Why we're all taking a wrongheaded approach to customer experience innovationby
I want to bring up an interesting example of customer experience innovation that has been discussed (but not directly) in recent weeks. It’s a little bit nuanced, so bear with me. (BTW, the overall idea of “customer experience innovation” is obviously very far-reaching, and numerous books have been written on it. This is just about one aspect.)
Cannes Lions recently took place; it’s a giant celebration of advertising, art, culture, media, customers, etc. AdAge has an interesting review of what’s been happening so far. They frame it up as “Mad Men” — think the TV show — vs. “Math Men”.
This means sleek and beautiful (the old Madison Avenue approach to advertising) vs. data-driven and targeted. Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive. Something can be beautiful as an ad and also well-targeted, or ugly and poorly-targeted. Both have happened.
This paragraph is interesting:
The shift toward person-based targeting is naturally where the conversation at Cannes Lions will go in the years ahead as the industry wakes up to the extraordinary possibilities inherent in connecting truly relevant, rich creative experiences to the customer at the precise moment when the customer actually needs to buy or expresses interest in a product or service.
It’s an approach built on customer identity and recognising customers across all touch points, and while it only fits subliminally into the Cannes conversation here and now, you can’t have a conversation about data targeting in real time without identity being part of it.
In that paragraph, the idea of “person-based targeting” is framed up as opposed to “reach,” i.e. impressions. “Reach” is what a lot of marketing teams go for because the numbers tend to be bigger, which can come off better. It’s the wrong approach, though. You do want to target. Mobile and digital make that more possible.
But the more interesting part of the paragraph, to me is about “truly relevant, rich creative experiences” and “recognising customers across all touch points.”
And now here comes the nuance.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE INNOVATION IN … THE MOMENT OF DELIVERY?
We spend a lot of time around customer experience with our creative, and designing road maps/journeys. We talk often about process and touch points. But maybe the answer is even simpler than that.
I first thought about this a few weeks ago when I had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Olson, the SVP of Member Experience at Peloton (the in-home bike company.) He told me that the first major pain point he had to tackle was delivery. Yes, delivery.
Third-party logistics providers did the delivery, and used contractors — meaning the delivery experience was variable. They didn’t end any contracts with third-party logistics, but they structured new agreements where the incentives of the logistics provider were aligned with the needs of Peloton.
They’re also investing in their own delivery networks, i.e. a field operations team in markets where they have the most scale. “That’s been a game-changer for our member experience,” he admitted to me.
This is all crucial for member experience because the most intimate place you can meet a customer/member is their home. In fact, the first thing a Peloton field service team member is supposed to ask is “Should I take off my shoes?” It’s a simple question, but it shows that Peloton cares/respects members.
ANOTHER DELIVERY EXAMPLE
Then the other week, I talked to Jackie McAtee, the VP of Marketing and Customer Experience at Mayfair. They co-created a clinic with physician and patient feedback, and one of the first decisions they had to map out was arrival. Arrival for a patient is the equivalent of delivery of a bike. Ultimately, they created a stand-up pod for initial receptionists to increase flexibility and patient engagement. They also worked on the patient lounges.
MAYBE “CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE INNOVATION” DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SOME BIG MEETING
When you hear a term like “customer experience innovation”, you probably think about a few executives and their lieutenants going to some big off-site meeting and brainstorming how they’re going to be innovative in their approach to customers. There will be lots of slide decks and chart paper. They’ll come back renewed in their approach. This is often how we contemplate it.
But what if it’s simpler? What if it’s truly about finding that first touch point — delivery, arrival, etc. — and making sure that’s as special as possible?
After all, we all know the power of first impressions.
Simplicity in business should be the goal. (Kill A Stupid Rule, remember?) So instead of potentially over-complicating your customer experience innovation with meetings and off-sites, why not just focus on beautifying the simple early touch points?