Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning from Improv

Russ Meyer has a great article on the Fast Company website.  Meyer offers some solid recommendations for how companies should go about trying to design better customer experiences.  For instance, imagine that you are trying to provide a better after-sale service experience for your customer, or you are trying to redesign the check-out process in your retail store.  Meyer draws on the lessons of Improv comedy to offer his advice to you in these types of efforts.   For starters, he argues:

"In improv, this means don’t disregard premise, no matter how outrageous... In experience design, you can’t start by denying what could be: 'We can’t change the check-in process because...,' for instance. For a great new customer experience to come to life, it will have to break some of the conventions of the current experience. Make sure you’re open, especially at the beginning of a process, to accept what may be an outrageous premise or idea."

Meyer also argues that "thoughtful watching" should be the approach one takes toward discovering a better customer experience.  In Improv, people concentrate intensely on what others are saying, and they listen actively.  Meyer explains, "Sitting back, watching, listening and concentrating on how people are presently experiencing the brand (while leaving yourself open to the outrageous) can identify moments where the experience could be improved."   Similarly, I've argued that systematic observations of customers and front-line employees yield powerful insights regarding your firm's problems and deficiencies, as well as how to improve in the future. 

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