Every business wants to keep its customers happy. But little attention is given to finding new ways to improve customer experience, says Denise Lee Yohn, writing for Forbes.
Innovation programmes to develop products or optimise operations are commonplace, but with significant positive knock-on effects attached to good customer experience – or CX – it should be given equal billing, she says.
Not only can it build loyalty to your brand, but it can also improve employee satisfaction, boost your income by up to 10%, and cut your expenditure by up to 25%, according to a McKinsey study.
Yohn says that, because of its very different focus, initiatives to innovate in CX must be a “deliberate, distinct, disciplined effort” to examine the customer and their engagement with the business.
She suggests these three key strategies to get your CX programme underway:
1) Set up a dedicated lab. Your mission is to develop a fertile testing ground for customer experience innovation. The first thing to decide is where to put it, depending on how your company functions. Do you want it to be separate from the rest of your organisation, or closely linked with other innovation programmes?
Often the initiator will take ownership of the project. Yohn quotes retailer Neiman Marcus, whose successful grassroots iLab for CX innovation was started by the head of IT and located in his department. Gathering ideas and opinions from anyone in the business who could gain an insight, it operated with the clear aims of either solving customer problems or strengthening the relationship with customers.
“Their efforts spawned a CX innovation called ‘Memory Mirror’, which allowed shoppers to get a 360-degree real-time video as they tried on clothes to share with friends. Now the ‘Memory Makeover’ allows shoppers to get a video of their makeup application that they can later reference at home or next time when they are shopping.”
2) Encourage a CX mindset. Beyond your innovation lab, it’s important to engage everyone in the company in the basics of customer experience – knowing who your customers are and what they want – and build their skills through training. Bose held a multi-session CX Bootcamp; O2’s education programme was based on “Customer Led, Mobile First”.
3) Get everyone on board. Once your CX innovation hub is established, create a formal system for the sharing of ideas and observations so that everyone in your organisation can contribute. Those who are in close touch with customer perspectives will have a lot to offer.
Yohn cites South African satellite TV service MultiChoice and its #ninetynine campaign which invited all employees to offer solutions to any of the 99 customer difficulties or “pain points” posed via its intranet, with enthusiastic response.
Boosting customer-experience innovation in your organisation isn’t going to happen by itself. An initial concentrated effort following Yohn’s three-point plan will help you establish a promising new CX culture.