With customer expectations rising higher than ever before, it’s never been tougher for organisations to deliver outstanding experiences. To succeed, CCOs need a healthy dose of what Churchill called “corkscrew thinking”
Winston Churchill knew the value of unconventional ideas. He called it “corkscrew thinking”, and it became the secret weapon that saw the Allies through the lowest points of World War Two.
Corkscrew thinking cracked the ‘unbreakable’ Enigma code, winning the Battle of the Atlantic. It gave us mines made of gobstoppers to sink Japanese warships. It gave us an inflatable army made of balloons, to fool the Germans about where the D‐Day landing would happen.
What all these ideas have in common is creativity. They approach problems from totally new angles, when ‘business as usual’ wasn’t going to cut it.
The ability to think like this is a vital skill for any CCO to possess. It’s how the world’s most forward-thinking customer experience (CX) leaders are able to discover innovative ways to meet the sky-high demands of the modern customer.
“An element of creativity in solving the problem in a different way is what drives a lot of the newer business models today” – Troy Barnes, CCO APAC, Pizza Hut
“I would say it’s an essential requirement,” says Troy Barnes, CCO APAC at Pizza Hut. “People who’ve been in the industry for a long time, can get caught in, ‘This is how we’ve always done it’.”
He continues: “When you put those guide rails up too high, you can get locked into that narrow view, when a more creative person could step outside that boundary.”
“Any business, particularly a business the size of ours, needs to think about how it can continue to evolve,” agrees Dr Violet Lazarevic, General Manager of Customer Insights at Telstra. “There can definitely be some challenges around getting stuck in particular ways of looking at customers.”
Salesforce’s 2019 State of the Connected Customer report proves that this kind of innovative thinking is essential in modern business.
The survey of more than 8,000 B2B and B2C buyers reveals that 58% of customers say technology is changing their expectations of brands and 54% want companies to transform how they engage with them.
Against this backdrop, conventional thinking often doesn’t cut it. When an organisation focuses on improving the way things already are, that can lead to incremental improvements. But the only way to radically improve things is to start doing something radically different.
Not every situation calls for corkscrew thinking. But it’s those CCOs who know how and when to throw out the rulebook and come at a challenge from a completely new angle who will rise to the top of the pack.
Corkscrew Thinking and the Customer Journey
Customer journey mapping is a key concept in CX optimisation. It’s the process many CCOs will use to understand the many interactions people may have with their brand from the customer’s perspective.
“The biggest thing is understanding the customer experience from a ‘journey’ perspective,” explains MLC Life Insurance Chief Customer Experience Officer Louise Portelli. “So, as they begin their relationship, as they end it and everything in between.”
Mapping a customer journey involves considering and evaluating all the different ways a customer may interact with a brand while attempting to achieve a specific goal.
Corkscrew thinking enters the picture when a CCO has mapped out a particular customer journey and is considering ways to improve it.
“You actually need to be prepared to throw out everything you’ve got today and think through how it can be fundamentally different” – Louise Portelli, Chief Customer Experience Officer, MLC Life Insurance
“If you are truly trying to reimagine and innovate, sometimes you need to go out on a limb,” Portelli argues. “You actually need to be prepared to throw out everything you’ve got today and think through how it can be fundamentally different in the future.”
In recent years, digitising and automating certain customer interactions have been two of the most common stands of CX innovation. But these are by no means the only avenues available to truly innovative minds.
The ability to forget about the way things are and imagine what they could be is what will let the boldest CCOs fundamentally reimagine key customer experiences in 2020 and beyond.
Knowing When to Reimagine an Experience
CCOs have a choice when optimising any customer journey. They can look for ways to improve the existing touchpoints on that journey. Or, they can seek to throw out certain parts of that journey and start again.
The first of these options will be the ‘bread and butter’ for most CX leaders. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel for business processes that work well and doing so without company buy-in is a good way to lose friends.
However, the second of these two options is the only way to truly transform a customer’s experience a brand.
“If you are truly trying to reimagine and innovate, sometimes you need to go out on a limb” – Louise Portelli, Chief Customer Experience Officer, MLC Life Insurance
“Pragmatism is really important when it comes to customer experience,” Portelli concedes. “Particularly when you’re in a large organisation, you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
She concludes: “You have to be able to balance an improvement agenda with a reimagining and innovation agenda.”
What the right balance between these two agendas is in practice will depend on what an organisation’s appetite for risk is and how committed it is to developing superior customer experiences.
But there’s no doubt that certain situations do call for a complete reimagining of the way things are currently done – and that’s why CCOs must be corkscrew thinkers.
This is an extract from Designing Deep Customer Experiences, an exclusive Corinium report featuring four of Asia Pacific's top CX leaders. Click the banner below now to claim your copy.