Dogs, Dog Food, and Customer Experience (Cx) Design
by Tim Ogilvie, CEO, Peer Insight LLC
As part of our study of service innovation I recently spoke with Austin Henderson at Pitney Bowes. Austin has served as the Director of both Pitney Bowes’ Concept Studio and its downstream partner, the Systems Lab, which seeks to commercialize the concepts that emerge. He also has a background at MIT, Xerox PARC, Fitch Design, and Apple, giving him a keen view of what works in innovation. Austin shared the four tests they use at Pitney Bowes to determine if a concept merits full-scale development:
1. Does it work for customers?
2. Is it technically feasible?
3. Can it stand on its own as a business?
4. Does it fit the brand portfolio?
The first test reminded me of the words of a wise venture capitalist in response to a new concept I was pitching (remote control of objects over the Internet, if you must know): "Yes, but will the dog eat the dog food?"
It’s true, dogs don’t talk, they act. And even though people do talk, our actions speak louder than our words. The nascent discipline of customer experience (or Cx) is helping a lot of companies navigate these murky waters to create "Wow!" You know all about "Wow!" if you’ve ever used NetFlix, or LL Bean’s lifetime guarantee, or Progressive’s pay-per-use auto insurance.
Most of the well-known examples are from the hospitality and retail industries. More quiet but equally impressive customer experiences are starting to pop up in business-to-business segments, too, and not by accident. Companies are getting good at it, despite the lack of a formal field of Cx (Customer Experience Design).
We have been researching the topic for ten months and have thus far interviewed over 150 senior service innovators from over 50 Fortune 500 companies. A rich body of Cx knowledge exists ... just not in any convenient repository from which we can all draw. It is dispersed among many talented individuals at forward-thinking companies that are committed to providing a superb experience to their customers.
Our research has taught us "The Ten Principles of Cx." Principle #3, for example, is "Use customer-centric analytical tools and design methods." There is a simple tool we call value gap analysis that highlights the gaps in a customer experience and accurately anticipates competitive strategies. Principle #8 is: "Use tangible artifacts to make the experience vivid." Our research has identified five keys to effective tangible artifact design, including several dozen exemplary artifacts.
Because this research and our new report on it is too lengthy to report here, we are offering it to members of the InnovationNetwork along with a 20% discount on our upcoming 2-day workshop, "The Principles of Cx Design," on April 12-13 at the Georgetown University Center for Professional Development. For more information on the workshop, please mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.