It is not unknown to any business owner – how important it is to tap into the customers.
The business world is changing. Thanks to the constantly evolving data sciences and technologies.
And, so are changing the ways customers interact with a business.
Web browsers and applications, social networks, and mobile phones – there are so many sources today.
As a result, the marketing and customer services are also scaling.
But, the real question is, do these changes affect the new product innovations?
After interviewing marketing and innovation experts, a recent study revealed that listening to the customers is key to product development.
There is a standard model of exploration that innovators use – M&3Cs.
The model is primarily developed to explore Market, Customer, Competition, and Capabilities.
Let’s understand these in brief:
Innovators look for (or, in some cases, create) the need in the market for any product. And accordingly, develop newer and better versions of the same.
The customer is by far the primary source of intelligence for new product development. Tapping into the critical pain points of the customers is essential for developing a relevant product.
Before developing any new product, innovators also consider the competition in the market, both – existing and upcoming. It is needed to decide upon the pricing strategy.
Lastly, the company’s capability to develop the product on massive scales is also explored. Production capabilities would determine the economic impact on the company regarding sales and sourcing.
In all of the above-mentioned factors, the customer is at the epicenter of all research and studies. What the customers need, their response and feedback, and also their grievances – these all insights are essential.
Ways To Tap Into The Customers
Of course, for new product innovations, tapping into the customers is vital. But how do you do that?
We’ve listed some ways you can use to tap into your customers.
Ever heard of a company managing an advisory council for its customers? Well, to your surprise, there are many such companies out there.
The critical role an advisory council performs is tapping into a firm’s power users.
As a result, the company gets what is engaging their customers and what else could be done to attract new customers.
Ideally, the advisory council, as already mentioned, taps into the crucial customers of a company. These customers are the ones leveraging a product successfully.
Independent industry experts, also known as industry gurus, greatly influence how a market operates.
K2M, a market leader in spinal correction device manufacturing, works with a set of surgeons. They call them key opinion leaders.
It has helped the company gather practical and conceptual feedback on its products.
As a result, the company confidently develops better products. While also fostering a positive relationship with their influential advocates.
Customer Service Portal
Real-time customer feedback can be an efficient tool for developing new products.
Companies often employ technological tools like setting up a Customer Service Portal to tap into these insights.
Such portals are capable of managing the critical operations involved in customer services. For example, creating and tracking service tickets, distributing workload, and metrics-based improvements advice.
The collective knowledge base offers reliable information to the customers and companies alike. In a nutshell, it helps track customer satisfaction which is at the epicenter of marketing innovative products.
Sourcing Crowd Opinions
Public polling over social media is one of the most relatable examples of crowdsourcing. Companies leverage interactions with the general crowd (consumers and non-consumers) for opinions on product success.
Lego and Dell are well known for their crowdsourcing efforts. They have specialized websites that gather votes and comments from the masses.
Crowdsourcing is perhaps a good strategy for creating a new product from scratch. Plus, it reduces the chances of deliberately making the changes and redesigning the product.
The process is often followed by “beta” product launches. These products are generally in their initial testing phase.
First of all, don’t confuse it with customer feedback. Customer interaction is a two-way process. Meaning, the company constantly engages in real-time communication with their customers.
For example, the comments section below a blog. It is a typical example of how companies can tap into consumer mindset by engaging with them in conversations.
Samsung’s dedicated app store features a unique channel where people can comment on their products and services. As a result, the company can continually refine its products.
The exact process can also be used for new product development.
There are generic forums, like Reddit and Quora, and there are dedicated discussion forums. The difference lies in the niche they serve.
Typically a generic forum would feature discussions from all industries. On the other hand, a dedicated forum would usually discuss topics related to a specific sector.
Forums can be an excellent source for capturing early customer and industry feedback. Consumers can openly discuss their grievances and suggest improvements for the same.
In many cases, the discussions may also include an upcoming market trend. Meaning, the company owners can’t miss any update, be it in the present or the future.
The Need For A Holistic Approach
Today, there are various channels to help your business tap into your customers. You can choose your pick from social media to Youtube, newspapers, forums, and even public events.
However, for practical product innovations, no single channel can prove to be helpful. Indeed, a mix of two or more strategies across several channels is needed.
When developing a new product, it is necessary to tap into the customers’ minds. And by now, you must have agreed to this fact.
But, what’s more important is finding the reliability of the customer data.
It should come as no surprise that the customer’s mind is believed to be a black box. At one moment, they may agree and accept a new product. And just the moment after it, they may feel it a waste of money.
Constantly innovating and refining the products to meet customer needs is essential. Therefore, a holistic approach is needed to tap into the customers.