Customer Co-Creation is the Secret to Business Innovation

Today, we have the ability to connect with others in a variety of ways, be it for business or for leisure, and we have been taking full advantage. Though many of us have been home or working under some restrictions for several months, we have remained connected with friends, family, co-workers, and clients. Keeping business in mind, who are the most important to connect with?

You may be thinking of your recent experiences working from home – connecting with co-workers and clients via WebEx or Microsoft Teams. However, those aren’t the only important connections your business should be making. A very important piece could be missing from your company: customer co-creation.

Thinking again of the technology we have in place today, and the ability to reach people in a variety of ways, it seems almost silly to not engage with your customers. They are, after all, the most important aspect of business success. You want customers to be happy and accept your product or service. How are you to know if your product meets customers’ needs and preferences? How do you ensure your customers will welcome your offerings? There are two options: you channel some worldly power and attempt to predict the future, or you simply talk to your customers!

Customer co-creation is a very powerful tool to help your business succeed. Asking customers what they want, what their preferences are, and their willingness to purchase your product/service will help you and your company understand customer reactions before anything hits the shelves. Your fear of failure and questions of success will be eased by customer feedback. In fact, research shows “61 percent [of companies surveyed] say that co-creation has enabled them to produce more successful new products and services.”

Put more succinctly, co-creation has helped companies to create new and innovative products that can truly be game changers.

There are a range of ways to connect with customers in safe efficient way, including online focus groups, quantitative surveys, or even on-going customer communities. Utilizing the resources available to co-create and engage with customers is a winning set up for your company.

Mohanbir S. Sawhney, the McCormick Foundation Chair of Technology and a Clinical Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University says, “a key part of engagement marketing is giving customers an opportunity for a dialogue—not only with your brand, but with each other.”

Sawhney often attends conferences around the world, speaking to companies about the best way to authentically engage with their customers. Opening the door to customer co-creation provides a way to engage, while also providing customers with an opportunity to talk to each other. Their discussions with one another can help them view potential products and services in a whole new light. Closed focus groups and one-off quantitative surveys – both linear in nature – may not hold these benefits, but exploring the online community platforms available will be an advantage for your company and your customers, as you can have ongoing dialogs that lead to co-creation, inspiration and innovation.

Now, that you’re thinking from the viewpoint of the customer, let’s continue to discuss how co-creation benefits them. We know that customers benefit from discussing a company’s products and services with

each other. We also know from experience that customers are more than willing to share their feedback on the products for which they are in the market. In the setting of focus groups or online communities, consumers typically receive financial incentives in the form of checks, rebates, or gift cards. Though this is one way to encourage customer participation in co-creating products and ideas, the social recognition gained from helping a company of interest also goes a long way. Customers feel a sense of pride knowing they are of service and enjoy seeing the results of their insights and feedback.

At KLC, we’ve conducted research across each of our online communities and determined that in addition to financial incentives, customers are motivated by learning how their feedback has been implemented by a brand they use and care about, especially when they were able to co-create with the brand at the beginning of the development cycle. Businesses are not alone in reaping the benefits of co-creation; their customers do too. Doesn’t that sound like a win-win situation?

I know I’m not the first to say that time is flying, so what are you waiting for? Help your business, connect with your customers, and find the success you will gain from customer co-creation