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Customer Experience and Design

Getting to What Matters Most with Now/New/Next

The last best experience.

It may seem unfair or counterintuitive to compare your organization’s customer experience to others outside your industry, but your customers are doing it every time they interact with you. They are holding you accountable to your promises but they are also passing judgment against the expectations set from experiences they have elsewhere in their lives. 

Let’s say you just made a dinner reservation online. You had a few times in mind for Saturday, discovered a few new restaurants in town, and in two clicks you landed a great dinner date with friends this weekend. The next day you try to schedule an appointment with your doctor, so you log into the patient portal only to find that you need to make a phone call to set up the appointment. You make the call, but have to leave a voicemail and, of course, wait for a call back.  A few years ago, you would have accepted this as business as usual, but in a digital era where choice and transparency are everything, business as usual is not enough to compete. 

IBM’s Bridget van Kralingen said it best: “The last best experience that anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere.” 

The pressure is on. The customer experience leader in you is ready to fix what is broken, finish those ongoing projects that don’t seem to end, and dive into whatever is next to win new business and keep the customers you have!  

Innovation is great, but…

There is no shortage of good ideas, so the trick is in figuring out which ones are the really great ideas and which few of those you have the time, money, and attention to act on. We often think of great ideas as innovations, and we often think of those innovations as fresh, never-before-seen ideas. But innovation guru Clayton Christensen explains that innovations actually exist on a spectrum that ranges from sustaining innovations (maintaining what already works to improve quality and decrease cost) to disruptive innovations (adding new features to a product or service in an attempt to grow).

So here lies tension: You have to take risks and make investments in new things to change the way you do business, and at the same time, you have to keep doing what you’re already doing well and include new things that have now become table stakes expectations. In my scheduling example above, you need to decide if the self-service experience is really table stakes, and if it is, is the two-click online version the right way to go. Maybe you just need another person to pick up the phone when the lines are busy. 

Understanding what customers expect and need, and then carefully deciding which of those to focus your attention on is the heart of the strategist’s dilemma. This is the kind of problem we love to understand and solve, so we took van Kralingen’s comments and Christensen’s notions of innovation (and a few other tried and true methods) to develop our Now/New/Next model.


Now/New/Next (N3) is a tool for rapidly benchmarking and prioritizing a company’s customer experience portfolio. Built on innovation models from Christensen, Kano, and Baghai, N3 helps our clients:

  1. Understand where their customer experience stands relative to customer expectations and competitive forces,
  2. Get inspired to ideate cross-industry experiences and adaptations,
  3. Prioritize which experiences and capabilities to focus on next, and
  4. Balance the experience portfolio to make the most of limited time and resources.

Best of all, we’re able to do this quickly because it’s backed by ongoing customer and category research. We just need to figure out where you stand and validate the portfolio with minimal customer research. 

I’ll be sharing more about this approach with Now/New/Next in a few upcoming posts. 

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Jim Hertzfeld, Principal and Chief Strategist

Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.

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