When thinking about innovation, the first thing that comes to our mind is some grand, breakthrough idea, such as flying cars, VR, AI. In reality, statistics show that around 70 % of innovation is incremental innovation. Mostly because they are simple to execute and involve low level of risk.Last summer, we organized an internal Challenge for collecting ideas for a small website improvement. We defined the budget, timeline and reward. Using our platform we collected 57 ideas from 22 employees over a period of three months. We collected all sort of ideas, collaborated on them and the best idea that won this challenge was to implement a live chat on our website as an addition to our sales process and an additional customer support point of contact. We all supported this idea with our likes, agreed that it can be very useful for improving the sales process, and after the evaluation step, the idea was approved and ready for implementation.
Our idea maybe doesn’t sound like a big deal but, for us, it was a whole new approach to our customers. New method in sales and new software to be used in our business process. We implemented it easily, integrated with our CRM and engaged our team to learn how to use it.
Although this is by definition a small-scale improvement to our existing services, the path from the idea to its realization taught us 4 valuable lessons:
1. THE VALUE OF RESEARCH
After we selected our idea for innovation, we had to research market for the best solution for our needs. As we needed a software, we compiled a list of features that we needed and searched for different solutions that can be tested before purchase. We had a team which shortlisted three different solutions and tested their functionalities to see if they suit our needs. Unfortunately, our management was not satisfied with a proposed solution as they were way out of our budget, so we had to keep looking for the right one. Finally, we found a solution that was perfect for our needs, covering all necessary functionalities while staying within the budget.
Lessons learned: Plan your time for the research concerning your innovation carefully and plan it well, since many obstacles and failures may occur in this phase.
2. THE JOY OF LEARNING
For the purpose of introducing this incremental innovation, we designed a series of educational workshops to help our employees easily learn software behind the chat as well as the live chat as a sales technique. We organized 5 workshops and prepared educational materials. The funny part was that we all felt so nervous while doing the role plays with potential scenarios of real situations, even though everything was just a training. We all enjoyed those workshops, we laughed a lot, we managed to overcome our fears of failures and we were acquired skills needed to welcome our real customers.
Lessons learned: Create a learning atmosphere to be practical and goal-oriented, respecting principles of adult learning, and make it motivating, fun and engaging for everyone.
3. IMPORTANCE OF LEADERSHIP
Team that was in charge of implementation of this idea was a small team of 12 people. We assigned the roles and tasks to the team members. As always, tasks were not completed on time as this was happening during the season of summer holidays. As a result, the deadline had to be extended for two weeks and even the extended time frame seemed short for the tasks waiting to be completed. Thanks to prioritizing and reassigning the tasks, our project leader managed to prepare everything for the update.
Lessons learned: A successful leader knows how to successfully manage available resources to get the best outcomes from the team, project and company.
4. USEFULNESS OF FREE TRIAL
As a SaaS vendor, we are well-aware of the importance of a free trial of a product you want to purchase. That is why, in research phase, we have defined that we want to evaluate only solutions that offer a free trial, as we wanted to try how chat actually works. With so many vendors selling the same type of services with some functionalities differentiation, we had to test a few in order to find the one that will perfectly suit our needs and our requirements.
Lessons learned: The main advantage of a free trial is that it enables us to personally experience the product and make an educated purchase decision.
Majority of implemented business innovations are incremental in their nature and purpose. As you can see from our case, innovation doesn’t have to be a game changer in order to have an outstanding positive impact on the business processes and performance. In modern, ever-changing, business world, small and incremental improvements are the best and safest way for organizations to stay on par with the competition and demanding customers. As you can see, a properly set innovation management processes with appropriate innovation management software results in cost-effective, fast and fun ideation to implementation process focused on your core business values.