on sentiment and behaviours. (See my previous post on moments of truth).
Innovation is a new idea, product, device, service or process. At its simplest it is about change, be it continuous incremental improvements to existing products and services or breakthrough innovations that open new markets.
CX driven innovation links these innovations, whether incremental or brand new market offers, with the ideal experiences customers seek along their journey.
Wondering if you should adopt a CX innovation strategy?
Here's some food for thought
Ideal experiences aren't a constant - customer values are shifting all the time
"The only thing that is constant is change," said The Greek philosopher Heraclitus. If you need any persuasion on this just consider how fast technology has disrupted our normal behaviours and how our needs and aspirations have shifted accordingly. Look at what Amazon, and the Kindle, has done to book shops and how we read? What has Apple done to our perceptions of the BlackBerry experience? Do you miss XtraVision? Or even remember it because you've been using Netflix for so long now?
How people spend has shifted.
Many shoppers are not as passive as they used to be. They will actively review and compare products and services, particularly when the experience is not distinct enough, like car insurance or home utilities. Consumers know what they want and they will switch providers to get it. A CX Survey conducted by Accenture in 2013 found that "Customers' determination to obtain the right experience has created a vast "switching economy" that was potentially worth $400 billion in 2013."
The conversation has changed
Social media has changed how we communicate. Consumers share insights, generate reviews (Trip Adviser, Amazon), validate prices (compare.com) and sometimes even name their price (eBay). And they're not just sharing with their family and friends, they're sharing with their global social network. These conversations are intrinsically linked with brand messages. There is now a higher expectation than ever before to be treated as the "expert" on our own experience. Organisations can no longer afford to push offers on customers or try to inform them of their satisfaction.
Yes, I know that Henry Ford famously said "If I asked people what they wanted they'd have asked for faster horses." I'm not suggesting here that organisations blindly react to what customers ask for. I'm suggesting listening, observing and interacting so that they get insight into customers' anxieties, dreams and aspirations and innovate accordingly. Henry Ford focused on faster - the aspiration of faster transportation and mobility - and created a whole new experience to fill that gap.
There is a high expectation of involvement
Having a sense of belonging is an innate human desire and strong bonds can grow by making people feel seen, heard and valued and there is now a higher expectation to be involved in the decision-making process. CX driven innovation gives organisations a mechanism to create an experience of involvement and ownership. The key is that people genuinely experience being heard and valued. When a new product, service or support experience reflects the spoken or unspoken anxieties or aspirations of customers that is one way of doing this.
Involving customers in the innovation process entails a host of new concerns and managerial decisions. Transitioning from older models of no or low customer involvement requires attention to the different types of customer innovation, organizational structure and strategy. However, ensuring that innovations are based on sound customer insight that deliver the experiences that really matter are far more likely to succeed.
Remember - it's all about the experience stupid!
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