Customer Experience Innovation


DSC_6945We are living in a world where we are so complacent and we continue to find solutions for old problems. What we find really difficult to do is come up with new questions. If I look at FNB’ innovation journey, the did not ask, “What new banking product” can we develop, or “can we cut the price of our products?” Instead they asked, “How can we make people go freeking crazy about our brand?”, “Without changing our core value proposition! How can we create real value for consumers and help them solve their problems (not ours)”

An important part of innovation is forgetting the “old” answers and allowing new thought to enter the mind!

So I am going to cover a few questions in this e-book:

  • What is innovation?
  • Why innovation?
  • Who do we innovate for?
  • How do we innovate?

So let’s start with the first question.

What is innovation?

So in essence, we are saying that both invention and improving on someone’s invention can be categorized as innovation! It is both the slight improvement on an existing value proposition as well as something radical and disruptive.

I recently wrote a controversial article for Bizcommunity in which I made predictions for the future and one of them was that the companies and industries who innovate really well will have people wondering in a few years, what their original value proposition was.

I believe that value propositions will blur in the future. In the case of FNB, they are changing what it means to bank. They have co-branded with really cool device brands and I predict that they will not only become the largest provider of tech goods in South Africa, but they will also become the biggest bandwidth re-seller. When you look at social media case studies in South Africa, you just need to look as far as @rbjacobs and @michaeljordaan and look at how they are engaging with consumers. Ten years ago it would be unheard for a normal man on the street to talk to a respected CEO of a bank, now people discuss issues with him anything from complaints to advice, to thanking him for the color of their new ipad. Because the ipad after all did not come from apple, it came from FNB!

Why innovation?

Seth Godin says people have so much choice these days and so little time. So what do consumers do with brands? They simply ignore their R5 million rand advertisement! Here is a video clip that illustrates what are happening between consumers and advertisers today.


Seth Godin calls this the TV industrial complex. You buy a lot of ads on TV and as a result sell a lot of products which means you can buy more ads. Because you interrupt people and sell to the masses, you were successful! This is no longer the case.

So I want to be a bit provocative and repeat the words of Kevin Roberts from Saatchi and Saatchi when he claims that marketing is dead. Also, you no longer own your brand! The consumer does! They will interpret you brand in the way that they want to, and never before have they been more verbal. They will say about your brand what they want, where they want and they will comment on your brands personality and attach human attributes to your brand!

I also want to add to that that I think advertising as we know it is dead. Let’s quickly get some opinions from you… Think for a moment, what would happen if your brand had to stop advertising today?

This is a slide that I borrowed from Kevin Roberts and he describes the differences between the rational and the emotional. He says that the rational leads to meetings, to discuss vision and mission statements and then you hire more consultants to help us formulate better mission and vision statements and then you never get rid of the consultants, whereas emotions inspire action!

He continues to say that we are no longer marketers, we are all connectors!

Who do we innovate for?

We cannot innovate in isolation from intimately getting to know the consumer, both the consumer of today and the consumer of tomorrow.

In a client centric organization it is less about your brand than it is about the brand of the consumer. You have to understand that brand very well in order to appeal to the consumer.

I want to highlight two trends that I am certainly very interested in from a customer experience design perspective.

The first trend is around personalization, where we see that consumers respond much better to personalized content, even if that content is automatically generated. Let’s quickly look at this video clip of a digital campaign that features feminine hygiene products.

I want us to spend a few moments, thinking about thus campaign and applying it to your industry. What would this campaign look like if we had to translate this for banking, retail, insurance, utilities?

The next trend that I want to talk about, is the ever connectedness of consumers and the fact that they share a vast amount of information with their networks!

How do we innovate?

The great news is that we have taken two days out to spend it at a customer experience conference to talk about customer experience. Industry experts truly believe that customer experience design is a tool for innovation that will enable you to differentiate your value propositions in such a way that you could become the “leader” in your industry!


In looking at customer experience sign, we have to consider the work of Daniel Kahneman. He talks about research that was done looking at the pain experiences of patients that go through a colonoscopy and what they found was that contrary to what they thought was that patients who experienced pain for longer reported their experience to be more positive than patients who experience pain for a shorter time but the pain had much higher peaks and ended on a high pain peak. This separates the experiencing self from the remembering self. This to me being a mother of three children is a perfect explanation why you have another child after being in labor for 18 hours! I have to admit, I do remind my son of this often when he complains when I ask him to do something for me! But childbirth ends in such a wonderful climax of meeting this amazing new person that thinks you are the most wonderful thing that they have ever seen!

Below is a TED video of Daniel talking about this phenomena.

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Daniel Kahneman’s work lead to the “Peak end Rule” that says “we judge our past experiences almost entirely by how they are at their peak and how they end”








This empowers brand to really design so the remembering self has positive peaks and a positive ending to associate with the brand.










Story Telling as a means to innovate

Humans have been telling stories for as long as we remember. When we really want to get into the shoes of our customers, story telling proves to be a powerful way to do that.

Story telling as a design method helps us to conceptualise, humanise, optimise and inspirationalise. It give us a way to apply empathy.

This is a diagram that I reused from a presentation by Idris Motee.




We are going to use Customer Journey mapping as a way to bring the story to life.

When we plot the journey we are constantly going to ask the question, what problems/questions does the consumer have in this journey. Once we have surfaced all the questions, you can then claim the ones your brand is solving right now. Innovation often lies in solving those problems better or providing a solution to unsolved problems (even if they are not directly related to your brand)

About the Author

Chantel is a consultant in various industries, including media and advertising, finance, insurance and transport. She has 20 years of experience in this and over the last 6 years has managed large corporate Customer Experience programs and has facilitated the design of voice of the customer, culture programs, customer journey and touchpoint mapping. Chantel is part of a global Customer Experience community that regularly lectures, speaks at local and international conferences and contributes articles to a variety of global publications. She is a founder member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) as well as a member of the GlobalCXPanel that provides consulting, training and customer experience advisory and strategy services. She is also chair and founder of BrandLove. Brandlove’s goal is to advance Customer Experience Management and Design as a practice and profession in South Africa and facilitate access to the best information and customer experience experts globally.