One of the things we spend a lot of our time doing with our clients is delivering workshops with their key stakeholders. These workshops take many forms, but our most effective (and popular) are the customer journey mapping workshop and the customer experience maturity assessment workshop. These workshops are great: a killer combination of research-based structured framework and the brain trust of key client stakeholders who really know their business.
But it occurred to me after the last workshop I helped to deliver that something else was happening . . . something that wasn’t on the agenda, wasn’t in the statement of work, and wasn’t really planned. And this thing happened in pretty much every workshop I’ve been fortunate enough to experience.
The thing that happened was that people talked. I mean really talked. These workshops are structured so that people are not just sitting around a conference room table. They’re standing up and moving around the room, writing on little bits of paper on the walls, windows, and even the floor. And it’s at this point that something really cool happens. The discussions get focused. In one recent case, Manulife arranged a series of Client Experience Labs, and it invited all the most senior people from across all of Asia Pacific. Because this was not a Forrester-run event (we were just helping out by delivering content on our maturity assessment and customer experience ecosystem frameworks), I had a chance to observe the participants as they were working through the journeys their clients had to go through. What I noticed was this: at one point, 11 senior executives standing around a journey map on the wall talking about their clients. Nothing else mattered in that moment. How often does that happen in our busy work lives?
The other thing that wasn’t on the agenda, but incredibly valuable, was that the participants in these kinds of workshops often have never met before or may not even have heard of each other before. I always find this an amazing experience: to watch client colleagues collaborate throughout a workshop, experience their customers’ problems firsthand in an immersive setting, and — critically — make agreements on the spot about how they could make improvements and transformations once they get back to their day jobs.
So, while getting the right people in a room together for a whole day (or even two) is often extremely difficult, the value that comes from it goes far beyond just learning about a new methodology or what your competitors are up to. The real value comes from an uninterrupted focus on the customer and the agreements that come from a shared experience of committed stakeholders.