Idea management, Product development

Customers as key partners in your innovation process By Deana - 4 min read

Customers as key partners in your innovation process

Over the years we’ve witnessed some pretty genius innovations fail. Some ideas might have been a bit ahead of their time while some just didn’t fit in with the consumers’ perception. In a time where consumers are becoming ever-more demanding, it is undoubtedly important to pay more attention to them and include them in your innovation process when possible. A user-centric approach to innovations might just be the right thing for your business.

Shift of powers

Consumers are gaining more power. They are the ones who control the shopping experience and choose where, what and how to buy. So now, besides facing fierce competition, you have to focus your attention on the consumers more than ever and get to know them.  You’ll need to dig deeper and find out what are their motivators, what drives them to buy things? A simple Q&A with your consumers sometimes falls short when it comes to understanding them. You need to get into the consumers’ heads and walk in their shoes. This way your innovations will have a higher success rate and have a higher chance of being accepted by the consumers. There are some crucial actions you should undertake if you opt for customer-driven innovations.

Get to know your consumers

A consumer-driven innovation should be revolving around your current and potential consumers. Nowadays, it is not enough to ID your customers and know their personality. For a successful customer-driven innovation you will have to dive deeper. Sometimes it is pretty easy to spot the problems they face, their preferences, and overall motives. You can always use traditional methods such as focusing groups and performing a bunch of interviews, in which cases the consumers will tell you the exact issues they have. Unfortunately, it is more often the case that even they aren’t aware of the exact needs or just can’t find the right words to express themselves. That’s why you need to dive deeper into consumer psychology that will lead you to those extra answers and direct you to the right innovation process.

Early testing will give you more information about the aspects of the products or services your customers value the most, and sometimes you will be surprised by the outcome. Step by step through the innovation process you will end up with a product or service that people are not only willing to buy, but pay extra just because it fits in their perception perfectly. Now that’s a win-win situation.

Engage your customers in your innovation process

Customers are the ultimate consumers of your products and services. They know first-hand the aspects requiring possible improvement, or they might just come up with brilliant new ideas for the next level of innovations. Customers as the key innovation partners,  their ideas and feedback, will enrich your ideation process and you will gain insight into what they find most important. Crowdsourcing as a VoC tool (Voice of the Customer) is a great way to connect with your community. You can either call the crowd to address a specific issue or just leave it open for their feedback and ideas. Anyone can join in, not just your existing customers, but your potential ones as well. Crowdsourcing usage will not just improve your innovation/ideation process, but also attract some new customers.

People like to express themselves and to be heard. What crowdsourcing allows you is not only to connect with the community and gather more great ideas but also to create a tighter bond with your consumers. They will feel more appreciated knowing that you listen to them, care about their opinion, and act upon their feedback.

Turn to technology for the extra nudge

We live in a technological era so it is logical to utilize technology to implement our innovation processes with greater success. Machine learning, Big Data, and Cloud technology are just a few examples of innovative solutions you can turn to. These will provide more detailed insights, and you will be able to bridge those gaps in the market and overcome many limitations your business might be facing along the way.It takes more than just identifying and getting to know your customers for long-lasting success. These innovative technologies play a vital role in your innovation process because they overcome many limitations your business might be facing along the way. And once you focus on consumers, you will be able to recognize patterns in your customers’ behavior and tendencies, and, based on that, manage your further innovation process with less uncertainty.

In case you are already using a user-centric approach to innovations, now is the right moment to bring it to the next level. Innovation Cloud, with its different approaches and a Crowdsourcing tool, might be the perfect solution for your business to boost its innovation potential and connect with customers on a deeper level.

Deana - Content creator
Content creator

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