by: Idris Mootee
There is no question about the value of creating engaging consumers is key to brands that wish to thrive in the "experience economy". There's yet to have any common definition to what extent CX Innovation goes beyond digital interface design and expanding its boundaries to "experiential marketing" or opening up new competitive space in "service design".
One big challenge in designing memorable customer experience is that experience is an intangible quality that is so different from one person to the next. Experiences are built around feelings, smells, emotions, memories, colors, places, sounds, faces, branding and hundreds other factors, and time. A great experience is created - yes created, because it doesn't happen by accident (ok sometimes it does) - and it is not only the result of better product features and functions or better services but because of how it makes people feel or help them to their jobs done. A cafe creates the right mood; a great gadget makes you feel connected; a great bookstore invites you to stay for hours, and makes you comfortable doing it; a great retail store makes you feel at home; a great brand becomes part of your own social-self or collective-self. All of these happen on purpose. Well at least through accidental discovery and purposeful improvisations.
To design innovative customer experiences you have to learn to see the world with different lens, to understand the customer's unique perspective, because experience is the interaction between a customer and the designed environment (real or virtual or probably some form of hybrid). Many of the factors that matter most are intangible, and the very first thing on this list is trust. Do your customers trust you? If they do, it is not by telling them in an ad campaign that you can be trusted. My friend Gurval Caer (CEO of Blast Radius) for years has been a total believer in customer "trust" and in fact turned himself into an evangelist in front our clients.
Trust needs to come from not only customer communities, but also from your employees and management. The sad truth is that most companies aren't giving their employees any tools for building trust, or providing online/offline tools to allow the customer communities to do that. Or simply "trust" is not embedded in the design of their business model or customer interactions.
The evolution of social networks (this is not a trend that will go away) offers some great opportunities for companies that want to build enduring, trusting relationships. CRM is a pretty silly idea that is based on the notion that customers want to have a relationships with companies. They mix up the difference between a "transactional relationship" with a "customer relationship". Most customer simply do not want a relationship with a corporation, they only welcome relationships with those other customers with share their interest and passion. Apple sends me e-mails about their special offerings. I don't consider that's part of the relationships. I do have a strong affinity with the Apple brand, and more so with the iconic Steve Jobs. But my relationships exist between me and other users. I use this example because Apple is unarguably one of most admired brand in the world, but imagine for others?
In my view, customer experience innovation must be designed to fit within the framework of an entire business model, which I define it as a set of critical product/services, brand, relationships and interactions that define how a business fits into the larger market context. Can you give me your thoughts?