Chris Voss and Leonieke Zomerdijk of the London Business School released a long-ish paper back in June 2007 about the role of customer experience in designing innovative services. See the full report online: Innovation in Experiential Services: An Empirical View (pdf).
They looked case-based field studies from nearly 100 companies (mostly in the UK and US) since 2003. From the executive summary:
“The research found that experiential services are often designed from the perspective of the customer journey rather than as a single product or transaction; the service is seen as a journey that spans a longer period of time and consists of multiple components and multiple touchpoints. The journey perspective implies that a customer experience is built over an extended period of time, starting before and ending after the actual sales experience or transaction. During a customer journey, numerous touchpoints occur between the customer and the organisation or the brand. These touchpoints need to be carefully designed and managed. The research shows that innovation takes place at each of these touchpoints as well as of the overall journey itself.”
Of course, the journey view of customer service puts the customer at the center of attention and not the technology (as with many traditional innovation perspectives). And the journey perspective is broader in scope since it essentially can look at any touchpoint between the customer and service.
How do you get the right journey perspective? Like many of the successful innovators in the study, you should go out an observe people:
“With regard to the process of innovation in experiential services, the research revealed that many innovations were driven by detailed insights into customers. Both design and consultancy firms and experiential service providers invested a large amount of time and effort in conducting research leading to insights in customers’ behaviour, needs and preferences. Common techniques were traditional market research, empathic research to understand customers at an emotional level, trend watching and learning from companies in different industries. This indicates that experiential innovations are typically customer rather than technology driven.”
Check out the full study. It’s not short, but written fairly straightforward in accessible language.