Customer experience fuels innovation

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Jul 21, 2016

The purpose of innovation is to increase value. Ultimately that value is perceived by customers in the form of a superior experience. So what role does an understanding of customer experience play in innovation? For this #innochat, we welcome our guest Annette Franz (Gleneicki) @AnnetteFranz who understands customer experience.

Innovation takes many different forms in different fields. However, this topic is about the experience of customers. So we can assume that we are not referring to the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel. We are talking about the customers and suppliers of products.

The value that we receive, as customers, is represented by our overall experience of interaction with products that we choose, use and consume, and with the suppliers of those products. So, when discussing innovation, what better starting point is there than customer experience? And there is a lot to discuss!

In a post of June 2015 [1], Annette Franz provides “the simplest definition” of customer experience as:
(a) the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship lifecycle and
(b) the customer's feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand over the course of those interactions.

This definition captures a wide range of elements of customer experience. So there are multiple relationships between these elements and innovation. An important initial topic to discuss is the nature of those relationships and their relative importance. These will undoubtedly vary between organisations, product types, and industries.

Another topic is the relationship between customer experience and user experience. While some products are used by customers, some are used by other people, i.e. users. Customer experience and user experience might coincide in some situations but, in other cases, they might barely overlap at all.

From the perspective of a supplier, it is easy to make the mistake of considering that the experience of customers is based on the supplier’s involvement in that experience, which is more commonly referred to as customer service. Although many products have services elements, this is not only biased, it might well be completely wrong. For some customers, and some products, “Customer service is what happens when the customer experience breaks down” [1] In these cases, the customer service element might be better referred to as service recovery.

In any relationship between customer and supplier, purchaser and vendor, consumer and provider, client and (maybe) server, the structure of the relationship is usually fairly clear. Also the flow of value (in the form of products and payments) between the parties in the relationship is usually almost as clear. However it is often much less clear how that value is defined based on how those parties depend on one another and how the communication occurs between them. There is a substantial difference between defining the value transfer from the outside looking in, rather than from the inside looking out. This distinction, also known as pull rather than push, results in quite different priorities and metrics.

Taking customer experience as the starting point initiates an outside-in view which is much more likely to result in an accurate representation of the true value that customers gain from the relationship.

Finally, there is the issue of the balances to be struck both between customer experience and other aspects of value, and between the elements of customer experience. As in all things, there are often compromises to be made. For example, we can't have a product which is very easily accessible and also completely safe from abuse. So there are balances between ease-of-use and security, between power and weight, between multi-functionality and simplicity of interaction, etc..


Let’s discuss these and other other issues that arise in the context of innovation during #innochat on Twitter for an hour starting at 12noon Eastern time on Thursday July 21 2016, based on these questions:

  1. What role do you think that customer experience plays in innovation?
  2. How does customer experience relate to user experience?
  3. What is the relationship between customer service and customer experience?
  4. How does the view of customer experience from the outside-in compare with the inside-out view?
  5. How do we balance the importance of customer experience with other issues?


[1] “Customer Experience Isn't Just About Customer Service”, Annette Franz, 2015 June 9

“New Research: You’re Doing Customer Experience Innovation Wrong”, Kerry Bodine, Harvard Business Review 2013 June 27

“Moving at the Speed of Innovation”, Annette Franz, 2015 August 4

"Five Innovation Tips to Improve the Customer Experience", Mary Mesaglio, 2015 June 4

“Innovate - Don't Imitate”, Annette Franz, 2012 August 31

“Knowledge Without Understanding is Useless”, Annette Franz, 2016 March 29

“Why Innovation Must Build from Your Customer Experience”, Pete Sena, 2015 August 14

"10 Tips for Customer Experience Innovation", Lynn Hunsaker, (undated)

"Is Delighting The Customer Profitable?", Steve Denning, 2011 April 1

"The Customer Experience Is the Next Competitive Frontier",
Partha Iyengar, Gene Phifer, Ray Valdes, Jeffrey Cole
2012 November 1,

"Customer Experience Is the New Competitive Battlefield"
Ed Thompson | Jake Sorofman
2015 June 4


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