What does it mean to truly delight your customers? This question has been the center of debate for some time now. As the boundaries of innovation are constantly stretched, consumers have higher expectations. This manifests in many ways, whether this is in terms of the service experience or the product experience; consumers are expecting companies to know and understand them in a whole new context than ever before. No industry is spared from this “consumer revolution”, it effects retail, as much as it does healthcare, as much as it does automotives. So how do companies ensure that they are meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations in order to delight them? The first place to start is in understanding your customers more deeply and genuinely. This means getting truly curious about what they are thinking and feeling while interacting with your service or product. Not just looking at the analytics and data behind the insights but “getting out of the building” (to quote Eric Ries) and seeing it first-hand. Many times organizations skip over this step, and it is to their detriment. It is hard to delight your customers if you have never talked to them… Second, find quick ways to respond to the changing market. As you talk to customers, it’s important to turn needs and painpoints into solutions. This can be especially challenging in large companies and corporations where change is often slow. The top-down structure usually stagnates the ability to rapidly innovate. The way to counter-act this is to set up independent innovation teams within the organization. The size and composition of these internal innovation teams can differ, but the point is that they can supersede bureaucracy and take products and services to market more quickly. While smaller firms are more nimble, they also face challenges, like mustering up the manpower to create and produce ideas. Thus it’s important, for any size company, to dedicate time and resources to developing new concepts based on the voice of the customer. Lastly, when launching new services and products, invite a group of consumers to come play with you. Meaning, allow consumers to be part of the creating and prototyping of these new concepts. The heart of service design, really, is the co-creation aspect. Nothing should be created in a silo. Your company should always be testing ideas with consumers inside (and outside) of the target market to better understand how viable the product or service is. See, innovation really can be as simple as one, two, three. It just means you need to look at the way your firm operates and integrate the customers’ voice throughout the entire process, not just at the end when the product or service is launched. With a few tweaks, your firm could be well on its way to coming up with the next million-dollar idea.
To all of the unsung 9-to-5 heroes across America who spark out-of-the-cubicle thinking and drive your team to moments of brilliance—this one’s for you. For Rêve Consulting, our hero is Strategy Consultant, Jillian Brown. If it weren’t for her curiosity and her energy to drive Rêve’s participation in Target’s Simplicity Challenge, we never would have had a co-creative team jam session that kicked out a national winning idea. In the fall of 2013, Target created a crowd-sourced platform for their guests and the American public to submit their ideas for simplifying health care. The rules: make managing a condition or living a healthy lifestyle as simple as possible—and do it in 500 words or less by Oct. 22. In 324 words, we crafted an empathy-driven narrative for our Simply Balanced Café concept: Take-n-make healthy meals purchased on the go in a refreshed Target Café experience. By Friday Oct. 25, we were greeted with an email from Target letting us know that our idea was one of 8 semi-finalists out of 500+ entries. High-fives and atta-girl’s/boy’s filled our North Minneapolis office space as we celebrated our advancement on a national stage. With only 12 business days to turn around our final round video submission, we quickly jumped back into co-creation mode and began bringing our conceptual story to life. After many hours of scripting, sketching, sticky note arranging, storyboarding, iterating, designing, exporting, reviewing, tweaking, pacing, and final touching we submitted our 1:54 video of take-n-make goodness. A few weeks later, on the morning of Friday, Dec. 20, Rêve received a call from a Target representative who was excited to announce that our idea was a national winner! We were ecstatic about winning the challenge, the $25,000, and the opportunity to partner with Target to make Simply Balanced Café a reality. We were also affirmed in our empathy-driven, co-creative way of doing business—the Rêve way. As one of two winners, Rêve also had the opportunity to meet with Target leaders on Mar. 13, 2014 to present our idea, receive feedback, and continue a co-creative process moving forward. From our initial sticky notes filled jam session to the final presentation at Target’s headquarters, the Target Simplicity Challenge was an awesome, collaborative experience for our team—one that would never have happened without our hero nudging us to invest our collaborative energy into a 500-word submission. So go ahead. Think outside your cube and champion others to be amazing. You may end up being a hero, or better yet, changing some lives around you. Brilliant. More about the Target Simplicity Challenge: + Simplifying healthcare with healthy take-n-make meals + Simply Balanced Café: A National Winner
Photo Credit: Nicolas Fleury via photopin cc - What should be expected from a retail experience selling one product with a price point of $100K? Much has been made of Tesla disrupting the auto industry. This attention is well deserved as they are challenging entrenched incumbents in ways that is both novel and audacious. It starts with a mission beyond vehicles, and even transportation. The desire to reduce (and ultimately rid) our reliance on fossil fuels. Regardless of where you land on the global warming continuum, it is a noble purpose to galvanize a team toward a common goal. When you look at the exterior of a Tesla vehicle, it has a well-styled, yet familiar look. It is not until you get under the hood, literally, that you start to realize the full power of disruption. The level of thought and innovation is far beyond any of the early stage hybrid or electric competitors. The efficiency and styling are such that you realize you need not compromise some important (and traditional) decision factors. Some of the breakthroughs are so startling that it is not until later that you fully realize the brilliance. After seeing the “front trunk” and thinking, that is pretty cool, it was not until about 10 minutes later that I walked back and realized that the only familiar part, in fact, the only thing under the hood, other than more storage space was the area for windshield wiper fluid. The double trunk in the back is another reminder of how much additional “space” innovation can provide users. photo credit: www78 via photopin cc As much as I had heard about the disruption of the auto industry, I was more excited to step into a store. Last week, during a trip to California, I had the opportunity to visit a Tesla “showroom”. The experience is so radically different than any other vehicle buying experience that making a comparison is almost pointless. The elegantly designed showroom is all about the customer, from the “doggie station” that has treats and a water bowl to the low pressure / high energy atmosphere that is created by one lone team member. The employee may have responsibility for “sales” but is clearly more of a brand ambassador (or zealot). His explanation was infectious and made you wonder if he would be there even if the role was unpaid. The design is experiential, with a focus on engaging and educating you. The design is simple, so you can truly understand and dream of a different future. The design is multi-channel, with tactile analog elements as well as an interactive configurator on the wall. (One of my first jobs at GE was to help build a configurator, so I can appreciate the challenge in making something fairly complex into a fun and easy-to-use tool.) My experience, filled with high expectations, left me with an awestruck realization that while much is being made of how Tesla is most certainly disrupting the auto industry, they are also challenging some of the notions of how to create an engaging, omni-channel retail experience. Providing lessons in selling products that cost $100K that can inspire experiences at any price point.
I was just reading an article about Angela Ahredts’ passion for customer experiences in February’s Fast Company. As strategists and service designers, we love to read about and work with leaders who put their customers at the center of their strategy. Our clients come to us to help them grow. They understand that regardless of the industry, delivering on their brand promise at every customer interaction is critical. This goes beyond understanding the customer's journey. It needs to connect delivery into operations and ultimately into the organization’s culture. Many firms who provide UX (User Experience) or CX (Customer Experience) design and development can make these journeys come to life but they may not be able to integrate it back into how the organization needs to deliver on the experience in a repeatable way. The difference between service design and these other disciplines is that service designers understand how technology, process and people create the ecosystem for delivery. The work Ahredts and her team did at Burberry is a perfect example of the transformative potential of applying these principles to a classic brand in need of a refresh in the new omni-channel world of retail. Service design continues to be more understood in the U.S. We are excited to be one of only two Minnesota-based service design organizations and part of a new service design study by Forrester called Service Design Agency Overview. For more information of the state of service design across the U.S. and the globe, please consider purchasing this report.
We are excited to announce that our “Simply Balanced Café” idea is one of two winners for Target’s nationwide healthcare challenge! Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for our concept and for sharing it with your networks. You rock and you know it. As a Grand Prize winner for the “positive lifestyle” category, Rêve will receive $25,000 and will have the opportunity to collaborate with Target on the implementation of our Simply Balanced Café concept. Rêve plans to donate a large portion of the proceeds to it’s non-profit, Rêve Academy, an out-of-school program focused on providing a pathway to digital careers. Rêve also plans to make donations to other local organizations within the community. Target’s Simplicity Challenge was created as an opportunity for the American public to generate innovative solutions for simplifying healthcare for individuals, families, and communities. Submissions were entered in one of two categories: 1) Making positive lifestyle and prevention choices or 2) Helping people manage a health condition.1 To learn more about our Simply Balanced Café concept; the other Grand Prize winner, Raven C.’s (Stafford, TX) idea: Target Care Registry; or for more information regarding Target’s Simplicity Challenge visit targetsimplicitychallenge.com 1https://www.targetsimplicitychallenge.com/rules.html?cid=m.1800.b16c5298cc1514802b6cc12fded08e62.0
Rêve hosted a dozen digital leaders from multiple industries to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with integrating the omni-channel experience. We facilitated a halfday session, using service design methodology, to unearth the opportunities around three key areas of integration: channels, operations and content. We are happy to share some of the insights and hope the whitepaper will provide a useful framework. Download whitepaper >
Target recently issued a nationwide healthcare challenge. Target’s Simplicity Challenge was created as an opportunity for the American public to generate innovative solutions for simplifying healthcare for individuals, families, and communities. How would you simplify healthcare in America? Rêve Consulting answered that relevant question with an idea for convenient, healthy take-n-make options via a refreshed Target café experience. We are now one of 8 finalists! The “Simply Balanced Café” name leverages Target’s recent rebranding of it's Archer FarmsTM product line to Simply BalancedTM which is focused on delivering wholesome, organic, great-tasting choices. The Simply Balanced Café concept is a natural point of purchase for the refreshed product line. The concept also extends the Target brand experience beyond convenience and into healthcare transformation at an individual, family, and community scale. Rêve Consultant, Taylor Larson, agrees, “While our concept is cool, the intriguing part of Target pursuing our concept is that it realigns a component of the in-store experience that is currently not consistent with the Target brand.” The Challenge generated hundreds of entries from across the country. Submissions were entered in one of two categories: 1) Making positive lifestyle and prevention choices or 2) Helping people manage a health condition.1 A Grand Prize winner will be selected from each category and will receive $25,000 and trip for two to meet with Target leadership and the panel of industry experts, and as well, have the opportunity to collaborate with Target on implementation. The final 8 concepts were judged and selected by a panel of various healthcare, retail, and technology industry experts and thought leaders. The other finalist concepts range from medication tracking apps to well-being marketing to a personal, health shopping coach. The finalists came from all over the country (California 2, Tennessee 2, Texas 1) with half of the finalists residing in Minnesota (4). You can read more about the Challenge and each of the final entries at targetsimplicitychallenge.com. If you’d like to see the Simply Balanced Café concept become a reality in your Target visit Target Simplicity Gallery and vote for our idea under Carter R. Public voting closes on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. (EST). The grand prize winners will be announced mid-January 2014. 1https://www.targetsimplicitychallenge.com/rules.html?cid=m.1800.b16c5298cc1514802b6cc12fded08e62.0
One of the areas that Rêve is deeply passionate about is education. Not only due to our strategy work with clients like MinnCAN, Capella University, and Anoka Technical College, but also because of our experiences volunteering with students at Rêve Academy. As we share our strategy and service design skills with the Rêve Academy students, we have the opportunity to learn their stories and understand the effect that the digital divide has on their lives and future career prospects. Many Rêve Academy students do not have access to a computer or the Internet at home, making it difficult for them to develop the digital skills necessary to pursue careers in marketing or other tech-related fields. Rêve Academy programs (including Rêve Dev and Rêve Retail) provide an opportunity to gain valuable skills on the pathway to a digital career. In turn, working with the Rêve Academy students helps to inspire and motivate us in our work at Rêve Consulting. Our work with the students is a daily reminder for us that there are many people whose lives are affected by the recommendations and strategies that we develop. These are people with their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Here at Rêve, we always put people at the center of our work—whether it is helping teams to clarify their organizational vision or designing a service with the customer at heart. For us, it is the people who drive our work and give us a sense of purpose. We strive every day to provide direction for these people so that they can fulfill their personal and professional dreams. In particular, we enjoy partnering with other purpose-driven organizations that share our values. Next month, we are sponsoring Ed Jam from October 17 – 19 at SoMakers, a South Minneapolis Maker Space produced by DevJam, on 818 West 46th Street. Ed Jam will be a gathering of students, teachers, parents, non-profit leaders, school board members, designers, and developers who are interested in brainstorming innovative ways to close the academic achievement gap here in Minnesota. Through our work at Rêve Academy, we are reminded every day of the impact that this gap has on our community and we are excited to see all the solutions that “Jammers” dream up! During Ed Jam, we will be helping “Jammers” come up with ingenious ideas by using our design thinking methodology and tools to help them “dream with direction SM.” Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Joia all-natural soda will also be provided to keep everyone’s creative juices flowing, and educators can earn 12 CEUs! If you are interested in joining us for the Ed Jam, please register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/7256471301?ref=ebtnebregn For more information about Ed Jam, go to www.edjam.org.