One of the things that we find hardest to get across to clients is the amount of attention they need to pay when planning for a customer co-design event, such as one of our half-day or full-day Customer Scenario® Mapping sessions. No matter what techniques or methods you plan to use when you engage with your customers, you owe it to them to be respectful of the gift of their time and insights and creativity they’re offering.
What Most Companies Now Do Well in Planning for Customer Co-Design:
What we find is that most “enlightened” companies now do a few things right:
1. They have high-level buy-in to run one or more customer co-design activities.
2. They have a full-time, experienced and respected person in charge of the activity (this is usually someone in a manager or director role, whose day job centers around gathering customer requirements and input).
3. They connect the customer co-design/requirements gathering to real, funded projects/initiatives so there is an execution engine in place.
Where Most Companies Fail in Planning for Customer Co-Design:
1. They don’t get their high-level executives engaged early enough. The sponsor’s peers and bosses aren’t sufficiently “in the loop” to benefit from the many insights gleaned from customers before they actually come to the session. (If you’re listening/watching/reading the pre-session interviews, you are able to gain early insights and get a jumpstart on addressing opportunities.)
2. They don’t involve ancillary stakeholders and subject matter experts until it’s really too late. As you talk with customers before the design event, you’re going to encounter issues/opportunities that are beyond the scope of the currently funded projects you’re working on. So you need to find the people in your organization who ARE working on those things and engage them early.
3. They don’t get senior-enough executives to spend this quality, contextful time working side-by-side with customers. It never ceases to amaze me when CEOs, COOs, EVPs—all the people with real clout in an organization—find better things to do than to devote a day with a couple dozen really insightful customers co-designing new products, services, and experiences. Yet these same high-level execs will scrape off time (and considerable budget) for internally-focused, belly button-gazing company off-sites and strategic planning meetings. I just don’t get it!
We run these co-design sessions all the time, many times a year, in many different industries. Now, many of our clients are equipped to run their own sessions through the training and certification program we offer in our particular customer co-design methodology, Customer Scenario® Mapping. Here’s a guide to planning a Customer Scenario Mapping session that we’ve prepared for our clients. It should come in handy for anyone who is planning to embark on similar endeavor.
How to Plan for a Customer Scenario® Mapping Session
The New CSM Guidebook: Part 1: The Eight Pre-Session Planning Activities
By Ronni T. Marshak, Executive VP and Senior Consultant, March 29, 2012