How to inspire innovation through customer experience...
“Companies with a strong sense of purpose are able to transform and innovate better.”
That’s according to The Harvard EY Beacon Institute Survey, which showed that 53% of executives at companies with a strong sense of purpose said their organisation is successful with innovation and transformation efforts, while only 19% report success at companies who have not thought about purpose.
Deloitte Insights 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report also found that purpose-driven companies report 30% higher levels of innovation.
Clearly, the research is telling us that purpose inspires innovation. This has positive consequences for customer experience.
Customer Experience is how your customers experience your brand through every touchpoint, across the full customer journey from awareness through to consideration, action, conversion and advocacy.
Delivering a consistent, high quality experience can be incredibly challenging, especially for large businesses.
One of the most difficult things to manage in customer experience is the human factor. No matter how well you train people and how many processes you put in place, ultimately people are not robots. We respond in different ways to situations, from dealing with an angry customer to managing our own personal stresses inside or outside of work.
A purpose-driven business attracts employees who care about the positive societal change the organisation has committed itself to. These employees share a desire to be a part of an organisation that offers them meaningful work and they commit themselves to be in service of this higher purpose.
In other words, they are inspired to behave in ways that will achieve that higher purpose. Their decisions and actions are framed through this lens. This relates as much to customer service as it does to product innovation.
A higher purpose invites us to channel our humanity; our ability to love and have compassion and to consider the needs of others over our own.
A couple of examples may help to make this point more clearly.
Purpose guides new product innovation
What would you think of a clothing company deciding to get into the food business?
Crazy you may think? Actually no. Entirely rational, if you’re driven by a mission to save our home planet.
Patagonia is the perfect example of this. They are a unique company whose decisions and actions are inspired by their purpose.
Patagonia Provisions is their sustainable food line available in Patagonia stores and online. It was launched in recognition that nowhere is the need for solutions to the environmental crisis more pressing than in the food industry.
The drive for ever more profits has created practices that are unethical and unsustainable. The use of chemicals to maximise production, genetic modifications, quality of life of animals, transportation; all of these have led to the breakdown of our food chain.
Patagonia Provisions is about finding solutions to repair the chain. Since 2012 when they entered into this market, Patagonia have developed a range of regenerative and sustainable food products from seafood to soups and snacks to beer.
In the words of Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard in his “Why food” essay…
“To me, Provisions is more than just another business venture. It’s a matter of human survival.”
If you were someone who didn’t know what Patagonia stood for and you walked into one of their stores and saw their food range, it would most likely make you curious wouldn’t it? And when you learnt about why they had ventured into the food business, what would you think? I suspect it would deepen your admiration for Patagonia, assuming their purpose aligned with your own world view.
Daring to show your emotions
This next example, also from Patagonia, shows how their people’s passion for their Purpose becomes patently evident through the customer experience.
In 2020, a photo of a clothing tag sewn into Patagonia’s “Road to Regenerative” shorts started showing up on twitter. The underside of the tag had four words: “Vote The Assholes Out”. On Twitter, people wanted to know if it was real or a hoax. It was clearly relating to the upcoming US election. Who are the assholes? Politicians who deny science and the reality of climate change.
Apparently, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard uses this phrase a lot about politicians. But according to a journalist who called one of Patagonia’s senior Communications execs, it was the work of their creative design team. That exec and others weren’t even aware of the initiative and when they did find out, they decided to let the world find out about it on its own.
When Yvon found out about it, his response was to ask for a pair in his size.
Imagine being a Patagonia customer and hearing about this story or discovering it yourself. How would it make you feel about them?
A meaningful purpose will always impact the customer experience.
If your purpose is about the change your business exists to create in the world, then you won’t want to be modestly hiding it away from your customers. You’ll want them to be part of that movement for change, so that together, you can aim high and scale your collective impact.
FREE WEBINAR - CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Wednesday October 20th, 12:30pm - 1:30am (AEST)
If you want to activate your people and unlock a loyal market of consumers that advocate for your business- then having an authentic purpose is essential.
On the Wednesday October 20th, I’m going to be taking a deeper dive into this topic through our free webinar- Putting Purpose at the centre of CX. We’ll be building on the foundations we’ve covered in this blog and how you can action them, so you can start getting your business on a path to purpose.
...AND for every webinar attendee we also provide one day of education to a girl in need, to create strengthened family and safer communities. So if you have someone that you think might be interested in this series- bring them along!