Archive for: February, 2011

Empathy drives experience innovation

The Walt Disney Company

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Recently I was in Mexico to have lunch with a friend. I went to pick him up from from a meeting but had to wait a few minutes outside of his offices. As I was waiting for him I parked in front of a pharmacy and it dawned on me that in this particular area there where five pharmacies in about a half mile radius. These pharmacies all looked alike, they were not from the same brand and the only distinction was the color of their walls. I have no doubt they operate the same way. It got me thinking about how I could differentiate one from the others…

Experience innovation is a difference maker

Innovating an experience improves or reinvents the customer experience in the purchase or usage of a product or service. Companies such as Disney stand out as a prime example of what it means to innovate a customer experience. Apple is right there too with their Apple store. The reason both stand out is because they’ve , says Scott Gould.

Another great example of a company that stands out is Umpqua. We all know what a traditional bank looks like, well :

Umpqua’s 15-year track record of growth has little to do with the products it markets, which are virtually identical to the products offered by other banks. What’s distinctive about Umpqua has to do with how it offers those products — its commitment to reimagining the experience of interacting with a bank. Davis puts is this way: “If you took a person, blindfolded them, sent them to a bank, and took the blindfold off, 99% percent of them would say, ‘I’m in some bank somewhere.’ We want our customers to say, ‘I’m in an Umpqua bank.’ We don’t want the experience of banking here to feel like banking anywhere else.”

That’s why Umpqua designs its branches to appeal to all five human senses.

What Umpqua understands it that to be and stay relevant, you have to be different in every sense of the word. Not just ‘be different’ as marketing ploy, but ‘do different’ and make a difference. In the video below, Fast Company Co-founder, Bill Taylor starts talking about Umpqua around the 9 minute mark to help clarify my point (watch the whole talk, it’s worth it):

See what I mean?

What Not to be

Slice Perfect is another fine example. They’re not your typical pizza place. Just like Umpqua they started by asking ‘’. The result is a different kind of pizza place that goes deeper than just looks. When searching for a sustainable competitive advantage, experiences are the hardest to copy. No experience is the same. How many have tried to copy Disney and failed? Starbucks?

The Killer App of Trust

Trust is an often overlooked competitive advantage. The Ritz Carlton knows this very well and have been creating trust with it customers for a long long time. They understand than . This means that that by creating a level of trust between a companies employees and it’s customers, authentic value in the form of better service can be delivered. That’s not manufactured value, it’s real authentic. Zappos also understands that by empowering employees to develop their own customer relationship breakthroughs it makes the customer experience more authentic. The result is more trust with customers.

Experience innovation is also difficult to accomplish. Jeffrey Phillips of OVO Innovation says:

Customer experience innovation requires understanding what customers value in the “touch points” and interactions with your products, services and your firm, and placing the right investments on the most important and valuable touch points.  Customer experience needs to consider each “channel” a customer may use to interact with your firm:  retail locations, telephone, web, email, direct mail, advertising, etc.  The total customer experience cuts across a number of vertical silos within many organizations, including sales, marketing, products and customer support and service.

Authenticity is the result of human innovation

If you’re familiar with the Experience Economy, then all of the above is nothing new. But if you’re not, in the video below Joseph Pine talks about how customers really want an authentic experience:

So how do you start thinking about innovating your own experience?

Remember the What Works Matrix? Here’s the time to use it. I’ve already given you some examples of companies that have distinct customer experiences, you can pick them apart for ideas. You can then .

wrote a great presentation of the 4 practical steps he took to create . You can use the customer experience cycle map to look at where a ‘shake up’ might come useful to deliver a better experience to the customer. Once you identify those critical touch points you have your challenge that needs to be addressed, it’s time to go to the What Works Matrix and start searching for alternatives that you can the bring over and implement yourself.

Though going through these steps will not result in instant results, it’s an exercise in opening your mind on how your customers experience you. Once your mind is open you’ll be a lot more concerned about your customer experience and start thinking up ideas in no time.

Remember: Empathy drives experience innovation

Break out of orbit!

Disney, Apple, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks all provide a distinct experience when compared with the ‘old way’ of doing things. If you sell commodities (like Starbucks) you can change how your customers purchase or use your products or services to create a distinct customer experience.

The point is to understand this. Ask yourself: What don’t you want to be? Do you want to be like your competitors?

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Innovation posts of the week: Finding the voice of the customer

In case you missed them here are this weeks best readings. And as always from innovation experts themselves 😉

Innovation — the New Two-way Play – Knowledge@Wharton

Using HR strategically for Innovation by @dscofield

Four Principles for Crafting Your Innovation Strategy – Technology Review

Finding the Voice of the Customer with Jose Briones via @brioneja

5 Steps to Success in Customer Innovation Programs – Outside Innovation

Innovation Ain’t So Easy Mr. President – Think Google, Not GE by @adam_hartung

Adoption barriers and other reasons innovative ideas fail by @ovoinnovation

Innovations Best Kept Secret by @mikemyatt

Why Are some Incremental Innovations Considered Game Changers? by @davidaaker

How 3M Gave Everyone Days Off and Created an Innovation Dynamo – Co.Design

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Unlocking your creativity to fulfill your personal vision

I love this! Talk about freeing your mind, here’s a high powered conversation you don’t want to miss…

Alex Bogusky, formerly of Crispin Porter+Bogusky, has a weekly web show where he talks to all sorts of people who are making a difference. This week’s episode is called, Unlocking Your Personal Vision. This episode features a conversation with the team behind UFUSE – a company that helps individuals and companies unlock their vision and creativity. This one hour conversation is especially of interest, because Alex actually spent a week with them pushing his own vision and creativity to new heights.

The recipe for unlocking your personal vision: Genesis + Knowing why you’re doing it + staying with it.

Here are some ideas that were discussed:

Take a vacation and figure out what your vision is

  • . Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down the things that are important to you. Take your time and get it all out. Think about it as the starting point of a vacation to figure out what your vision is.
  • Have courage. . Whereas creative decisions require courage, making fear based decisions that always lead to conventional paths as outcomes is what we always do. Break the pattern!
  • If you don’t like it, stop doing it. . It’s a terrible propositions because sometimes you just have to roll with the punches but if you’re really unhappy just stop doing it.
  • Tell people what you would like to work on. If you don’t like the projects that you’re being tasked with, tell them them the types of things that you really want to work on. Sometimes speaking helps not only you but others too. Other people have dislikes too, and in an effort to conform we don’t say what they are. Speak up!
  • If you’re working on fixing something that pisses you off, you’re in the right place. What are you dissatisfied with? What do you think sucks and can be done better? Can you feel how your soul gets filled with purpose when thinking about it? This is a good place to start.
  • No matter how good it is, it can always get better. If you’re perfectly happy with how things are going already, why not make it better? Get out of your comfort zone.

It’s an hour long but I guarantee it’s well worth your time Winking smile

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