Here are just some examples of the successful innovations that have been implemented as a result of the Customer Cup:
- Reducing the time taken to resolve certain types of household insurance claims – from the industry standard of 11 days to just a few minutes – by leveraging Aviva’s relationships with some key suppliers.
- Creating AI-enabled, always-open Aviva virtual offices that give customers the immediacy of 24/7 service at a lower operational cost to the business. Although this example was not discussed in any depth at the breakfast it was mentioned in the initial invitation.
- Developing a crowd-funding solution to enable entrepreneurs to buy their own commercial properties. Again, there was insufficient time to discuss this idea at the breakfast session but it was featured in the event invitation.
In the lively discussion that followed Richard’s presentation, several interesting aspects of innovation and ideation programmes were explored, including:
- The importance of capturing the “smaller gems”. Ideas that may not be serious candidates for the Grand Final are, nonetheless, well worth picking up and implementing. Richard observed that the Wazoku platform was particularly useful here, enabling these smaller ideas to be managed and progressed independently.
- The question: should the people who come up with the idea be allowed to work on its implementation? Richard’s honest answer was: “It depends”. We have seen people come out of their day job and work on implementation projects. At the same time, it is true that people often lack the essential responsibility, skills and/or experience to implement ideas. However, where they are fully qualified to steer the implementation, there is obvious benefit in giving people this freedom – with the added bonus of a good story for internal communication.”
- The benefit of shifting the focus of innovation from an ‘Organisation-out’ (often misleadingly referred to as ‘Customer-centric’) perspective to a genuinely “customer-in” viewpoint. It is crucial to see your organisation from the customer’s standpoint.
- The challenge of countering the ‘Not Invented Here’ syndrome. Early collaboration is essential to overcoming the reluctance of some individuals to accept improvement and innovation recommendations from people outside their area of responsibility.
- The benefit of focusing not just on internal problems but also on customer frustrations. Customer dissatisfaction is often the driver of powerful innovations. There was a healthy discussion around the benefits of co-creating the definition of problems with carefully selected customers.
- The need for speed in delivering the incremental and rapid iteration of ideas. The Customer Cup itself is a flagship programme that is necessarily played out over a longer timeframe (the longest part is actually the initial engagement programme and idea generation). However, it was generally agreed that the time from idea to innovation should be measured in weeks rather than months.
- The advantage of having an Innovation Playbook to guide people in, for example: formulating an idea properly… running a hackathon etc.
- The best way to encourage individual employees to generate an idea and then to build a team to champion it. Inspiring people and giving them the opportunity to comment is more productive than attempting to galvanise teams to generate ideas.
- The danger of letting employees vote on ideas. Idea assessment really should be carried out by senior management using carefully evolved criteria: clarity of concept… customer need… strategic fit… business outcome… match with company values etc.
- The risks inherent in using an internally-generated ‘customer persona’ rather than seeking input from actual customers.
- The valuable discipline of getting employees to describe their idea in Tweets… these can then be used to generate, via social media, consumer engagement with the idea and so capture valuable customer feedback.
- The need to strike the right balance: short-term, rapid innovation vs. longer term, more strategic innovation. A good example was given of an employee (in another organisation) suggesting that money could be saved by reducing the amount of blank space left between printed receipts at check-out. The space savings made on till receipts then paid for a more strategic project to eliminate paper receipts altogether.
- And finally, never overlook the importance of providing direct feedback to every employee who generates an idea. To combat the negative reaction: “it’s not worth submitting ideas because they are never taken seriously”, it is important to communicate at every stage and to celebrate the success stories. Nothing succeeds like success!