Stephen Johnson once said, “The future is where most people are having fun.” How can you, as a leader, enhance customer experience with play? Companies such as Ticktoc, Netflix, Hulu, Disney, etc., are thriving from creating the best customer experience. They are willing to be innovative, take risks, and have fun.
At CX Global Media and Call Center Coach, one of the things we hold sacred is the things that impact customer experience because customer experience is important for defining your brand. In my interview with Jeff Harry, an international speaker, we discuss the importance of play at work and enhancing CX with play through creative problem-solving.
Whoever is willing to fail the most is likely to succeed the most in the current economic climate. When was the last time you went out of your way to do something thoughtful for your customers? Customers are what keep your business afloat during tough times.
For instance, in 2020, despite the pandemic, online shopping increased by 59% compared to 2019. This shows that, even in tough times, customers are still willing to spend on the brands they believe in.
We often think about growing our customer base more than we do keeping our customer base. What are you doing to maintain your customer base?
1. Think Outside The Box When It Comes To Customer Experience
Jeff Harry shared an interesting example of why it is important to think outside the box regarding customer experience. A guy who owns a wine library had a client buy wine worth $150. Although it wasn’t that big of a sale, he told his staff to look up this customer on Twitter.
When they found the guy, they realized he was a huge Jay Cutler fan. They bought him a signed Cutler Jersey and mailed it to him. Even though they did not respond from the client for several months, an order worth $6000 came in from someone who told them that they were a customer friend they had bought a signed Jay Cutler jersey for.
This shows that when we invest in customer experience, it pays later on in the future. The guy who owns the wine library allowed his staff to be creative about the customer experience they offer.
The play and the creative thinking allows people to think about things they otherwise would not have thought about.
It is important to rethink how you are connecting with your customers. Because of the pandemic, we are often talking about the ‘new normal.’ That means doing things differently.
2. Understand What is Play at Work and Why It Matters To Improve Customer Experience
Play is any joyful act where you forget about time. It has no purpose and has no result. You do not have anxiety about the future and no regrets about the past. You are fully present, you are in the zone, and you are fully inflow. That means as a leader; you need to be fully aware of what each o your staff enjoys doing the most at work.
Marcus Buckingham refers to it as your red thread work, and Gay Hendricks refers to it as your zone of genius. Your zone of genius is when you are doing what you are good at that makes you come alive.
How much time do you spend doing it?
If you spend 10% of your time doing the work you enjoy, think about how you can turn it into 15%. Being able to do that productive thing that you love the most causes a ripple effect on the rest of your productivity.
For example, Google does a 20% program where they give their staff a fifth of their time to pursue things that make them curious as long as it helps the business. Because of this Google 20% program, Gmail was created as well as Google meet. Billion-dollar ventures came from allowing their staff to pursue their curiosity.
A survey by American Workplace showed that only 35% of workers are only given time to be creative at work a few times per year. This shows that not many companies are making enough time for play and creativity. Give your staff an hour or two per day to explore their curiosity. This will help enhance customer experience with play and boost creative problem-solving.
3. Create The Right Environment to Boost Customer Experience With Play and Creativity
The ability of your company to experiment and see how things work out is important. You have to try small experiments and see how things work out, instead of doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting new results.
It is important to create an environment that allows people to experiment and play around with their creativity. The current education system hinders people’s creative thinking ability and skills. However, the best ideas are the ones created without any judgment.
If you are a leader, you need to think about streamlining and enabling your organization to have more divergent thinking. This will enable you to have greater and more beneficial, and higher value outputs in your organization. Ironically, before Covid, we used to sit in a box-shaped room, around a box-shaped table, and brainstorm ideas. We expected ourselves to think outside the box when our environment resembled a box.
This kind of setup is not necessarily favorable for creative flow. Now that most businesses are working virtually, there are several ways that you can incorporate creative thinking as part of virtual team building activities. Virtual team building activities can help you enhance CX with play.
It is also beneficial to have brainstorming sessions where all ideas are welcome, and there is no right or wrong idea. The best ideas that you can resonate with as a team can be circled later. Allow your team to think about the craziest ideas to address a customer experience solution.
According to Puccio, Creative problem-solving sessions with groups with minimal training in creative tools and principles generated 350% as many ideas than groups without training; these ideas were 415% more original.
In a post by Bloomberg Businessweek, recruiters rank creative problem solving as the second most difficult skill to find among job applicants.
This means that most people that start a job are not well equipped in the creativity area. As a leader, if you want to enhance customer experience with play, it is your responsibility to empower your team with tools and means to become more creative.
Customer experience in present times and the future will depend on how creative you are as a business.
Watch My Interview With Jeff Harry
- How are you as a leader creating an environment that promotes creativity in your company?
- Do you allow your agents time to play at work? How has it impacted your customer experience?
- Do you think creativity can enhance customer experience?
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.