After nearly three decades working in organisational learning, innovation and knowledge management across three different sectors - serving nearly a decade in each of not-for-profit, corporate and in Government sectors – I've seen the gap between brand promise and customer experience remains the same and in some industries has even widen.
Last year I brought my experience to Accenture Interactive to help organisations bridge the gap between brand promise and customer experience.
Here are some of my observations and what I believe are the necessary skillsets to develop a career helping organisations envision and create the best customer experiences.
Ideas are important but alignment with user needs is key
“Everybody give us your ideas, and we’ll turn them into gold” - There are better ways to approach and encourage innovation and understanding how to align ideas with user needs is critical to success..
Difficult situations can inspire ingenious solutions. “Innovation jams” and “innovation challenges” are great, but it’s not good enough to simply come up with an idea. Innovation initiatives should always be grounded in a solid understanding of the problem, which is the essences of user-centred design.
We need to resist jumping to solutions before we properly understand what we’re trying to achieve – what the users need. Identifying and understanding user needs ensures we develop and progress ideas, concepts and solutions that will address them. Ideas that don’t align with, or address user needs are destined to perish in the graveyard of innovation gone by.
Core skillsets for digital marketing
Ongoing personal and professional development is essential for success in this field. Some of the skills I learned 30 years ago are no longer relevant so continuous learning is essential.
Accenture has a strong focus on helping our people to get up to speed, to build knowledge and skills, and develop effective behaviours needed to get there.
I encourage people to build capabilities around the new ways of working. This includes learning more about ‘design thinking’, adopting the principles of service design, engaging users, committing to discovery and user research and involving users throughout development and testing.
These skills and disciplines are not just useful if you want to work in Accenture Interactive - they’re useful for everyone. Across all our business lines and industry segments, digital transformation through service design is a reality which permeates it all.
Another core capability is agile delivery, which is as much a mindset as it is a skillset.
Agile brings a new way of working together. We need to move away from waterfall development, where analysts and designers first to do their bit, then pass it on to the builders, then to testers, only to have users say at the end “this is not what I wanted!”.
This “waterfall approach”, which I’ve seen in operation for many years, is no longer sufficient to meet rapidly changing customer demands.
Instead of taking years to release something big and new, we need to work in much shorter cycles. We need to listen to users, build something small and useful and get it out there. Then we can iterate and build on it. We need to work in smaller iterations and cycles, delivering value in smaller packages, faster and more often.
All of these skillsets combine to make us more adaptable and flexible, to cope with the ongoing rate of change. Organisations are often stuck with legacy systems and outdated approaches – but we can slowly and surely adopt and practice some core principles and move toward an agile environment.
We can then in turn help close the chasm between what the brand promises and what the customers experience.
Damien and his crazy but amazing family