Saturday, January 4, 2014

Does Innovation Influence Customer Satisfaction?

More often than not, customers are the center of innovation efforts. 

Being customer-centric is one of the most significant goals for forward-looking businesses to shape a digital future, however, traditional innovation works on the basis of intuition almost exclusively. That's why it has such a high failure rate. The point is: does innovation influence customer satisfaction?

The two areas where innovation can raise customer satisfaction directly are in product design and in customer service: At all stages from pre-sales to after. Done well, innovation will lead to customer delight in either or both areas. However, a company needs to focus on innovation in those areas to achieve the desired result. So, it's about smart and effective innovation in the specific areas that affect customer satisfaction.

The more customer-facing the innovation, the higher the customer satisfaction would be: The level of increased customer satisfaction would be also based on both the industry and wherein the enterprise the innovation is occurring. However, when thinking of innovation, one often think of large-scale innovation which is important, but most customer service impressions occur in the "last mile" of service, the real innovation needs to occur in those very moments too. Unfortunately, most companies opt to teach their people how to consistently adhere to their rigid processes (often at the expenses of the customer) instead of improvising within those processes to delight the customer.

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, a psychologist delivered the message that given too many choices, people flounder and end up feeling bad about the choice they finally pick. Neither innovation nor invention links directly with the customer satisfaction. Good design thinking starting with a customer empathy map. The opportunity for the innovative company is not to launch a plethora of features and products that overwhelm the consumer, but rather provide a few really value-added products that are delightful, well thought out with the end user in mind, provide the simplicity of selection, usage, and outstanding reliability. These products need to solve a problem and help improve the customer life experience.

The innovation efforts at least shall not at all have conflicts with customer satisfaction. Most innovation processes, however, focus on products (accessing new markets or increasing current market share (not current market satisfaction) and most innovation efforts for re-process are to make the internal workings of the organization slicker rather than making it easier for the customer to interact/deal with the organization. But for the long term innovation success, that means customers have to continue to purchase and enjoy the products/services, so any innovation efforts shall keep customers in mind.

Customer satisfaction is a crucial area ripe for innovation.Although the two concepts-innovation and customer satisfaction are not linked automatically if customer centricity drives the innovation/innovative process there should be a clear impact and it should be measurable.


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