Customer Collaboration and Innovation Strategy: Bringing Users into the Fold
The complexities of selling, coupled with intense competition, have pushed businesses to turn to innovation strategy with the belief that innovating and creating with customers will help sustain business in the long-run.
Many businesses do a great job of connecting with consumers on a basic level through platforms like social media and blogging. Contests, comments, and teaser campaigns are an excellent way to interface with customers, but they can be inhibiting, because customer engagement through these mediums is based on shares, likes, and product or support ratings. But, by taking the user relationship a step further and involving them in your internal innovation processes, you can ideate and even co-create with them to come up with products and services that better meet their needs.
Benefits of Customer Collaboration
Touting customer participation for innovation can help businesses in more ways than one. For example:
- Quality. The innovation program gets a quality boost. Involving users unlocks diverse and detailed perspectives from different voices. This will bring ideas forward, help identify unknown problems, expose loopholes, and drive action.
- Enthusiasm. By involving customers, businesses gain the strength of the crowd and their enthusiasm, which can boost morale and improve execution.
- Partnerships. Customer collaboration can also open the door to strategic partnerships that may not have come to the surface otherwise. Lego is famous for tapping their fanbase to innovate. In 2004, while working on new version of a programmable robotics kit, participants advised Lego management to use more sensors in the design. One of the participants on the development team was in the business of manufacturing high-tech sensors, and a strategic partnership was born.
Bringing Customers On Board
There are 3 things that can kill innovation strategy and deter customers from coming on board:
- Ambiguity. The crowd needs to know what they are going to be doing, and management needs to define what they’re working towards.
- Accessibility. Everyone should be able to access the innovation engine easily and securely.
- Veiled decision-making processes. Transparency is key in any crowd-based innovation program. Participants need to know that all ideas are considered equal, and that credit is given where it’s due.
When you create an environment where these roadblocks don’t exist, you will have more customers willing to participate. With SpigtEngage, consumers and employees can engage efficiently on an easy to access platform that enhances engagement, and improves user experience to maximize productivity. The activity stream gives users the option to view all innovation activity, or filter and view specific ideas. Plus, the vote and comment features allow users to take instant action, putting ambiguity aside. Our tools help invent disruptive new products and build new revenue streams while keeping employees engaged and building customer loyalty. According to Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, innovation is about getting out of the employees’ way (or the customer’s way) and empowering them to do more themselves. SpigitEngage is a platform that does just that: it empowers customers and volunteers to think and collaborate freely.