Styled desktop with keyboard, lamp and pencils

How to Let Your Customers Drive Innovation in Your Business

Filed Under: Innovation | Podcast | Strategy
Date Published: April 7, 2020
By: Claire

Innovation ideas come from many places, and one of them is your customers!

On today’s episode, Claire will share examples of how clients led companies to innovate and ideas on how to collect and analyse your customers’ data to find the places you can focus on your business and better help them.

Listen to find out:

  • A story about how customers shifted completely the purpose of an app and led it to success.
  • Way of looking at what your customers are using your app and what they need.
  • How to read your customers behaviour and how it is impacting your business.
  • How you can better delight your customers and whether you need to pivot or not to do it.

Get in Touch:

Transcript of this episode:

Do you let your customers tell you what to do? No? Well, maybe you should. 

In this week’s episode, we talk about some examples of success with innovation that is driven by customers. Will also go into how to start using customer feedback and customer behaviour to guide your innovation strategy. I think it’s going to be a good one. 

Hi, my name is Claire. Over the last nine years, I’ve worked in innovation teams across industries including research, manufacturing, retail and technology. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly when it comes to innovating on behalf of customers. And now I alongside my esteemed guests, I’m sharing these learnings with you to help you avoid the mistakes and capitalise on my learnings and their learnings to grow your business through innovation. 

Ready to learn more about letting customers build up your innovation strategy for you? I thought so, let’s dive in!

Have you ever heard of Instagram? I’m going to go right ahead and just assume that you have. So did you know that Instagram was originally created as a geo tagging app? Yeah, no, neither did I until a few weeks ago. But Instagram, the photo app, was born by letting customers drive the innovation. 

When the team first launched their app, it wasn’t about photos. It was about geo tagging. But what they saw was that all of their customers and all of the people using the app, were really only interested in their photo filters. And they were getting a lot of engagement on the different filters they were offering. Seeing this and seeing how the customers were using the platform that they had created, they decided to pivot and turn it into a photo app. They dug into making the filters a big thing and making all of the features specifically around photos and photo sharing, really good. And really good is like a very simplistic way of saying what they did, they really nailed it. 

Eventually they were bought by Facebook for over a billion. And, I would think we can all agree that Instagram is a very successful product and a very successful app that many of us use on a daily basis. All of this might not have happened if they hadn’t listened to their customers, and use their customers to grow that innovation strategy, and pivot when they needed to, into something that was going to add more value. 

So how can you be like Instagram and use your customers to guide your innovation strategy? Well, the first thing you need to do is start looking for signals from your customers. Think about what they’re doing. How are your customers using your website or your app? What are they asking for? I think people when they like something, and when they decide something about your product, they’re going to be very vocal. If there’s nothing you are hearing, then it means that people don’t care enough probably to say something. And I know that’s going to sound a bit harsh and a bit tough love. But you want to be listening out to understand what your customers are saying about you, what they’re asking for? What people are saying on social media about what you’re doing? And try get as much feedback as you possibly can on your customers and your customer behaviour. Look at the customer journey data you’re collecting from your products. How are customers using it? Where are you getting the most engagement? And how can you use this to drive your innovation strategy? One thing you can rely on customers to do is to be vocal, either in their purchase actions or in their voices, and giving you feedback about your product. Whether it’s good or bad. All of this can help you build up a strong and profitable innovation strategy. 

Okay, so now you’ve got the customer signal data and you’re pretty clear on what is happening.

The challenge is to really understand this data, and what it is telling you and how you can use it to build out your innovation strategy. You don’t have to take it at face value, spend some time really diving deep into the different metrics and understanding what people are doing and how they’re using your app. Think about how you can use multiple signals, you don’t want to just look at one data point. Because you could see that yes, this product is getting loads of engagement and loads of likes, and people are really enjoying it. But actually, it’s not converting so it’s not driving any sales. It’s really just diverting all of your traffic away from things that could actually make you money. So, is this the right strategy for you to innovate more in this product? Or should you be focusing on growing the items that are getting greater conversions and driving more revenue? I think you know the answer to that one. 

So, one of the things that you could do if you’re seeing that customers are having problems and you’re seeing that they are struggling when it comes to interacting with your product, is to try and do an exercise like the five wise, where you look at a problem that your customer is having, and ask yourself, why five times to understand the root cause of this issue. Now, you know, I’m a big fan of this kind of asking yourself why and trying to understand on a deeper level the customer problems that you’re having. So, it should come as no surprise that you want to be using this when you’re looking at developing a customer driven innovation strategy. 

Another thing you could look at is A/B testing. If you’ve got two potential solutions, look at testing the both simultaneously to understand which performs better in a real world situation.

Think about doing multiple different tests. Remember that you should only be updating one part of your product at a time so that you can attribute the results that you get from that test to the change that you made -or the one change that you made- and that will help you better understand what your customers are trying to tell you. And what they prefer about your product, is it A or is it B?

Really spend time looking at and understanding your data, you need to make sure that you know exactly what customers want, and how you can improve the customer experience to help them engage with your product more. Once you have your customer data, you might want to think about if it’s time for a pivot. Is the data you’ve gathered a one off small bug that you can fix, or is it a trend? Are you seeing much like Instagram that people want to use your photo filters? Should you become a photo filter app? Probably not. I think we probably have enough of those unless you already are a photo filter app, of course, in which case I’m sure yours is the best.

But think about whether it’s a trend or a long term thing that you need to really look at and understanding more details, or if this is a one off. If it’s a one off, fix it, if it’s a long term trend, think about building a deeper understanding of your customers, a deeper understanding of the potential solutions, and prioritising the actions that are really going to add value and pivot into those that are going to help you innovate on behalf of customers in a positive way. 

Think about what would it take to delight customers in this space? Are there any other examples from different industries which you love? And what could you bring to your product that customers may also appreciate, but they’ve not seen in this space before. That’s one way to innovate. And one way to do this for customers in a way that’s unexpected and can delight them. 

Another thing is just really, if there’s something you’re hearing a lot on social media that they like, how can you make that a more common feature? How can you really double down on that feature to build out a strong and successful product for your customers, and let them guide your innovation in that way? One thing I will say is that to make any of these strategies work, you need to have a good process in place to collect customer feedback. So, how are you gathering information from your customers that’s going to help them drive your innovation strategy? Are you collecting customer behaviour data on your app or on your website? Are you doing surveys to get direct feedback? Are you asking your clients for feedback when you’re working with them one on one? How are you collecting customer data? And how can you use this data to guide your innovation and guide your product development strategy? You don’t want to end up having spent all of this time building one thing only to realise that the market has moved on and people are more interested in something else. This needs to be a continuous and iterative process that you can use again and again, to be able to get information from customers and drive your customer innovation roadmap.

So, this has been a very short episode on how you can let your customers drive your innovation. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the things that we’ve talked about today. But to summarise, when you get into business, you’re normally trying to help a specific type of person. As you grow your customers, you need to keep that spirit alive and let your customers drive your innovation. 

To do this, you should think about what is happening with your current experience. Why is this happening? What’s the root cause of the problem? Or what’s the root cause of the increased engagement in another space? Is it a trend or is it just a one off? Do you really need to action this, or is it just Something you can fix quickly? And how can you delight customers in this space? What can you do that’s going to allow them to really engage more and grow in a way that they’re excited about and you’re excited about delivering? And finally, how can you continue to collect data and improve upon and iterate upon the experiences that you’re getting and make sure that this is part of your processes and your business as usual way of running an innovation strategy for your company?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little ditty on letting customers great drive your innovation. Even though it’s been a short episode, I think it’s a really important one. Because there are a lot of us say that we are customer driven and customer focused. It’s sometimes you need that little kick up the ass and that little bit of motivation to really remind yourself of how you can let customers drive your innovation. 

So that’s it for this episode. Tune in next Tuesday for your top of inspiring innovation stories and techniques. Next week we’re going to be discussing how to use your data and understand what it’s telling you, building a lot upon some of the topics we’ve touched on today. 

Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on your podcast provider so you don’t miss an episode. If you have time, please leave a review as it helps others find the podcast and helps me get great guests for you. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and I’ll see you again next week.