One major problem with innovation in services is experimenting and testing the innovation. These activities can not be performed in laboratories in a manner disjoint from customers. It is necessary for customers to be involved in the experiment itself. To overcome this problem, it selected 25 of its branches in Atlanta as experiment centers. The reasons for selecting these branches were as follows:
These were hi-tech branches equipped with latest technology
Atlanta was a "stable" market
The second point was important because the customers could consider an experiment synonymous with a mistake. Further because of the requirement of direct customer presence in the experimentation process, normal activities could not be hindered in any way. So these branches continued to perform the routine daily activities in the usual manner, while at the same time trying out ideas for better customer satisfaction. Having established the "market" for experimentation, the I&D team created a process for generating, collecting and queuing up ideas.
Financial investment required was the next problem area. The senior leadership argued that the groups funding should be tied to the performance of the 25 I&D banking centers.
Those in favor of independent budget and a separate R& D department felt that this would burden the team with the day-to-day activities along their task of experimenting. A separate R&D center, many felt, would yield hypothetical and impractical results.
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