Jump to content
No doubt you’ve been in meetings where a customer has said something like, “This would be an unbeatable product if only it _______.” I’ll let you fill in the blank.
Unless it’s a top-tier customer with lots of money at stake, the chance of one of these suggestions turning into a product feature is very, very small. Yet, companies receive ideas from customers all the time. And many of them are quite good.
Why? Because customers know what they need from the products they buy.
But even if individual ideas are not feature worthy, combining and analyzing them may reveal trends or needs you hadn’t considered before. And those revelations could lead to some competitive products and capabilities. Ingredient number 3 in this series on turning innovation into a core business process is simple: Embrace the voice of your customer.
That voice can come to you from many sources. And it can come through many channels.
The possible sources will depend on your particular industry, sales model and organization. Consider:
The channels you can tap into can include surveys, interviews, email, sales meetings, customer service forums, social media communities, crowdsourcing, conference calls and research organizations.
Create a structure that employs as many of these channels as necessary to gather stories, requests, requirements, and even complaints, as input into the ideation phase of your innovation process. The process plan should identify every potential source of ideas along with who is responsible for each source. Ensure that your innovation management software can capture and centralize all ideas; make it easy to evaluate, combine and prioritize them; and establish an audit trail for each idea from ideation to planning to development.
So, encourage your customers to voice their opinion. Then consider every suggestion as an opportunity to strengthen customer loyalty and increase competitive advantage.