Key Ingredient for CX Innovation: Love

How can you create value for your customers and your organization? Innovate around your customer experience. Here are some examples of different ways to uncover CX innovation ideas:

Look for opportunities to add value around customer lifecycle events.

  • Sovereign Assurance NZ’s research showed that many new parents don’t have the time to review their life insurance, but after having a new baby, it’s more important than ever to have some life insurance. The company developed a program called “Choose Precious” that offers new parents $10,000 free life insurance up until their baby’s first birthday. New parents just need to register at chooseprecious.co.nz before their baby is six‐months old. The company also rolled out its “Breathing Space” offering. Recognizing that buying a home is a big deal and that it’s difficult to get the attention of home buyers, the company offered them $25,000 free life cover for 90 days to provide interim protection until they have the time to consider their longer term protection needs.

Think about your customer’s journey before and after they interact with you.

  • If a USAA member calls in to change his address, the reps are trained to understand why and deal with bigger issues. For example, if the call is from a soldier who is about to be deployed, then the rep might check to see if the member has thought about items such as a will, power of attorney, and life insurance. The USAA employee might even put a hold on the member’s car insurance, so the soldier doesn’t have to pay for an unused car while he’s deployed.

Identify problems related to how customers use your product, even if they’re not issues with your product.

  • An insight into how people take medication helped Walgreens roll out a system called GlowCaps, which puts a glowing cap on pill bottles. It lights up when the bottle isn’t opened at the right time, then gives an auditory warning, then triggers an automatic phone call to remind the patient. It can also send reports to the patient’s doctors and remind the patient when it’s time to refill.

Use analytics to predict next steps and proactively help customers.

  • Sprint uses a technique called Next Call Prevention. Here’s how it’s described in a 1to1 Blog: “Regardless of why a customer calls the telecom’s contact center, a customer service agent can offer to help with something else that the customer might call about in the near future–based on prompts queued from predictive analytics. If, for instance, someone whose contract is about to expire calls about a billing question, once the issue is resolved the agent could offer to arrange an upgrade to a new handset. This not only delivers a better customer experience, it also reduces costs and potentially increases sales and retention.”

Solicit ideas from employees, especially those who interact with customers.

  • Telus created a platform for internal collaboration and idea exchange called “Habitat Social,” which combines micro-blogging (“Buzz”), blogging, video sharing (“Habitat Video”), personal profile pages, and a virtual world environment. The platform brings together a mix of employee-created content that supports learning efforts, company culture, and employee experience. Within Habitat Social, team members also engage in company-wide conversations about customer issues, share ideas and best practices, and identify ways to delight customers by delivering on the company’s Customers First promise.

Examine how customers actually behave.

  • Supermarket chain Ralphs installed technology called QueVision, which uses infrared cameras to measure foot traffic in its markets. The system tracks body heat  to figure out how many customers are shopping at any given time. This information helps managers cut down on lines by redeploying workers to the cash registers when things get busy. The technology has trimmed the average time it takes to get to the front of the line to roughly 30 seconds from the national average of four minutes.

Look at experiences through the eyes of specific customers.

  • CVS uses a technology called AGNES (developed by the MIT AgeLab) which stands for stands for “Age Gain Now Empathy System.” It’s a jumpsuit that allows the person wearing it to feel what it’s like to be in your mid-70s. Bungee cords anchored to the helmet and hip restrict movement and rotation of the spine, and elastic bands from hip to wrist reduce shoulder mobility. Based on what it learned form AGNES, CVS will be making store design changes such as putting carpeting on the floors in stores to reduce slick-floor slipping and adjusting the height of checkout counters to require less bending and lifting.

No matter what approach you use to spot CX innovation ideas, it’s important that you nurture them along the way. Here are the steps that I recommend you follow to raise the likelihood of success: Who/Want/Love/Fit/Test.

  • CXInnovation3 140bWho: Have a clear picture of the exact type of person you are focusing on with your innovation effort. Without this clarity, you may end up making decision that compromise the ultimate experience. Design personas can be a very useful tool in this stage.
  • Want. The innovation should meet some unmet need, whether the customer knows he or she has it or not. To make sure you’ve found something real, articulate what the customer wants by completing these types of sentences: “I would really like to…”
  • Love. As you develop different options and prototypes, identify specific elements of the experience that you think the target customers will absolutely love. Complete statements like this, “Our customer will love…” You will need to deliver on these elements in order to help drive adoption.
  • Fit. Just because customers want something doesn’t make it a good thing to do. Only move ahead with options that fit with your business. How can you tell? Pick the efforts where you can say “yes” to all of the following questions: 1) Can you deliver it consistently? 2) Does it make financial sense? 3) Can you outperform the competition? 4) Is it consistent with your brand?
  • Test. I can’t urge you enough to prototype as early and as often as possible. This allows you to crystalize your thinking and incorporate feedback along the way. But the key thing to test for is the love. Make sure that your target customers don’t just like what they see, but they love at least parts of it. Keep iterating until you find the love. Sometimes it just takes a few little things.

The bottom line: Make sure there’s love in your CX innovations

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This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Blog Carnival “Celebrating Customer Experience.” It is part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day. Check out posts from other bloggers here.

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

One Response to Key Ingredient for CX Innovation: Love

  1. Kelly Berenbaum says:

    I think USAA deserves even more credit for their recent offer “USAA Offers No-Interest Loan to Military Members if Government Delays Pay”. That’s impressive!

    This quote sums it up:

    “We all hope that policymakers will reach a deal before military pay is threatened,” says David Bohne, president of USAA Bank. “But we stand ready to help our members who would be impacted if that happens.”

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