Designing WOW experiences from the Outside-In

Our favorite moment during our Customer WOW workshops happens during the journey mapping exercise. That “aha” moment when the reality of the customers’ experience starts to sink in – that instant when the team develops an entirely new perspective on their work – is exciting and gratifying to watch.  In a short time, people across multiple functions realize that everything everyone does contributes to the customer experience – that they all have an impact on making the customer happy and the company successful every day.

With all  the talk and seemingly endless articles about user experience and design-thinking these days you would expect that most companies are building this approach into their organizations.  The reality is that being customer-focused requires a culture shift.  It’s natural for companies to become more siloed as they grow – economies of scale, right? The problem is that this often leads to a focus on internal benchmarks and goals instead of customer joy.  One giveaway of this shift is when more time is spent talking about how to improve internal processes than on the customer and their needs.

Three ingredients of Customer WOW

  1. Delivering maximum value
  2. Intuitive, effortless experience
  3. Consistent delivery

What GrowthTera calls Outside-In Thinking requires looking at all of your company’s interactions, both external and internal through the lens of your customer.  We believe Outside-In thinking is critical to building sustainable growth.  Why?   Because without this perspective it’s impossible to build those WOW experiences that keep customers coming back for more. According to McKinsey, the benefits of improving the customer experience are significant.  Not only will better customer experiences generate higher client-satisfaction scores, it can also help to reduce costs by 10-20%, increase revenue growth 10-15% and improve employee satisfaction.1   Great reasons to get your team thinking outside-in.

Thinking Outside-In rather than Inside-Out
The only way to deliver a WOW experience is to focus on have an outside-in mindset.  Outside-in thinking differs from inside-out in four key areas:

Inside-Out

Outside-In

Focus Internal/Employee’s view External/Customer’s view
Participants Functions/silos Cross-functional
Metrics Cost, efficiency, satisfaction with touchpoint Revenues, costs, employee satisfaction
Outputs Process WOW Experiences

Focus:  It’s really easy to get caught up in your day-to-day reality – hitting your number, crossing things off to-do lists, making sure that the internal processes are followed.  Just get it done.  Check the box.  We don’t always take the time to think about the customer at the other end when we’re caught up in the daily grind. What are they going through – both in terms of actions and emotions? What do they need to be successful?  Changing your focus from inside-out to outside-in forces you to think about your customers as people, not just as numbers or users of your product

Participants:  Your people work hard to deliver the results that are expected of them, but too often the focus shifts from the big picture to their piece of the puzzle – their job.  Bringing people together from across functions helps shift the focus back and achieves two key goals:  One, it gives everyone on the team a common understanding of the customer and their experience. Two, it allows everyone to develop an appreciation of the roles that others play in serving the customer.  Engaging with others helps to understand what the next person needs in order for them to deliver WOW. One of our clients has a great guiding principle “set the next person up for success”. Focusing on the next person, not just yourself helps to develop that outside-in mindset, recognizing that everyone has a role to play in delivering WOW.

Metrics:  Inside-out thinking is about optimizing the process, efficiency and effectiveness.  These metrics do help improve execution. The key is to expand from process metrics to focusing on customer satisfaction and the link to business outcomes, such as revenue growth and profitability.  Delivering WOW experiences has the potential to increase customer satisfaction, net promoter scores (NPS) and revenue growth, while also reducing costs.  Any changes in process should be measured in terms of impact – do they contribute to WOW experiences that drive referrals, revenues and cost savings.

Outputs:  I always smile, when I see participants in our workshops catch themselves falling back on old inside-out thinking habits.  It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “we do this and this and this”.  Don’t get me wrong, process is essential to driving consistency, but the goal is to deliver a WOW experience, not an awesome internal process.

Move your people from inside-out to outside-in thinking and help them create WOW customer experiences.  Then, watch your profits and revenues soar.


[1] http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/improving-the-business-to-business-customer-experience

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