Innovation is not just a Product Game; it’s also a Service Game

   by  symphony of love

This week we have a guest post from Janine Scott. Janine is the Regional Manager for Customer Experience with Wolters Kluwer. As someone who works in the business, Janine has some great insights and today she discusses innovation in service businesses.

Take it away Janine…


Quality or Quantity; which strategic position should your company take?

It’s a question that has been widely debated for some time and unfortunately doesn’t come with a one size fits all answer.

For the purpose of this discussion we are defining;

  • Quality” as a low volume, high touch and ultimately high cost to service model; and
  • Quantity” which supports higher volumes with a lower touch and lower cost to service model.

Each business must pick its strategy based on a number of factors within their own environment and on an overarching longer-term vision.

What is of most importance is to pick the strategy that best works for your business, and be a slave to it. You must be relentless in your ambition to execute. This is where the real differentiation comes in.

Unfortunately, many organisations lose their way and blur the boundaries between the two competing visions, leading to a confused strategy; internally and externally.

Service Innovation Plus Product Innovation

Regardless of which you select, to execute your strategy in this day and age of innovation, you will need to think outside the box.

We hear about this being the era of the customer — they expect more, demand more and will not settle for less. Whatever path you select, you will need to give some creative room to innovation to deliver the desired outcomes.

For many people, ‘innovation’ has become a bit of a buzz word, and is often taken to be product innovation — the iPhone, GPS, Robot vacuum cleaner (a personal favourite).

So what does this mean for organisations that have a strategy, less focused on the production of widgets, and more focused on providing a service offering?

If you step away from the world’s latest buzz word for a minute to look at what innovation means at its core:

Innovation is bringing to life creative ideas linked to performance improvements in efficiency, productivity, quality, market positioning, and sales execution.

The ideas we seek to improve our organisation need to come at both ends of the customer experience journey, not just the product development area.

The Quantity Path

For example, let’s take a look at the Quantity Strategy; attracting a broader, mixed market share does not have to mean a sacrifice in quality. You just have to be creative about where you innovate.

In this case you need to make the product or service offering simpler or more intuitive. It cannot require the skills of a consultant to step through, as the cost to service would constantly challenge the profitability of your offering.

Also very important in this Quantity space is to be innovative about how you set expectations about your offering. How do you reinforce these in the market so that the customers’ expectations are aligned with those set by you in the marketplace?

Roll that through to the back-office areas and, to eliminate the need for a dedicated relationship manager for every single customer, create online communities, self-help centres, click to chat, log a call … The list goes on.

These are low-cost service options that, when executed effectively, can deliver a great customer experience, providing the other pieces are all in complete alignment.

The Quality Alternative

On the other hand, if you prefer to take the focused path with a more quality-based premium-cost relationship, then you may need to consider how innovation can be expanded into more obscure areas.

For example, the cost to service a Quality relationship is going to be higher, even allowing for the above technology options. But even so, you have to be very careful. Your brand promise and your product or service promise will specify different expectations at this end of the customer experience journey.

If we assume a higher cost to service is required here, then you need to look for innovation to help support that higher cost. Your fees and charges will provide coverage to a large extent. You never want to be in a position of looking to your service delivery functions for cost reduction. So companies sourcing innovative ways to boost profitability are becoming more common.

For example, some organisations are acquiring businesses which seem on the surface to be quite obscure in relation to the core strategy, but which provide innovative solutions to cost improvements or other efficiencies.

Whatever strategy you select — differentiation or cost leadership — there is a common tool: innovation. Innovation supports the journey to success through the end-to-end customer experience journey, customer insights or the voice of the customer.

Any innovation that doesn’t originate from the voice of the customer is flawed from the outset. Let your customers tell you which areas they find valuable and which areas they desire improvements to, and ask them for this feedback regularly. Build these insights into part of the everyday innovation process and you might just be surprised by the outcomes.

janine-scottAbout Janine Scott

Janine Scott is Regional Manager for Customer Experience with Wolters Kluwer, CCH, where she is responsible for designing & implementing best in class customer experience framework and programs across the entire customer contact and support value chain within the Wolters Kluwer APAC business

Check out Janine on LinkedIn or email her at:



Struggling to Act on Customer Feedback? Try This.

Source: Temkin Group Q2 2012 CX Management Surveys,  © Temkin Group

Less than one in seven companies that collect and use customer feedback are running the process effectively.

Most are missing the key, and only useful, part of the process: taking action to improve their business. Many times though it’s not missing out of choice but because organisations do not know how to drive action in the business with customer feedback data.

Source: Temkin Group Q2 2012 CX Management Surveys,  © Temkin Group

Source: Temkin Group Q2 2012 CX Management Surveys

A few weeks ago I asked more than 6,000 subscribers to our regular blog updates to tell me where they wanted the most help. I wanted to know where they are having the most issues with the customer feedback and Net Promoter ® process, so I could make sure I provided the right content on this blog.

While customer survey design, analysis, benchmarking and survey processes were all well represented in the responses, one area stood out: how to actually do something with the data.

Companies are collecting and analysing all of this data but when it actually comes to taking action, things often seem to fall apart.

Subscribers wanted to know how to use all that good customer information to really drive change in their companies. I heard things like:

  • How can I influence others to prioritise areas for improvement for better customer experience?
  • How can I channel that enthusiasm to do something with the numbers?
  • How can I manage Detractors caused by departments external to mine?
  • How can we link the NPS score to driving change in the business?

That people were having problems in this area was not a surprise to me but the level of frustration was.

The problem is that the mechanics of setting up a customer feedback system are, seemingly, relatively simple:

  1. Write some questions to ask customers
  2. Set up a survey tool (SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, etc.)
  3. Send it to customers.

And because the steps are easy, that’s what people actually do: they focus on the short term things that seem to be about customer feedback.

However, when responses come in they discover they actually need a larger set of skills and processes to turn the signals customers are providing into changes in the organisation.

Many of these processes are relatively straight forward to implement, once you know how. For instance the service recovery process can only really be run a couple of different ways. Once you know the options, selecting the right one and implementing it for your business is quite straight forward.

The real problem is, if you don’t have the play book for designing them, it can be very difficult to know where to start and what you’re missing.

Paying it Forward

When I asked for feedback from my subscribers, I did so to understand what type of content they needed the most and I will go on to provide it over time.

But as so many people responded and provided their input, I wanted to pay that goodwill forward more quickly.

Get on the Phone/Skype with Me for 30 Minutes for FREE

So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to do around 10-15 free Telephone/Skype consultations.

I’ll get on the phone with you for 30 minutes, and you can tell me exactly which problems you are facing in driving action from your customer feedback. Then I’ll give you advice that is specific to your exact situation.

And it’s 100% free. No charge, no strings. Not even an email opt-in.

All you have to do is email me at and request a session.

In your email please provide initial details on what you are trying to achieve or the problems you are having. We can then book a time and run the session.

Also, it doesn’t matter which country you are in as we can arrange a time appropriate to both of us.

Just one thing – if too many people end up requesting a session, I’ll probably end up doing the free calls with people who provide the most information in their email to me on the issues they are trying to solve. So if you are keen for the session, please provide a good level of detail in your email.

If you have questions on how to drive action with customer feedback please do take me up on this offer. We’ve helped many organisations in the past and there are some simple approaches that can make a big difference.

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Why is More Important than How In Customer Feedback

Why? by BuzzFarmers, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  BuzzFarmers 

Why is a very powerful word.

One of the most popular Ted talks of all time, over 19 million views, asks you to start not with the how of your business but the why of your business.

Why asked 5 times is the basis of the incredibly powerful 5 Whys root cause analysis technique.

Young children find out how the world works by asking why a seemingly endless number of times.

So when you are considering investing considerable time and resources in rolling out a new customer feedback or Net Promoter® program you should make sure that why is the first question you ask as well. [Read more…]

The Ultimate List of Net Promoter® Best Practice Tips

Automate your process

Automate your process

Net Promoter was launched in 2003 and since then many, many organisations have used the methodology to drive change in their business. With so much time invested, lots of lessons have been learned.

So you don’t have to re-learn those lessons the hard way I’ve pulled together this massive list of Net Promoter best practice tips.

Note that these tips pretty much apply to any Voice of the Customer or Customer feedback (but not market research) process. So regardless of whether you are using Customer Effort Score, Customer Satisfaction or NPS® you can apply them to your business. [Read more…]

Net Revenue Score is not a new Net Promoter Score®

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Unfortunately John Greathouse has jumped to a few conclusions when he penned his article in the Wall Street Journal: Startups Should Focus On Their NRS — Net Revenue Score. There are quite a few items that need review including: [Read more…]

Want to build trust with your customers? Recommend a competitor.

Harry Antrim as Mr. R.H. Macy

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Over to you Amy…

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When you first see this you must be thinking “Are they crazy why on earth would I want to give business to my competitors?”

But this isn’t as daft as it sounds. [Read more…]

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In this recent post by Fonolo American Airlines was hammered for having an outstanding (in a bad way) number of Twitter users complain about being on hold with them.

This got me to thinking:

How good is crowd data at predicting the Net Promoter Score for an organisation?

As it turns out it’s a pretty good indicator so let’s review it in detail. [Read more…]

Zappos Service is for Zappos, not You


We’ve all heard the stories of famously customer focused organisations where staff have gone wildly above and beyond customer expectations to create raving fans.

At Zappos, one famous (albeit perhaps apocryphal) tale is the story of a customer service person having pizza delivered to customers who were sitting online talking to their contact center. [Read more…]

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employee-net-promoter-scoreI’ve talked before about Employee NPS (eNPS) as a great way to collect feedback on how your staff feel about the organisation.

However, as I’m not an expert in organisation design it’s been difficult for me to muster the arguments for replacing or even augmenting the existing very long annual employee engagement surveys so often used by organisations.

But recently I was chatting to Beatrice Hofmeyr, who is an expert in organisation design, and she was just as keen about eNPS, and for the same reasons!

Beatrice agreed to discuss using eNPS and how/why it is so effective. [Read more…]