Service Innovation: 4 Easy Tools to Make Sure Your Services Wow

November 11, 2019 / Comments (0)

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by Innovation Lab Director, Adam Jespersen

In our last post, we introduced the trinity of innovation – the concepts of desirability, feasibility, and viability.

Today, we are going to focus in on that first concept, that of “desirability.” It sounds so easy, right, that we should design services, products, and offerings that people, donors, and communities actually desire and want? After all, isn’t that why we are all here as nonprofits – to fill a community need that isn’t filled by either public services or the business community? Isn’t it implicit that our constituents and communities will desire to receive the good work for which we’ve been created?

The simple answer to those questions, in my best consultant-ease, is “well, it depends.”  Maximizing the desirability of your organization’s mission and services is something to be worked at and isn’t guaranteed simply by having a heartfelt mission and a deep passion for the cause.

Consider the organization that has been around for decades, has a noble mission, but hasn’t been adaptive in how it shifts that mission to meet the current needs of its clients or community. In the business world, Kodak was the gold-standard in photographic film right up to its bankruptcy in 2012.

Or consider the organization that may be meeting the most current needs of its clients or community but is just doing so in purely a mechanical sense, without care to the experience its clients have in interacting with its products or services.

I recently had a conversation with someone about one of Montana’s exquisite food banks. We both remarked at how this food bank’s offerings, from its store to its cooking classes, seemed to be carefully curated to build up people’s dignity and capacity to improve their own health.  She then compared that experience to another food bank experience she had elsewhere (out of state) that felt disorganized, dishonoring, and overly burdensome.

Both food banks delivered on their core missions of feeding the hungry. One, however, stopped at that step, while the other spent the extra time and effort to truly understand this concept of desirability, which took it far beyond its core mission of simply feeding the hungry.

It takes both art and skill to hone our missions on what is most needed and desired from our clients and community. Thankfully, there are myriad tools out there to help us gather insights and design our services. Here are four such tools that you can put to use with your teams:

  • Empathy Interview: A great place to start in identifying what is desirable to your clients is to interview your clients. But you need to do so in a way that allows you to connect with the reality and felt experience of your clients. Their perception should be your reality and should be incorporated into your service design.
  • Value Proposition Canvas: If you hang around me for any significant length of time, you will probably hear me shamelessly plug this tool. The Value Proposition Canvas is a visual, collaborative, and iterative tool that allows you and your teams to crystallize what pains your clients are experiencing, what gains they are needing you to deliver, and how your services and offerings fit those pains and gains and provide value.
  • Client Journey Mapping: Visually map out your clients’ experiences with your service – step by step. While mapping, chart out the needs and emotional state of your clients at that step. hen select one to three “moments” within that journey to make unique or special.
  • Analogous Inspiration: Get outside your context see who else is doing something fun and creative that could be adapted to your work. Want to learn some better customer service tactics? Take a visit to a local shop that consistently exceeds expectation with their customer service. Want to make your environment more welcoming or exciting? Visit a local museum, art gallery, or park for inspiration. Want to increase your organization’s process efficiency? Visit a local manufacturing operation or another industry where shaving seconds off of repetitive processes equates to massive savings.

You all work way too hard to not have your efforts being poured into something that dramatically impacts your clients and communities for the better. Regardless of the tools used, find ways to connect to the felt experience of your clients and community and allow yourself and your teams to think creatively about how you can increase the desirability of what you have to offer.

Next up, Feasibility…

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