Excellent customer experience (CX) is no mistake. It’s something companies strive to provide – and think differently to create. To approach CX through a creative lens, consider hosting brainstorming sessions that allow ideas to flow freely and disallow concepts from getting shot down. Doing both puts organizations in a better position to deliver superior CX.
As part of our 2022 CX Masterclass Series, we discussed the importance of innovation in creating CX with keynote speaker Duncan Wardle, who bookends our series as our first and last Masterclass speaker.
Wardle draws from 30 years of expertise at the Walt Disney Company, where he was head of Creativity and Innovation, to help companies think outside the box and transform from product-centricity to customer-centricity.
During his opening session, he encouraged replacing “no because” brainstorm sessions with “yes and” during ideation. The thrust of the concept was to replace negative with positive thinking and to welcome all ideas. Wardle also suggested companies provide an energizing ideation space and allow employees to carve out time to simply think, which can spark creativity and innovation.
His most recent session dove deeper into four brainstorming ideas introduced in our initial masterclass keynote - ideas that can be used to deliver CX magic.
Communicate ideas in complete sentences
During a brainstorming session, participants can start by putting together a list of bullet-pointed ideas, but they should then take that list by transitioning these ideas into organized thoughts. According to Duncan, this is best executed through a 3-4 sentence overview of the idea, allowing it pull in key details that create a formulated idea.
Duncan believes brainstorming this way can create a more complete, descriptive concept that’s likelier to gain traction and team buy-in than a bulleted list of items. Additionally, it helps overcome the common brainstorming problems of looking back at a list of ideas and struggling to remember what was meant by one particular bullet point.
Since groupthink kills creativity, invite a naïve expert
Innovative ideas rarely occur in a room of like-minded people – or even those in the same department. To spur audacious, interesting ideas that could lead to greater CX, invite someone from another department or background – ungoverned by the same “rivers of thinking” as the rest of the brainstorming group. This is your “naïve expert” or group of “naïve experts” – those with different expertise and experience who will be more likely to think of concepts other participants wouldn’t.
For your next brainstorm, invite those you wouldn’t normally consider: people from other departments, professions, companies, genders, ages and/or nationalities, for instance. By expanding and varying brainstorming circles, the outcome will likewise become more expansive and varied.
Cultivate expansive thinking by asking “how might we …?”
Rather than asking participants for their ideas about a topic, consider having them answer, “how might we ____ ?” to improve brainstorm engagement. First, this question is helpful to introverts or more inexperienced brainstormers who may need more context to speak up. It can also provide creative teams with guidance around the ideation/creation for the concepts that come out of brainstorms.
Lastly, it can allow deeper level brainstorming if the moderator continues to ask the question to drill down into a particular idea. For example, after someone provides an initial answer to, “how might we____?” the brainstorm moderator could ask it again in a different way, “That’s a good idea. How might we execute this within _____?”
By using this expansive thinking, “How might we…?” question as a guide, brands are in a better position to solve a particular challenge their customers and prospects face.
Look at others’ successes for inspiration
Successful brands are successful for a reason. When trying to solve a CX problem or better relate to a particular audience, take a look at the brands that are succeeding at what you’re trying to do for guidance.
With this exercise, create a list of target brands and drill down to discover what they do well and what can be replicated. This includes looking at a company’s characteristics, messaging, purpose, position, etc. Ultimately, the goal is to better understand these strengths and identify ways to apply them to your company.
It’s time to elevate your customer experience
No one ever said innovation is easy. It’s not. But by using these four creative ideas to shake up brainstorming sessions, companies are much likelier to create innovative CX that not only resonates with their audiences but sets their brand apart.