Creating beautiful experiences for your customers is more than a purely physical attraction. To create experiences that work well for your business and for your customers, it is important to ensure that every element of them is choreographed to ensure your customers can do what they want when they want, where they want, how they want. If you are wondering where to start with amazing experiences, I hope this article will be useful to you.
It's never been more relevant than now, to say that everything needs to start with a strategy. Companies we work with take different approaches to build their big picture strategies, with some choosing to hire the big consulting practices, others (some very large organisations), decide to develop their own strategies, and some hire people like us to help. Whichever approach you decide to take, it is critical that you step outside the everyday operational issues, politics and processes to allow you to think big, think differently and think objectively.
Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I am a big believer in the power of research, but you will also know that I do not believe research has all the answers. Before making decisions about anything, think with your head, then feel with your heart, and think with your head again.
Start building your strategy by investing up front and exposing yourself and your team to:
Global Best Practice
In experiences, people, technology and processes - understand who does it well and why?
The Latest Innovations
Who is breaking the mould?
What's on the horizon and how do you include this in your plans (if it is right), and future-proof your business?
Who are they, who are your targets, how do they behave, and how will they behave?
What works in your current portfolio and why? What does not work and why?
Who are the leaders and laggards and what are they doing to move things forward
Global leaders in all sectors
Don’t just look at your sector, look at others. Visit interesting companies to understand how they work and what makes them successful
Examine the disruptors in all sectors and understand the way they think
Lessons from the Past
Learn lessons from the past. History is littered with winners and losers. Ask what makes a winner and what makes a loser?
How are companies using technology to build nature, human-centred experiences
Speak to experts
Do not be afraid to ask people who have done this before. If this means hiring a consultant, or meeting with representatives of other companies, do so
Understand customer journeys
Successful companies constantly evolve their customer and employee journeys, look and how others deliver to their customer journey plan, look at journeys in your business to understand where pain points are
Once you have gathered this information, collate it into a format that is easy to understand. My experience is that there is nothing like a long PowerPoint presentation to kill enthusiasm and stifle creativity, avoid turgid long, sleep-inducing presentations and present findings in a way that is fun, interesting and exciting - use video, images and graphics. Identify what works and what does not from what you have discovered... because it is this information that will feed your creativity.
Only once you have a detailed understanding of where you are, where you want to be and the possible tools (both now and in the future), that you can use to get there will you be prepared to begin to create. Moving the strategic process from the head to the heart.
Building amazing strategies and experiences requires creative thinkers who understand business. These are a special breed of people so choose who works with you wisely. Be sure to include cross-functional representation in all conversations, surround yourself with energy givers, not energy takers. Choose those who are prepared to open their minds to possibilities, exploring everything possible angle.
The best analogy I can give for the journey you are undertaking is to imagine it like being an 'explosion in reverse'. Start with everything, then structure and prioritise your assessment of ideas based on your current situation, where you want your business to go, what you have learnt and on removing pain points from your customer and employee journeys.
In my last article, I mentioned the rule of 10 into 1. Follow this and push yourself to think differently. Remember that the first idea may not be the best.
The Head - Part Two
At the end of the previous stage, you will discover that you have many, many ideas - some of which will be winners, some of which will be part of your future plans and some of which will be held for now.
Refine and prioritise the ideas based on the framework developed in the Heart Stage and work with your teams to decide on the roadmap for delivering these.
Thinking holistically and strategically about customer experiences is the only way to build a winning formula and following this simple process will give you the tools and information you need to constantly assess, prioritise and deliver outstanding.
Nicholas Griffin is an experienced businessman and designer who has passion for helping brands develop engaging customer experiences and transform commercially. He has been a resident of Dubai, UAE, for over 10 years from where he is Global Strategy Director for I-AM (www.i-amonline.com), one of the worlds leading independent customer experience design agencies.
Nicholas has over 25 years of experience in strategic brand, retail, digital and culture transformation which has seen him serve financial services and other brands across the world. More recently, these include ADIB, Riyad Bank, Bank ABC, Unaitas, Kuwait Finance House, EmiratesNBD, China Bank, Byblos Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, RHB, UBL, Bank AlFalah and First Bank.
He began his career working in the United States with General Electric before moving to London and working with leading design agency Seymour Powell (SP). After his tenure at SP, Nicholas formed his own agency in London, who served brands like Nike, Adidas, Orange, Panasonic, Hasbro, Casio, Barclays, RBS, BP and Vodafone.
In 1999, Nicholas built an online health food retailer which, along with his agency, were sold in 2002. Nicholas went on to work as a senior level consultant, for large corporations, helping them to solve complex brand and business challenges and deliver innovation in customer experience. In 2004, Nicholas moved to the Middle East to work for Private Institutional Investors, The Chandler Group where his role was wide spread, from branding and communications through to social investment and private office management. Thereafter, he ran WPP’s Brand Union in the Middle East before joining allen international and running their business in Middle East, Africa and Asia.
An avid and passionate writer, Nicholas has an audience of over 15,000 banking and customer experience professionals who engage with his blog www.passionbrand.net on a regular basis.
Nicholas has a BA(Hons) in 3-Dimensional Design from Manchester Metropolitan University