Listen-to-your-customer

An easy but very powerful key question in commercial innovation

What makes them happy?

This is what we always really need to know about our (potential) customers...

Sometimes we forget to focus on this main reason for commercial innovation initiatives. We say quite easily that we know THE customer. But is that even so if we want to create something new (products or services) in order to better meet expectations of current customers and especially potential customers. Do we know enough what the real (emotional) challenges are to do better with new products and services, compared to the competition? Or does the actual competition may be better? Do we know 'them'? What makes them really happy?

Developing new services, products or even new customer approaches, without a clear answer to this key question doesn't solve anything. In many companies, design teams and R & D teams are working on the innovations of the future, but at a great distance from the end user / customer.

Therefore these 5 tips:

1. Learn about 'them': learn and experience the customer in real life, and not only from desk research. Test and co-create with customers at all stages of innovation and even during the roll out. Learn about the actual impact of competition on your customers.

2. Involve marketing and sales from the start: they know the customers in a different way and have access to them. By involving them actively from the start, it will become also easier for them to sell or market these new services and products afterwards. They will better understand what the added value for the customer will be.

3. Understand happiness: learn how to work with in-depth interviews, panels or focus groups in all phases of the development / commercial innovation. Go to the bottom to understand in detail what 'Happy' really means and how this can be reached during the customer journey towards happiness.

4. Create a system of  Learning Cycles: make use of short learning cycles with (internal and external) customers as important test. Adjust quickly in the learning process after interaction with and  feedback of the customers. Build, measure, learn, build further!

5. Don't forget 'The Quality of ideas * Execution = Value': The world’s simplest formula… explains why you can’t forget commercialization. Develop and test therefore The Most Valuable Commercial Approach.

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