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Topic(s): Customer Centricity CX & Business Strategy CX & Bedrijfsstrategie

Why customer experts are the key to successful product innovation

More than ever, customer experience forms the foundation of success for businesses. Yet companies tend to overlook it when it comes to product and service development. Organizations spend lots of money on R&D and innovation, but even then, success isn’t guaranteed. So how can extreme customer centricity in relation to products and services help your organization? 


Put product innovation at the forefront of customers and their expectations 

Companies often get the beginning of innovation wrong. The big issue is that organizations look at innovation from within the company. This needs to be turned around by approaching innovation from an outside-in perspective. To achieve this companies can do a combination of things; 

1. Get a deep understanding of customer expectations, habits, and behavior 

Companies have to find out how consumers go about using their products or service by observing their behavior. This can be based on market research, social media info, or other data.  

2. Include your product experts in the innovation process 

It’s extremely important to involve your customer experts in the innovation process as they are the ones that will convince the mainstream market. Experts often know what works and what doesn’t. They use the product daily so they have the best ideas and thoughts on how to improve it. They are very useful to detect frictions and if companies walk them through the process, they will provide such an impact which will ultimately make the product more convenient for the average user. 

While it's good to have early adopters of your product, you're missing out on growth if you never cross the chasm to the mainstream market. Your customer experts are the ones that can help you scale your product and innovate in the right way to reach the mainstream market. 



3. Make sure the launch of the product isn’t the end of the cycle 

Perceive the product launch as the beginning rather than the end of the cycle. After launch, companies should capture feedback to know whether they made the right choices. Be critical and detect which things need urgent attention in the first 3-4 weeks to make the launch as successful as it can be.  


How do customer-centric organizations distinguish themselves? 

There are several behaviors that extremely customer-centric organizations have adopted that set them apart from the competition.

1. How a company deals with opposing interests

Imagine that a bank has a customer which hasn’t used his bank account for years, but still pays for it. The customer pays the bank for a service which he doesn’t use, and the bank earns money. But is this route organizations want to take? The bank can either say nothing and just keep earning money. Or, it can put the customer in the center and reach out: "Hey, we see that you're still paying for our service, but since you haven't used it, we'll refund the money. 

2. How a company deals with complaints where it’s uncertain who made the mistake 

When a customer isn’t satisfied with the service he experienced and tells the organization, one of two things happen: 

    1. The organization starts an in-depth investigation to figure out who made the mistake. 

    2. The organization fixes the problem and afterward it figures out what went wrong. 

The second option is how customer-centric organizations distinguish themselves. Initially, it doesn't matter who or what caused the mistake. What matters is that you restore the confidence of the client, and you make them happy again. Afterward, you of course need to find out what happened, so the issue doesn't reoccur. But if you wait too long to remediate, your customer won't come back.  

3. The amount of empowerment the frontline staff gets from the management 

If something goes wrong within the organization, how far can an employee go to get it right again? The worst answer a customer can get when they raise a complaint with an employee? "Let me call my manager." At that point your customer doesn't want to talk to a manager, they want to be helped. Customers love it when employees have the freedom to just help them out. 


Use empathy to boost your organization 

Empathy might be the biggest asset companies have to boost within their organization. It's the one domain that computers aren't good at. Only people are able to understand the person behind the customer. People know how to bring value to the life of customers. That's exactly how empathy is beneficial for product or service design departments. 


To wrap up 

The input customers have on product and service innovation can’t be ignored. First of all, they can help you determine what innovations you should bring to the market based on their needs. Secondly, your customer experts can help you tailor your product to meet the needs of average consumers. And after that, feedback of all customers help you optimize your innovation for everyone.  


Want to know how Hello Customer can help you capture product feedback? Get in touch!