Customer Experience Innovation Blog with Toni Newman

Beyond the Obvious

Vet Sign

Would you do something for me? Well, two things actually.

First, pull out the master list of Touchpoint Opportunities that you created for your business or organization. (Notice how I’m presuming that you have one.)

Now, tally up how many of those Touchpoint Opportunities are so painfully predictable and so obliviously obvious that anyone would have thought of them. (Anyone in this case meaning your competition.)

Business cards? Websites? Phone messages and marketing materials? I’m sure most of us would agree that these are examples of Touchpoint Opportunities that are hiding in plain site.

Now don’t get me wrong. Every Touchpoint is an opportunity to create an innovative Five ‘S’ customer experience – or Unexpected Encounter(TM) – that will influence how your customers think, feel and act when it comes to your brand. And creating innovative customer experiences at any of those Touchpoint Opportunities is definitely a good step in a great direction.

A business card for a bicycle repair shop that doubles as a bike repair tool. The packaging for Nike Airs that is … well… air. The billboard for a veterinary hospital that says “Neutering your pet makes them less nuts!” All of these are examples of innovative Five ‘S’ experiences created with perfectly predictable Touchpoint Opportunities.

But what if the Touchpoint Opportunity itself was unbelievably unexpected? What if before we even get to the point of creating our experience, we chose a Touchpoint vehicle that is surpassingly surprising and outrageously out of the blue? What amazing and innovative possibilities could be waiting for us if we obliged ourselves to go Beyond the Obvious?

Innovation Insight …Beyond the Obvious

Today I’d like to share five examples of Touchpoint Opportunities that go beyond the obvious. At first glance, they may seem utterly ridiculous but I challenge you and your team to actually imagine how you could use any or all of these beyond the obvious Touchpoint Opportunities in your business or organization. Chances are that you will come up with some great innovative ideas as a result of your efforts. However, even if you don’t, just taking the time to do the creative exercise will be valuable in itself.
1. Hit the Floor
I’m going to hazard a guess that the floor (or the ground) is not on your list of Top 10 Touchpoint Opportunities. (Notice how, once again, I’m assuming that you have one?) But consider this.

  • Smart Car placed an ad on a grocery store floor that read “You only need this much space to park a Smart Car.”;
  • A tattoo parlor turned fake $100 bills into a business card and scattered them all over the floors of a mall;
  • When Canadian Sait Polytechnic needed to hire fundraisers, they dropped $20 bills on the floor of a conference centre during a fundraising workshop. The note on the back of each bill said “Apparently you have a knack for finding money. Interested in a career in fundraising? Let’s chat!”
  • And finally, Mr Clean took a take on the floor and whitened just one stripe of a crosswalk to demonstrate how clean their product could get just about anything.

So look down. Look way down. How could you use the floor or the ground to create a Five ‘S’ Unexpected Encounter(TM) for your customers?

2. Go to the Loo!
From toilet paper to stall dividers; from paper-towel dispensers to the actual toilet itself, bathrooms are literally overflowing with Touchpoint Opportunities.

For example,

  • Want to give your customers something to do while they’re in the loo? Branded crossword puzzle toilet paper may be just what you’re looking for. Want to find a way to get more traction from your tweets? For $35 you can put your tweets on your toilet paper and give a whole new meaning to the word “re-tweet”.
  • In an outrageously courageous move, Canac Hardware stores put wood fencing between urinals in a men’s bathroom with a sign that read “For more privacy from your neighbours.” Talk about getting your target market’s attention.
  • World Wildlife Foundation designed unique paper-towel dispensers with a see-through replica of a green continent on the front. Each time a paper-towel was pulled out, a little bit more of the green disappeared, reminding us in real time of the impact of our actions on the planet.
  • And proving once again that we never really grow tired of bathroom humour, the extra roll of toilet paper in the washrooms of the W Hotels has a label with the simple phrase:The Back up Plan.

How you could you Go to the Loo for your customers? What Unexpected Encounters(TM) could you create in the one place where people might least expect it?

3. Take the Stairs
Up and down we go and never do we give a second thought to the incredible potential of stairs as a Touchpoint Opportunity that goes beyond the obvious.

However, some innovative organizations have stepped up to the challenge.

  • A charity book drive in Greenville, SC turned a flight of stairs into a bookcase as part of a book and fundraising drive. In the first year, over 100,000 books were donated and over $120,000 was generated in revenue.
  • To show customers how being organized can save space, one Ikea store turned its main staircase into a chest of drawers, with everything neatly organized inside.
  • Coca-Cola created an Outrageously Courageous Unexpected Encounter(TM) when they turned a staircase into an oversized case of Coke – and then, for those who chose the easier way up, they turned the escalator beside the stairs into an oversized case of Coke Light. (Exercise seems to have its advantages.)
  • And, of course, there is the now famous Piano Stairs experience by Volkswagon where a stairway in a subway station was transformed into a working piano – an Unexpected Encounter(TM) that resulted in 66% more people taking the stairs.

Do any of these examples take your creativity to new heights? After all, in the words of the great Martin Luther King, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
4. See Things Differently
There are many beyond the obvious Touchpoint Opportunities lurking in plain sight. The trick is to stop seeing them for what they are and to start seeing them for what they could be.

  • Bangkok is famous for its masses of tangled telephone lines but when Leo Burnett Thailand looked up, they saw a mass of tangled hair. The perfect place to put an oversized comb emblazoned with the words “Tangles? Switch to Rejoice Conditioners.”
  • Washing machines in the local laundromat may just look like washing machines to you and me but Pepto Bismol saw an opportunity to turn the see through door to the machines into a perfect picture of an upset stomach.
  • Someone looked at a giant loop in one of Iceland’s highways and saw the opportunity to transform the loop into the largest pink ribbon in the world for Iceland’s Cancer Awareness Month.
  • And, although a pile of recycling may not seem like a Touchpoint Opportunity, Mini Cooper proved us all wrong by seeing an opportunity to scatter giant Mini Cooper boxes throughout Amsterdam – complete with pieces of holiday wrapping paper hanging haphazardly off the boxes – so that passers by would think that someone got a car under the tree for Christmas.

What beyond the obvious Touchpoint Opportunities are in your surroundings just waiting for you to See Things Differently?

So there you have it. Four categories and 16 different examples of Touchpoint Opportunities that go beyond the obvious.

Isn’t it time for you to start Imagining the Possibilities!

PS. I would love to hear about any outrageously courageous ideas that this edition of Innovation Insights has inspired for you and your team.

Until next time, Dare 2b Different!

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