New ways to engage customers in co-designing your company's future - a weblog to complement the book, Outside Innovation, by Patty Seybold
What is Outside Innovation?
It’s when customers lead the design of your business processes, products, services, and business models. It’s when customers roll up their sleeves to co-design their products and your business. It’s when customers attract other customers to build a vital customer-centric ecosystem around your products and services.
The good news is that customer-led innovation is one of the most predictably successful innovation processes.
The bad news is that many managers and executives don’t yet believe in it. Today, that’s their loss. Ultimately, it may be their downfall.
Eric von Hippel coined the term "lead users" to describe a group of both customers and non-customers who are passionate about getting certain things accomplished. They may not know or care about the products or services you offer. But they do care about their project or need. Lead users have already explored innovative ways to get things done. They're usually willing to share their approaches with others.
I use the term "lead customers" to describe the small percentage of your current customers who are truly innovative. These may not be your most vocal customers, your most profitable customers, or your largest customers. But they are the customers who care deeply about the way in which your products or services could help them achieve something they care about.
LEAD CUSTOMERS AND LEAD USERS
We’ve spent the last 25 years identifying, interviewing, selecting, and grouping customers together to participate in our Customer Scenario® Mapping sessions. Over the years, we’ve learned how to identify the people who will contribute the most to a customer co-design session. These are the same kinds of people you should be recruiting when you set out to harness customer-led innovation.
HOW DO YOU WIN IN INNOVATION?
You no longer win by having the smartest engineers and scientists; you win by having the smartest customers!
In more than 25 years of business strategy consulting, we’ve found that customer co-design is a woefully under-used capability.
consumer spending is down dramatically, and the coming holiday season
is looking really bleak, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in
optimizing the e-merchandising on your e-storefront. In fact, the
opposite is true. While peoples’ wallets may be less full, you still
want your share of that smaller wallet. How do you do that? Make it
really easy for people to find what they’re seeking AND make it really
easy for them to make a purchasing decision. We spend a lot of time
educating you about findability. But we’ve devoted less space to
merchandising. This week, we’re revisiting the topic of e-merchandising
by reminding you of the basics. My prediction is that online shopping
as a percentage of total shopping will double this year. Why? Because
people who aren’t in the mood to shop are more likely to hit their
computers than the malls. So, take a look at our list of our Ten Fundamental E-Merchandising Practices
and think about how many of these tried and true e-merchandising
techniques you’re currently using on your own consumer or business Web
sites. Which of them are paying off for you? Which of them are most
important to you as an online shopper? Which important e-merchandising
tips have we missed?