Tag Archives: Customer Experience

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of July 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of July 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are July’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. What Latest Research Reveals About Innovation Management Software — by Jesse Nieminen
  2. Top Five Reasons Customers Don’t Return — by Shep Hyken
  3. Five Myths That Kill Change and Transformation — by Greg Satell
  4. How the Customer in 9C Saved Continental Airlines from Bankruptcy — by Howard Tiersky
  5. Changing Your Innovator’s DNA — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  6. Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation — by Greg Satell
  7. We Must Rethink the Future of Technology — by Greg Satell
  8. Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space — by Chris Rollins
  9. Sickcare AI Field Notes — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  10. Cultivate Innovation by Managing with Empathy — by Douglas Ferguson

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in June that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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Three Lessons for Creating Better Customer Experiences

Three Lessons for Creating Better Customer Experiences

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Customer behavior is changing. Expectations are higher. There’s tension between customers and the brands they do business with. The willingness to leave one brand to do business with another has never been higher.

Lance Gruner, Executive Vice President of Global Customer Care at MasterCard, was one of the keynote speakers at CCW (Contact Center Week), the industry’s largest conference and trade show of its kind. More than 3,000 attendees listened to Gruner share lessons he learned while running customer service teams worldwide for one of the most recognized brands in the world.

Gruner started with a story about lost luggage during a recent trip to Ireland. The airline eventually found it, but it wasn’t an easy experience and seemed to take more effort than necessary. Even though his luggage was eventually returned to him, Gruner realized there was a bigger issue, which was how the incident was handled. His point was something most companies and brands are guilty of. They may fix the customer’s problem, but there is a more significant issue. In Gruner’s words, “We must focus on the root and not the symptom.”

In this example, the symptom is the lost luggage, and the root is how employees handle the customer.

Whether they know it or not, what customers want isn’t that complicated. They want to trust that brands will do what they promise. If by chance, things aren’t working out the way they should, they want to trust that a brand will have their back and fix what needs to be fixed. Sounds simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy.

Gruner shared how MasterCard does this. Eighty-four percent of MasterCard’s customers are delighted with their experience. “We still have a ways to go,” admits Gruner. He shared three things MasterCard is doing to drive that improvement.

1. Focus on customers, and specifically, the effort customers go through to do business with you. Just ask the question, “Are we making it easy for our customers?” High customer satisfaction marks—and loyalty—happen when a brand can meet customers where they are. Being available on the phone and digital platforms, such as chat, text, social media and other channels, is important to giving customers an easy experience.

2. Use technology and data to support this effort. Data is powerful when used the right way. Data gives you customer insights that help identify trends. Used correctly, you not only meet the customer’s current needs, you can also predict what they will want and expect in the future. Knowing where customers are going before they do is a powerful way to build trust and loyalty. So, leverage data. Don’t just collect it. Study it and use it to create a better customer experience (CX).

3. Focus on employees. Gruner knows there are employee issues. What is known as the Great Resignation started long before the pandemic, but it has accelerated. In addition to Baby Boomers and Gen-X taking retirement, employees are evaluating their lifestyles. Their wellbeing is paramount to their happiness at a company. Gruner emphasizes the importance of focusing on “our people.” Just as customers must believe in the brand, so must employees. He smiled when he said that 95% of MasterCard employees are proud to be part of the brand. They understand that work is more than just a job to some. They want to be part of something bigger. Gruner says, “We are doing well by doing good.” MasterCard is focused on a workforce that is inclusive and diverse. It believes in sustainability and giving back to the community. Employees appreciate and embrace this effort.

Pay close attention to lesson number three. Circling back to Gruner’s comment about the root versus the symptom, employees are the root. They have great control over the outcome of a customer’s problem. When employees are properly trained and appreciated for making good decisions, customer experience magic happens. How employees feel about their jobs and how customers feel about the company go hand-in-hand. What’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside by the customer. If you want your customers to be happy, start looking inside your company. It has never been more important to focus on employees as part of your customer service and CX strategy.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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Announcing Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly

Human-Centered Change and Innovation Weekly Newsletter

We’re about two months into the re-birth and re-branding of Blogging Innovation as Human-Centered Change and Innovation.

At the same time I brought my multiple author blog back to life, I also created a weekly newsletter to bring all of this great content to your inbox every Tuesday.

Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly brings four or five great articles as an email to you from myself and a growing roster of talented and insightful contributing authors, including:

Robert B. Tucker, Janet Sernack, Greg Satell, Linda Naiman, Howard Tiersky, Paul Sloane, Rachel Audige, Arlen Meyers, John Bessant, Phil Buckley, Jesse Nieminen, Anthony Mills, Nicolas Bry and your host Braden Kelley.

You can sign up for the newsletter here:


I would be interested to know whether you prefer:

  1. Tuesday
  2. Sunday

And, if you’ve missed out on previous issues and would like to explore them, you’ll find the links below:

Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly

Finally, if you know a globally recognized human-centered design, change, innovation, transformation or customer experience author that should be contributing guest articles to the blog and newsletter, have them contact us.

I hope you continue to find value in everyone’s contributions to the conversations around human-centered change, innovation, transformation and experience design!

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Don’t Forget to Innovate the Customer Experience

Don't Forget to Innovate the Customer Experience

Too often we speak about Innovation, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation, Employee Experience and Organizational Change as very distinct and separate things.

But is this the right approach?

Those of you who have read both my first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire and my second book Charting Change know that the main reason that the second book even exists is because innovation is all about change.

Apple couldn’t bring the iPod, iTunes and the iTunes store to market without inflicting incredible amounts of change upon the organization and building many different new organizational capabilities and hiring many new types of people with many types of expertise new to the organization.

I’ve also written about BIG C and little c change, with BIG C change including transformations of many types (including digital) and little C change including projects and other small initiatives. And yes, every project changes something, so every project is a change initiative. And so yes, project management is in fact a subset of change management, not the typical wrong way ’round that change management is usually made subservient to project management.

Stop it!

Architecting the Organization for Change

For an invention to have any chance of becoming an innovation, the organization must transform, and to do this well we must design corresponding changes in both employee experience and customer experience to accelerate and integrate:

  1. Value Creation
  2. Value Access
  3. Value Translation

See my important article Innovation is All About Value for more background on these three phrases.

Because of the interconnectedness between innovation, change, transformation, customer experience and employee experience we must look at these different specialties holistically and in a coordinated way if we are to maximize our chances of successfully completing the journey from invention to innovation.

Service Design and Journey Mapping have a role to play, as does Human-Centered Design because people are at the heart of innovation and transformation. These tools can help uncover the customer needs and help visualize what the NEW experiences must look like for both employees and customers to maximize the holistic value created and the ability of customers to access that value as effortlessly as possible.

As we work to design the potential innovation as a product or a service or a combination of the two, we must also consciously design the customer experience and employee experience to enhance to possibilities of this invention becoming an innovation. This includes potentially designing OUT touchpoints in current journeys that people may taken as a given, but maybe no longer need to exist if we are truly keeping the customer and their wants/needs at the center of our focus.

As part of your innovation activities, consider creating customer and employee journey maps, printing them poster size and placing them front and center on your innovation wonder wall so that you can ask your innovation team the following questions:

  1. What is different about this customer or employee touchpoint when considering our potential innovation?
  2. How could we design out the need for this customer or employee touchpoint?
  3. With our potential innovation, what customer or employee touchpoints may no longer be necessary?
  4. With our potential innovation, what new customer or employee touchpoints may we need to create?
  5. What organizational and employee knowledge and capabilities are we missing, that we must have, to deliver the necessary and expected customer and employee experiences?

As we explore these questions, they allow us to look beyond the product or service that forms the basis of the potential innovation that we are creating and create more value around it, to make our customers’ and employees’ experiences of our potential innovation better, and to increase our chances of more successfully translating the holistic value for its potential customers.

Customer and employee experiences are not detached and separate from the new products and services forming the basis of your innovation activities.

The change and transformation that accompany innovation are not separate either.

We must look at all of these specialties together and not see them as isolated things, otherwise we will fail.

So keep innovating, but be sure and consider the change and transformation necessary to help you be successful and how you are going to innovate your customer and employee experiences at the same time!

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At the Heart of Successful Digital Transformations are Humans and Data

At the Heart of Successful Digital Transformations are Humans and Data

Digital transformation has become an overused buzzword.

When most people speak about digital transformation, they are really speaking about digitization, digitalization, or digital strategy.

They are all very different and none of them are digital transformation.

Let’s look at each of these four terms so that we can be very clear about what we are talking about:

  1. Digitization – Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e. computer-readable) format (source: Wikipedia)
  2. Digitalization – Digitalization is the adaptation of a system, process, etc. to be operated with the use of computers and the internet (source: Oxford Dictionary)
  3. Digital strategy – In the fields of strategic management, marketing strategy, and business strategy, digital strategy is the process of specifying an organization’s vision, goals, opportunities and related activities in order to maximize the business benefits of digital initiatives to the organization (source: Wikipedia)
  4. Digital transformation – A digital transformation is the journey between a company’s current business operations to a reimagined version from the perspective of how a digital native would build the same business operations leveraging the latest technology and scientific understandings of management science, leadership, decision science, business and process architecture, design, customer experience, etc. (source: bradenkelley.com)

At the heart of successful digital transformation, innovation, disruption, and even customer experience are two things:

  • Humans
  • Data

Continue reading on the HCL Technology Blog


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The Rise of Employee Relationship Management (ERM)

The Rise of Employee Relationship Management (ERM)

What’s in a name?

From the early days when HR was referred to as workforce management or personnel management, to the emergence of scientific management and labor unions, the practice of human resources has been constantly evolving.

The name for the practice and principles of getting the most out of people in business has continued to change too, with the latest term ‘human resources’ coming into being along with an acceptance that human factors were more important than physical factors and monetary rewards for motivation.

The Accelerating Pace of Change

But, in an era when the pace of change and transformation are constantly accelerating and innovation is increasingly important to maintaining relevance, should we still be focused on ‘human resources’? Or does our view and language need to evolve?

Every day customer experience becomes more crucial to market success, and more people are talking about happy employees as being the key to happy customers. But, are employers backing up this talk?

Today most digital transformations have at their heart, several elements of an evolved customer relationship management (CRM) approach and often one or more customer journey maps.

The Shift from HCM to ERM

So, should we be shifting our views from a focus on Human Capital Management (HCM) to a focus on ERM (Employee Relationship Management) and EX (Employee Experience) to mirror how we are thinking about the importance of employees as something not to be managed but instead to be empowered, supported and developed?

And how will Generation Z change expectations of employers?

Making a shift in our mindset and our language when it comes to employees, could also cause us to focus on different metrics – shifting from a focus on controlling the costs of salaries and benefits to optimizing employee lifetime value (ELV).

Unlocking the True Value of Employees

Employees are not just a cost, they are a source of incredible value and to unlock their full potential we must invest in helping them maximize the value they can create, access, and translate for customers. Me must go beyond training and invest in even more powerful initiatives like human libraries and internal internships to help each employee not just do the job they were hired to do, but to do the job they were born to do.

Innovators Framework(one of the many concepts introduced in my first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire)

Building on the work of London Business School’s Gary Hamel and shifting to an Employee Relationship Management (ERM) mindset we can get beyond the obedience, diligence and intellect that fear, greed, management and leadership can deliver, and instead focus on unlocking the initiative, creativity, passion and innovation that will drive the organization to higher levels of success and continuing relevance with customers.

Employee Relationship Management (ERM) is the Future of HR

We must reimagine our approach to the humans in our organizations and to recognize and leverage their uniqueness instead of treating them as replaceable cogs in a machine.

The time has come for organizations to manage both the experiences and the relationships with each of their employees as individuals to make the collective stronger, healthier, and more resilient.

Now is the time to build a conscious, measured, professional approach to Employee Relationship Management (ERM).

What say you?


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Starbucks Upgrading the Last Minute of the Mobile Ordering Journey

Starbucks Upgrading the Last Minute of the Mobile Ordering Journey

Starbucks is definitely regarded as an innovator in the mobile commerce and loyalty space.

Starbucks was one of the first retailers (2008) to successfully introduce a card-based loyalty program with broad adoption – the Starbucks card – which not only had loyalty benefits for customers but also could be used as a means of payment.

Building from this, Starbucks created a mobile app early in the smartphone era that mirrored many of the capabilities of the Starbucks card, allowing people to not only pay with their mobile phone (backed by a credit card), but to check their points and payment balances.

Starbucks then launched mobile order & pay in Portland near the end of 2014 before beginning to release it more broadly in 2015.

All of Starbucks’ loyalty and mobile technology inventions positioned the company quite well to survive the COVID-19 shutdowns around the world.

Starbucks Mobile Ordering

Personally I try to keep as many apps OFF my phone as possible. So, it wasn’t until the coronavirus restrictions that I finally caved in and downloaded the Starbucks app. The reason?

Given the pandemic, the last thing I wanted to do was stand around in an enclosed space with suspect ventilation waiting for my Starbucks beverage any longer than I had do. So, I downloaded the app and began ordering my drink from the car and waiting 4-5 minutes (or longer if they looked busy) before going inside to get my drink.

What I found annoying though was that the app gave an estimate that often was in the 15-23 minute range, despite the fact that it rarely took more than five minutes, and there was no notification when my drink was ready.

I started designing a better approach in my mind, and was about to suggest it to Starbucks when I happened upon what is likely a pilot in one of my local Starbucks. It looks like this:

Starbucks Mobile Order Board

At this particular pilot Starbucks they have this flat screen that shows the people who have mobile orders placed (in alphabetical order) and then the Starbucks employee at the end of the line has a tablet they manage.

When an order is complete, the Starbucks employee updates the order status to ‘READY’ on the tablet, the image on the board changes to show a READY indicator, and a text message is sent to the person’s phone.

When the customer picks up their order, then the Starbucks employee marks it ‘PICKED UP’ on the tablet so that the person’s name is removed from the board.

This is very close to the idea that I was going to propose, but with one big exception.

My idea was to suggest printing out an enhanced bar code that could be scanned at the end of the line by the barista to trigger the text message – instead of using a tablet and a screen. This could have been a much simpler and cheaper approach both in terms of technology and labor.

Either way, there is no doubt that Starbucks continues to experiment and push for improvements in the last minute of the mobile ordering journey to create a great experience. This enables them to keep their employees and customers healthy and safe, and keep Starbucks ahead of their competition.

Keep innovating!

Image (2) credit: Digitaltrends.com


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What is digital transformation? – EPISODE THREE – Ask the Consultant

Live from the Innovation Studio comes EPISODE THREE of a new ‘Ask the Consultant’ series of short form videos. EPISODE THREE aims to answer a question that many people struggle to answer or accurately discuss:

“What is digital transformation?”

Digital transformation is a complicated topic for people to speak intelligently about and to explore in depth because there is so much misinformation and confusion about what a digital transformation actually is – a lot of it espoused by technology vendors.

Together in this episode we’ll explore what digital transformation is by looking at two definitions that show what digital transformation is not.

1. Wikipedia’s bad definition of Digital Transformation

“Digital Transformation (DT or DX) is the adoption of digital technology to transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology. Digital solutions may enable – in addition to efficiency via automation – new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting traditional methods.”

— Wikipedia

2. This Definition of Digital Transformation Gets Closer But Still Isn’t Right

“Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.”

— EnterprisersProject

So, let’s dig into what Digital Transformation really is …

A digital transformation is the journey between a company’s current business operations to a reimagined version of itself from the perspective of how a digital native would build the same business operations leveraging the latest technology and scientific understandings of management science, leadership, decision science, business and process architecture, design, customer experience, etc.

A digital transformation can only be successfully achieved if you put customers and employees at the center to create a human-centered data model and explore the intersection between what’s needed and what’s possible to simplify processes, reduce complexity, and to design elegant experiences.

The key thing to remember is that technology comes at the end, not the beginning, starts by making strategic choices, and focuses on identifying and building the needed capabilities to execute the new strategy.

Here is a quick review list of ten things to keep in mind for a successful digital transformation:

  1. Reimagine your business from a digital native perspective
  2. A Human-Centered Data Model (customers & employees)
  3. Put your customers and employees at the center
  4. Identify intersection of what’s needed & what’s possible
  5. Simplify processes
  6. Reduce complexity
  7. Design elegant experiences
  8. Technology comes at the END – not the beginning
  9. Start by making strategic choices
  10. Build capabilities needed to achieve your transformation

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Help Shape the Next ‘Ask the Consultant’ Episode

  1. Grab a great deal on Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire on Amazon while they last!
  2. Get a copy of my latest book Charting Change on Amazon
  3. Contact me with your question for the next video episode of “Ask the Consultant” live from my innovation studio

Below are the previous episodes of ‘Ask the Consultant’:

  1. EPISODE ONE – What is innovation?
  2. EPISODE TWO – How do I create continuous innovation in my organization?
  3. All other episodes of Ask the Consultant


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Why Your Digital Transformation May Be Doomed to Fail

Why Your Digital Transformation May Be Doomed to Fail

Digital Transformation, like Innovation, has become an overused buzzword that is losing its meaning. Whoever created the Wikipedia page for Digital Transformation defines it this way:

“Digital Transformation (DT or DX) is the adoption of digital technology to transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology. Digital solutions may enable – in addition to efficiency via automation – new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting traditional methods.”Wikipedia

This definition is too focused on technology as the source of the transformation instead of the transformation being driven by the needs of customers and employees. In my view, technology should always be seen simply as a tool to help achieve the desired human-centered transformation.

Too often the SaaS and Cloud vendors co-opt the true practice of digital transformation by trying to claim that a shifting from on-premise software to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is somehow a digital transformation or that going to the Cloud is the secret to everything that troubles your organization.

None of this of course is true in and of itself.

This definition of digital transformation from EnterprisersProject is a bit closer to the truth:

“Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.”

But, even this definition doesn’t go far enough…

Number One Reason Your Digital Transformation May Be Doomed to Fail

The primary reason your digital transformation will fail or take much longer than you expect, or possibly even than you can fund, is the failure of the organization to put the customer and the employee at the center of its data model and to be able to construct a fully-linked and coherent picture of every customer and employee’s body of interactions/transactions/experiences across the enterprise.

When you lack this ‘single source of truth’ and this ability to connect everything together, you greatly increase the chances that your well-intentioned digital transformation will fail or will be abandoned when you run out money.

Defining What Successful Digital Transformations Look and Sound Like

Successful digital transformations are human-centered transformations empowered and accelerated by the proper use of technology in support of the desired experiences and outcomes. You can’t have a human-centered transformation without a human-centered data model. You also can’t have a human-centered transformation without a holistic understand of what information customers and employees are looking for, what information you have, what they want to do using your digital infrastructure, what they can do with your digital infrastructure, and where the gaps are.

One of the many tools in the Change Planning Toolkit™ is a series of worksheets that help you explore these foundational questions for a successful human-centered digital transformation.

While you can improve the organization through a judicious use of technology in absence of a consciously designed human-centered data model, you cannot digitally transform the organization without doing this difficult work.

The disruption that many startups attempt against the incumbents is achieved because they start with a human-centered data model. Their approach leverages technology where appropriate to add value and remove friction from the human-centered design of their customer experience instead of trying to force customers to use new and often disparate technology experiences. It is a subtle but important distinction. We must be careful not to let the servant become the master.

So, what is driving your digital transformation?

Do you need help creating a human-centered design?

If so, contact me.

Change Planning Toolkit Backed By Million Dollar Investment

Image credit: Pixabay

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