We all know the old adage ‘there’s no need to reinvent the wheel’. However, organisations also know that if they want to continue to compete, meet their customers’ expectations and create a culture that embraces new ways of doing things in order to build thriving business in the long term, they have to keep moving forward. This means embracing and cultivating CX innovation and a refusal to stick with what’s been done before.
We were fortunate to hear how organisations at the Customer Experience Awards 2023 (CXA23) have been able to go beyond ‘tried and tested’ approaches to customer experience and deliver real innovation in their CX practices in order to ensure that customer feedback is truly heard by business leaders.
Innovating by creating connections
Many of those shortlisted demonstrated their ability to embrace CX innovation by refusing to deploy a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to product development, service delivery or user experience. Instead of relying on ‘standard’ Voice of the Customer (VOC) programmes, dashboards and scorecards, they focused on developing bespoke approaches that would create innovative connections to put customers at the heart of the business. For example:
Connecting customers with (trainee) employees: asking those training in a profession to gather consumer perceptions of the product and service provided to help them hear barriers to potential sales and pain points first-hand.
- Connecting customers with product owners: enabling product owners to hear first-hand the pain points and the emotion and language used by customers.
- Connecting customers with developers: creating a customer ideas portal for customers to log ideas and product and service suggestions and have developers review customer priorities for the road map.
- Connecting customers with prototypes: creating an early adopter programme to allow select customers to test and review prototypes before roll-out to the wider customer base.
- Connecting customers with customers: using customer forums to share knowledge and best practice and help on-board new customers with tips and tricks to embed new products and services.
Innovating by going beyond standard CX practices
This more qualitative approach to customer experience is all about enabling front line staff, stakeholders, decision makers and end users hear or see for themselves what customers are saying, what they want, and what their pain points are so that it’s clear what they need help with.
Instead of relying on scores and reports, this more immersive and bespoke approach helps organisations go beyond the numbers (e.g. NPS) to truly understand what good looks like, what is important and where they need to prioritise improvement.
It also encourages customers who may not usually provide feedback, those that prefer to remain ‘silent’ instead of completing an online/SMS survey after every interaction, to engage in a more meaningful and relevant way.
Innovating by trial and error
The key takeaway from CXA 2023 for us, then? Be brave! Look for new, innovative ways to improve the overall customer experience. This might be using voice conversation patterns to establish the degree of ‘listening’ an agent does in real life versus training exercises. Or it could involve bringing in independent experts, with very niche skills, to understand how employee behaviours impact customers.
Beyond VOC, but still critical to improving CX, you might consider introducing an innovative piece of technology into a customer environment, such as air quality monitoring, as one winner did, to provide a different perspective on what impacts customer experience. And, with the ultimate aim of developing a customer centric culture, you could consider exploring gamification to increase employee understanding of CX and really drive home why the ‘customer first’ approach to business must remain top of the agenda.
Of course, not every CX innovation will work. But the very nature of trying and testing something new means that you’re driving CX forward – and it’s only by trying, evolving and adjusting that innovation becomes the new norm.
Written by Paul Kavanagh, Managing Director