Inspiration Innovation from the Customer Experience
There’s certainly nothing new about focusing on the customer experience to differentiate a business.
Over the past decades, brands have rocketed to iconic status by doing just that. Think Starbucks, Neiman Marcus, Southwest Airlines. Customers buy based on their personal experience. During an actual purchase, they start to form their first impression of the product, the company, and the brand. This is where customer loyalty begins and, if all goes well, where it gains strength. That’s the value proposition. But how do you make it happen? Quite simply, by sensing what your customers tell you in every channel; interpreting what that means; deciding how to respond-then acting upon that decision. This ability to sense, interpret, decide, and act, is itself, a valuable innovation (or capability) in any organization. Years ago, small
“mom and pop” enterprises-merchants like the local butcher or your grandfather’s tailor-forged lasting ties with their customers. They had the ability to quickly and continually gather information about their patrons, due in large part to the personal relationships they cemented with them over the years. They could sense their customers’ needs; understood their shopping patterns and buying history; and were keenly attuned to their individual preferences regarding products, styles and services. Personal service was a given-and everybody knew your name.In today’s extended enterprises, achieving that same level of service-what brand marketers refer to as “emotional lock-in”-is especially challenging when an organization is dealing with tens of thousands sometimes millions-of customers. The pressure is heightened by consumers’ newly empowered ability to select how and when they want to patronize an organization. Though multiple channels are at their disposal-the Web, kiosks, standard mailings, the call center and ATMs, as well as traditional “brick and mortar” establishments, today’s customers nonetheless count on a single, unified brand experience.
To fulfill their expectations in a growing, increasingly Web-based marketplace calls for a commitment that reaches well beyond your Web site and deep into the enterprise. It means tying marketing to operations. . .finance to customer service. . .and market research to sales. It also calls for the adoption of two new attitudes within the organization -one absolutely committed to listening to the customer, the other dedicated to continuous learning.
It’s on these abilities the successes of most innovations lie. Without a way to implement the innovation from within the organization, its full value can’t be realized. So, as you innovate, turn some of your attention and effort to making your ideas take hold inside the organziation.