Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Effects You Don't Have To Be A Big Corporation To See (Part 1)
Ok let’s recap, 2020 gave us a global pandemic, exposed racial wounds that are yet to be healed, an economy that all but ground to a halt because of a global pandemic, and a workforce that had upwards of 10 million people unemployed.
Now everything in 2020, wasn’t so bleak, we got a second season of The Mandolorian, learned how to create illusions of business casual, and do that thing that we have been putting off for years because our life has become simplified.
Yet, as business leaders, we can’t ignore the devastation that has occurred because of the social disruptions and I’d like to explore, how have these factors impacted innovativeness in business environments. The challenge for most business leaders is creating an innovative culture and that was not made easy by the events that occurred in 2020, of which the aftershock is still being felt around the globe.
Innovativeness is the ability and capacity to systematically produce innovations that directly or indirectly positively impact current and future customers. Research says that innovativeness is driven by two main elements; customer experience (CX) and employee engagement (EX).
Given our normal way of doing things has been flipped on its head, how are the actors that facilitate these drivers responding to environmental stimuli. From a CX perspective, we’ve seen a mass exodus toward digital which enables data capture on steroids, yet also presents the challenge of balancing the voice of the customer (VOC) and giving customers the keys to their own experience. With people consuming 100K times more content than ever in human history how do businesses interrupt that flow to co-create an experience that is unique to each user while keeping inclusion and empathy at the forefront?
In speaking with CX experts and thought leaders, the response is to embed trust and empathy in the digital paths along which customers interface with the brand.
Trust for a brand is about trustworthiness in the eyes of prospects and customers. The Trust Equation highlights the elements of trustworthiness. See a video on the Trust Equation here.
In essence, our credibility, reliability, and intimacy have to show up in our interactions with our customers and this has to be executed in a way that is relevant to their needs and not for our self-gratification. You might be saying "easier said than done, how can I make this happen". CX experts indicate that being crystal clear on your Value Proposition internally prior to examining the interfaces that shape CX for your brand is a great place to start. Your approach to differentiation (which is how our products and services stand out in the market to our customers) should also be considered when assessing your Value Proposition; meaning, are you creating something new (product or service) in your industry, or is it something that is mature and has been in the industry for a while? This may be an adjustment exercise for companies trying to address a lack of empathy in their customer Journeys but well worth the time for the return to be gained in customer connection and relative trustworthiness. CX experts also suggest that the effectiveness of the CX agendas and programs implemented are a direct result of the type of culture that’s in place in your organization. Simply put cultures that struggle with trust and empathy will also struggle with implementing these attributes into their CX programs. CX programs that don’t elicit trustworthiness in a digital form will find it challenging to improve the innovativeness of their organization.
An example can be drawn from an experience I had with Walmart recently. A few days after I made an online purchase from Walmart, I received an email asking me to provide feedback on my brief experience interacting with the brand. While the survey didn’t necessarily lead me to believe that I could trust Walmart to take action on my feedback in the future or that they understand the job I needed to get done. But in this instance, based on the questions in the survey, one could at least assume that they cared about my situation and that’s a start. The survey was also accompanied by an entry into sweepstakes to win either a $1000 or $100 gift card, which is how they got me to opt-in to receive future messages that could be used to build trust and express their empathy for the jobs I need to get done. The takeaway here is to leverage opportunities to communicate with customers and get them talking about your business where at least you can control the narrative. The opposite would be a reactive posture that reserves communications to those that are in response to customers (typically communications of a negative nature).
While challenging, it's not impossible to add trust and empathy to your customer's digital paths. The more difficult task is overcoming a culture that is not inherently characterized by trust and empathy. The social disruptions of 2020 have created a lack of confidence in the corporate entity (by the employee) and as that has increased, the innovativeness in the company decreases. Part 2 of this series will explore how social disruptions have impacted companies' ability to embrace employee experience. See you then.
At Stratascension, we offer an Experience Strategy Session that kicks off the adventure of assisting clients with reviewing their customer journeys and exploring ways to not only improve the trust and empathy along the path but shoring up the overall CX strategy to ensure customers receive a consistent and authentic message as they engage with the brand.