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Let all the flowers bloom!

Tomi Härmä from MediaLuotsi opened the Finnish Marketin Reseach Society’s (SMTS) seminar on Tuesday 7.2 2017 on Leading Customer Experience using a finnish saying “let all the flowers bloom”. Meaning that all the different disciplines of research plus service design thinking & tools are needed to get deep understanding of customer’s needs and wants and learn from different perspectives on the experience journey.

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Instead of the overused term “customer experience” (CX) we are already going closer to  actual customer is the queen thinking and doing. Using facts as well as emotions to gain insights into this journey. The aim of the seminar was to learn what it means to actually lead customer experience in real life through doing.

Leading with facts or vision?

Lauri Toivonen, marketing director from S retail group, took us thru their 3 year journey of change. It has been all about leading thru vision, data has been important but secondary. As all business fields are now in global competition, the creating of meaningful content is of utmost importance. Having the ad on the price of minced meat on the front page of daily newspaper is not content. It is not enough that you’re the best in Finland as Zara, Hennes & Mauritz and XXL Sport have shown us. The aim needs to be set high.

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The starting point for the journey is a profitable business equation. Analytics, objectives, insights, optimizing and constant learning are the factors.

Creativity is the last unfair competitive advantage

Lauri quoted Jarkko Tuuria and explained that creativity needs a solid base of insight and understanding of the customers and their needs. A service is always about a solution to a customer’s problem, putting the customer really in the center.

Cultural change from advertising to doing

Human in the center means the employees as well as customers. Putting the employees in the center means doing together, sharing and co-creating – not an attitude of my team and my targets. Less leadership forums and more gathering together to solve problems and find solutions. And this requires relentless and supporting leadership and coaching. The skills needed have changed and so has the structure of the organization. Also the job titles have changed to support the change process.

Top 3

  • Loyalty 2.0 – be loyal to the customer, not the other way around
  • NO to stills – if the customer can’t use or act on the service, do not make it a service
  • AI –  helps to learn about customers and their needs

No more presentations

Insight director Laura Andström from research company Ottoboni continued on Lauri’s theme about the changes in business practises. It is all about co-creating and learning together. There are no longer consultants presenting on the the other side of the table but the work is done together from start to finish. A common goal and team work together thru common understanding and insightment process. Old school process described in the picture below meant that the customer gave the brief to the consultants/ad agency/reseach company and expected them to find the solution. Life went on both sides and in worse case scenario the consultants ended up presenting something that the customers didn’t get and got fired.

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Laura’s learnings on mapping the customer journey

Zero point – put the customer in the center and then draw a map looking thru their eyes to help them solve their problems/reach their goals. Be brave and have a vision. When you understand the customer’s everyday life, you can use the journey map as a tool. Do validate the learnings to check that the business equation works.

  • Emotion is the road to innovation – id what happens between doing, thinking and emotions
  • Hands and feet on – experiment in practice, take the employees and customer along
  • Use different research methods and practises  – to open new perspectives
  • Keep the focus – can’t have it all at once
  • One size doesn’t fit all (read the blog Don’t make a Journey Map)
  • Concentrate on moments, not channels – the customer’s experiences where value is created or not
  • Lead the emotions – concentrate on expectations and feelings
  • Co-create, measure, projectize – leading the customer journey needs everybody on be onboard
  • Follow and measure

The Informed Consumer and Insights about Insights

Insight – inspiration – vision. Those were the some of the magic words mentioned at the Informed Consumer study research in Stockholm. The study is conducted by a Nordic insight agency Kuudes and the content consists of current and future trends and motives underlying consumer behavior. The results of the study were first presented in the beautiful Fotografiska museum on Valentines day 2017, and in addition to the release of the results fantastic quest speakers were there to inspire the enthusiastic international audience.

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The first speaker, Chairman & Advisor from Berghs School of Communication Pär Lager woke everybody up by stating that “The opposite may also be true”. His big question was how to constructively find our the other possible truths that exist in every problem and solution. Insights play a big role in finding the opposite truths, and Lager framed that as outside driven company culture, which means that consumers, their behavior, motives and consumer trends should always come first.

An example used by Lager was Amazon. In the 2009 financial crisis they were able to grow substantially, and did that by selling something that has always existed in a channel that was not new. What was new however was the way they were able to capitalize on the consumer behaviors and to build new offerings by combining existing technologies to build a unique marketplace. The example is of course revolutionary and often cited, but it clearly states what can be done with a clever use of insights.

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According to Lager, insights need openness to change, and without that they are useless. It’s good to remember that even though the world is moving fast, many things still evolve very slowly. Because of that there is a great risk to get stuck in the old ways, and that is of course to be avoided at all cost. And again, this is where the alternative scenarios come to play!

Next up Head of Consumer Design at Alra, Tytti-Lotta Ojala inspired us with her talk about brand-led innovation and the role of insight in that. From a real-time survey done during her speech, it was quite clear that what’s missing from organizations when it comes to making good innovations are bold decisions. Those can be done by backing them up with clear insights and vision about the consumer and the future. Ojala stated that in order to have successful insights, they need to be defined somehow. Organizations need to think about what insights mean for them, and what do they try to capture with insights. Only then can the organization talk the same language.

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For Ojala, insight is a vessel for engaging creativity. It is not a fact, but rather a vision, and indeed needs visionary mindset and creativity to be successful. Insights should inspire people in the companies to build brands their consumers grow to love. Ojala also stated that the stronger the value proposition of the product is, the less you need to do to get noticed. A strong proposition stands out from the competitors and catches attention, but you have to think big and try to change the game. This is the way to create love from the consumers.

Last but not least was time to release the findings from the Informed Consumer study. The results contain 7 consumer segments and 3 underlying trends in consumer mindsets: significance, self-importance and moderation.

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Significance is the need to understand our purpose, and in consumption behaviors that means that the consumers are looking for significance in their choices. This is often done by grounding daily choices to personal values, which can of course vary greatly. Brands that are able to take a stand and be authentic are interesting to people looking for significance, and in fact 58% of consumers want authenticity form their products!

Self-importance is more about creativity and self-expression, and according to the study 54% of consumers value creativity and trendiness in daily life. Consumption is then focused more in creating meaning and experiences, not just fulfilling basic needs. Individuality and status are drivers for consumption.

Moderation is about loyalty, modesty and longer relationships with brands. Consumption is often cautious and consumers want to make smart choices. Routines play a part of this trend, and 75% of the consumers say that they make choices based on routines. Minimal but still good quality is important, and cutting down on less important things can be considered a pleasure in itself.

There results presented were from the Swedish study, and obviously there are differences between cultures. Kuudes has previously conducted a similar study in Finland, you can find the results here. A highly recommended read!

Ahto´17- lean service creation

ahtologobanneri-5855During this week TEKES (Finnish Funding Institute for Innovation) and Futurice  organized a free LEAN service creation workshop as a gift to Finland celebrating it´s 100 years of independence. Participants were from development functions from various industries representing the variation of Finnish companies. Naturally the bigger purpose of the event was to spread the word of agile, customer centric development methods, to boost Finnish economy. So on a grey Wednesday morning we were 500 hundred participants in 60 groups of 4-5 people together with 50 000 Post-its eager to master the method.

What is lean service creation?

According to my understanding Lean service creation is a service design process developed by Futurice.  It´s generated by applying commonly known best practices and company´s own experience from client work. It combines the principles of lean start up methodology with design thinking principles and the Strategyzer business model canvas.  The phases in the lean service creation process follow pretty much the double diamond theory frame for service design process. All the material is open source and can be found here: https://leanservicecreation.com/ .  The method is aiming in creating excellent digital services, but I would highlight, established companies can apply the process to all development work. Why is this needed?

Love the problem not the solution

A research by Harvard business school´s Shikhar Ghost points out very clearly that 75 % of all startups fail. One reason behind the phenomenon is that business school methods are not directly adaptable to startups. Those principles are based on business logic and creating five year plans as a newly founded startup only has a service and it is still figuring out, what the business logic will be. Situation is pretty much the same for established companies, when they are aiming for service innovations. For a startup setting energy in creating business plan would be almost like writing phantasy stories as there are too many assumptions included.  But how often established companies fall into the same trap? My rough estimation is too often. We have the tendency to fall in love with our own solution and forget the customer experience. This is where the lean startup philosophy, or in this case the lean service creation steps in.

businessproblesmDuring the one-day work shop we were facilitated through the phases of the process by learning by doing in it practice. Despite the fact that we only had 6 hours of time, and we were not able to try all the phases nor to dig deeper in to the phases, the main message was clear: Love the problem and test and validate everything with your customers.

You can be the change

Although we only worked like 16 minutes with each of the phases continuing straight forward to the next step of the process, the work shop mastered to demonstrate the power of the facilitated process and design thinking principles. At the end of the day all the teams had developed really good ideas, that most had some potential for further development. We felt inspired and energized. I guess the commonly known story in many company is not the lack of ideas, but the ability to develop them further. It´s also very true that in many companies the culture doesn´t support the design thinking principles. Easily this leads into a conversation, where a bigger transformation is needed. But don´t fall into this trap, because then nothing is changed.  Here you have a very practical tool to start working with your ideas. You don´t need to be a designer to  start  figuring out, what motivates your customer.

Information about Ahto´17 can be found from the facebook group.

#designthinking #servicedesign #leanstartup #leanservicecreation #agiledevelopment