How to get past the innovation conundrum

The drive towards innovation can result in a prickly situation for many customer experience (CX) leaders. The clients I’m talking to are increasingly giving voice to a consistent problem:

“I’m under pressure to make a meaningful change – but I’m on the hook for today’s results too. I’m struggling to do both.”

Meanwhile, as most industries are experiencing some satisfying returns, this advice from Forrester nicely summarizes the risks – and the challenges – that CX teams face:

“It will be a year of reckoning for those that have held on too long or tried to bootstrap their way through transforming their business. Simply put, the distance between customer expectations and the reality on the ground is becoming so great that a slow and gradual transition is no longer possible. Incrementalism may feel good, but it masks the quiet deterioration of the business.”

There are some great stories of innovation that have led to sizable improvements in CX – and ultimately, revenue. When TUI Group added video to their booking experience, for example, they found that customers were three to four times more likely to complete the transaction.

Their marketing director described this enhancement as helping people “experience a holiday before they book. You can test drive a car, but you can’t test a holiday before purchasing. We want to change that.” That’s taking a hard look at opportunity gaps in the customer journey.

Where to start?

I agree that now is not the time to relax into your healthy margins. Not if you want to stay ahead of the chasing pack. But it’s true that it can be hard to make a significant change while focusing on keeping things running smoothly today. But where to start?

While it’s different for every business, this article from McKinsey is as good an approach as any I have seen regarding how to map, plan and execute on a customer experience plan that will deliver bottom-line value. Here’s one recommendation:

“First, focus innovation resources either on important customer-experience journeys where you have a large gap against competitors or on reasonably important journeys where the gap is narrow or unclear.”

Whether you’re an emerging challenger or an industry leader, you need a supplier-partner that can move at the speed that you need.

If the amount of questions I’m getting on this subject is any guide, CX-focused organizations are awake to what needs to be done. The key, quite simply, is to start.

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