Published in Forbes

Smile face on green ball with golden five stars for customer or client survey and satisfaction after use product and service concept by 3d render.

Jeff Bezos famously said, “We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.”

He probably envisioned the importance of driving customer-centric innovations to stay ahead of the competition. 

The success of a business in the current landscape can be attributed to many reasons- from products, services, marketing, customer support to brand loyalty. But if you make a list of industry leaders that stand apart from the crowd, you’ll notice a common denominator- embracing innovation. 

Whether it’s the new-age businesses like Amazon and Uber or industry stalwarts such as Google and Microsoft, consistent innovation has been a key to their growth and success. And innovation not only in products, services, or marketing but also in customer experience. When customer experience innovation is done right, it leads to sustainable innovation in products, services and even business. 

What is Customer Experience Innovation?

In the always-evolving world of mobile, social media, and never-ending customer expectations, deriving brand equity by simply getting the basics right isn’t enough. You need to ‘out-innovate’ the competition so that the customers keep returning to you again and again. We can only do this through constant Customer Experience innovation or CX innovation. 

Put simply; CX innovation revolves around your customers- providing them with original, personalized, helpful, and fun-filled services and products which could help you differentiate your products or services in crowded markets. 

Why CX Innovation?

A McKinsey report says 84% of the business executives agree that innovation is critical to their growth. But while innovation has been a hot topic for the C-suite for quite some time, the traditional practice of innovating products or services doesn’t work anymore as they are often ineffective or short-lived. That’s because they are siloed into improving individual touchpoints. 

Customer experience innovation is a more sustainable way for businesses to separate themselves from their competition. And multiple studies highlight the importance of personalized experiences. For instance, according to a report, businesses that earn $1 billion a year can earn an additional $700 million over three years by investing in customer experience. 

Key Elements of CX Innovation & Their Interconnectedness 

  • Workplace Innovation: Through workplace innovation, you give all the stakeholders of the businesses a platform to drive creative innovations. 
  • Product Innovation: Listening to your customers is key to driving innovations in the existing product or bringing out new innovative products that lead to better customer experiences. 
  • Service Innovation: When product innovation becomes larger than the original product itself, it can disrupt the services offered or the way you offer them. 
  • Business Innovation: Radical disruption in the way you provide services can often bring structural changes in the business verticals or create a new ecosystem altogether. 

What CX Innovation is Not?

Unlike product or service innovation that could directly increase or decrease sales, CX innovation is not really about making your customers purchase more, at least not as directly. Instead, it is more about personalizing the journeys and experiences for creating a symphony between the brand and its customers. 

The alignment of these two paths can enable a business to create or alter moments for accelerating customer journeys. While traditional practices often require customers to adjust according to the brand, CX innovation focuses on adjusting the brand and its offerings according to the customers’ changing needs and expectations. 

Embracing CX Innovation to Drive Growth

How should an organization begin with customer experience innovation? Start with these winning strategies-

  1. Understand Customer Needs

The secret to CX innovation lies in your customers. Understanding the customers’ needs, wants, pain points, and how they perceive your brand could be an excellent starting point. Analytics, surveys, reviews, and regular interaction on social platforms can provide excellent insights into your customers and their minds. 

However, while CX innovation is customer-centric, it is not customer-led. Innovation often lies in offering solutions to problems your customers haven’t voiced yet. Observing customer journeys at every touchpoint and visualizing new solutions that can solve their problems better can lead to innovation. 

  • Build a CX-first Culture

The culture of a company abundantly depends on its leadership. If the leaders are not considering the customers in each of their decisions, it can be very challenging to adopt the strategy across the organization. Therefore, leaders should always focus on customer metrics in their operational and financial meetings for developing a CX-first culture. 

Remember, while customer service is the responsibility of a CMO, customer experience innovation is the joint responsibility of the COO, CMO, CIO and ultimately CEO. 

  • Improving Customer Touchpoints

A Zendesk report suggests that almost 50% of the customers would switch to a different brand after a single bad experience. And nothing impacts customer experience more than their direct interactions with your team. So, analyze all your customer touchpoints to identify the gaps where innovation can lead to better customer experiences. 

  • Innovation Lies in the More

Once you know all the customer touchpoints, it’s essential to compare them against a benchmark. And the best benchmark is your competition. Answer these key questions-

  • How are they doing it better or different from you? 
  • What can you learn from them? 
  • What can you do even better? 

The idea is to offer what your competition is already offering and more. The key is in this very more. 

  • The Second-Best to Your Customers are those Who Face Them

45% of the business leaders agree that they get ideas for CX improvement from their employees, says this study. Your frontline employees regularly engage with the customers and are more aware of their needs, wants, and pain points. Keeping the employees engaged and taking their inputs is an effective way to improve customer experience through innovation.

6. See Beyond Your Boundaries

When customer experience innovation is holistic, it expands or even creates new and larger ecosystems. Looking at better ways of offering your product or service can help you build businesses that you probably never imagined before. A word of caution here, though. It’s imperative to know your true north, which comes from your vision and mission- else, you’re in danger of straying from the path you originally set on.

Build The Happy Organization to Drive CX Innovation

I wrote about the correlation between a happy workplace and happy customers in my recent article. But it goes beyond just building happy customers. Happy people are more creative and productive, which is the cornerstone for innovation. In fact, happiness and creativity feed into each other. 

Organizations that constantly innovate are also happier. 

Building a happy workplace provides a strong foundation for constant innovation, leading to better customer experiences, which helps create a happier organization.