How real-life customer needs drive innovation

Jan. 8, 2014

By Jeannie Walters

CEO/Founder of 360Connext

The lives we live are more frenzied and complicated than ever. While technology gives us access, it also keeps us tethered to jobs and obligations like never before. Convenience in all industries continues to be a top-ranking driver for customer behavior and loyalty.

Healthcare is no different. A report released by Cisco earlier this year detailed what providers and consumers want from the experience in healthcare. One of the findings that stood out to me was the idea that virtual doctor visits are perfectly acceptable to many of us.

The study found that while consumers still depend heavily on in person medical treatments, given a choice between virtual access to care and human contact, three quarters of consumers find access to care more important than physical human contact with their care provider and are comfortable with the use of technology for the clinician interaction.

As healthcare costs rise, access is declining, and our own busy lives often make in-real-life doctor visits a huge inconvenience. Basically, we're saying we want to see a doctor to help us when we need one. We can connect with a doctor via Skype, thus getting the same prescription we'd get from an office visit. Bring it on!

Doesn't this apply to most customers?

Responding to their needs as people, not just as customers

How does this finding apply to you, if you're not a healthcare provider? The motivation is still the same. Help your customers find your option and experience the most convenient. Help them stay educated and informed. Help them help themselves in ways that are faster and more efficient than their other choices.

I've often wondered why more local retailers don't consider the idea of customers' convenience more as a way to improve their customer experience. While I believe in the premise of shopping local, I sometimes fall into the "it's easier to order from Amazon" camp. Local could be great, if they find ways to combine convenience and that warm fuzzy sense of buying from neighbors. I am happy to say I've spotted a few local gems whose customer experience innovations were really ways to provide additional convenience to customers.

  • A local toy store cleverly offered to wrap and hold holiday gifts in "Santa's workshop" until Christmas Eve for parents. It's a great example of innovating the experience of holiday toy shopping, in a very personal and unique way that Amazon cannot.
  • A local appliance retailer offers plenty for kids to enjoy at their store, so Mom and Dad can shop in peace. They created a store that is truly a destination. Not only that, but they are known for their expertise and service, making the entire experience well thought-out and convenient for their customers.

Whether it's consulting with your doctor via Skype or knowing you literally have elves helping you out, those conveniences help us as people, not just as customers. We just want to get our stuff done, within the greater context of the lives we live.

Customer experience innovation is all about looking for those examples of what's working and what your customer really wants next. I'd bank on convenience being a long-term strategy for innovation. Make things more convenient, efficient, and enjoyable for your customer and you'll find ways to innovate everywhere.

What about your favorite examples of convenience for customers? I'd love to hear about them.

(Photo by Deb Collins.)

Topics: Consumer Behavior , Customer Experience , Customer Service

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