Why Best Practice Isn't Good Enough

Last Updated Aug 20, 2009 2:07 PM EDT

What business doesn't want to create the kind of distinctive customer experiences that are the envy of competitors? But what does 'wow' service look like? Not like anything you've seen among competitors, according to Lior Arussy of Strativity Group.

To innovate in service, you need to ditch 'best practice' adoption in favour of what he calls "next practices" in this post.

In the simplest terms, it comes down to answering customer 'pain' -- Arussy's example is a taxi cab that has installed massage chairs. It's a free service that surprises customers -- so they tip generously and book the cab again.

Surprising your customer seems to figure large: Arussy lists some questions to ask about any experience innovation you're considering, some of which are below:

  • Is your change obvious? Is it counter-intuitive?
  • What rules are you breaking?
  • Are you following market trends or opposing them?
  • Is your customer experience emotionally involving -- and would your customer pay extra for it?
  • How easy is it to implement the experience within your business?
One sign you're on the right path is if you get pushback from naysayers -- if you're not hearing any objections, your idea may not be radical enough.

One rule breaking example is Casa Camper, the Barcelona hotel owned by the cult shoe company Camper. Playing on the idea of a hotel as a 'home from home', Casa provides free bikes for guests to get around the city and, more radically, it has done away with room service. Instead, you get an open access kitchen, where you can get as many helpngs of free food as you want.

Although the innovation is product-led, the process behind the creation of vacuum cleaner iRobot also helps when thinking about innovative service.

In Thomas Koulopoulos's book, "The Innovation Zone", he explains how the iRobot goes against industry trends in that the 'service' it delivers recognises that people don't like pushing around vacuum cleaners at all -- and creates a way of helping them avoid the experience altogether.

In service terms, that means thinking about the "brand promise" you've made to customers -- and playing with how that will inspire great experiences.

One area Arussy doesn't touch on is the open innovation trend that's already widespread. Are there examples of counter-intuitive service experiences out there that are for the customer, by the customer?

(photo: skinnydiver, CC2.0)