- Customer insight.
- Customer focus.
- Customer solutions.
- Customer management.
- Customer process.
- Customer contact.
- Customer loyalty.
The key here is that- companies must identify the first task a customer must do to initiate purchase of its product and effectively map the entire process of the customer’s journey to its product (or services).
Next in sequence is to focus on various customer touch points such as- offices, stores, billing or invoicing, phone, emails, media, marketing, events, internet, social media sites, sales staff interactions, social groups, word of mouth etc.
A customer may state in general terms- better, quicker, dependable. Customer-centric innovation calls for deeper understanding of the customer’s needs, to delve into a wider scope of that need, evaluate the unmet need and design your product (or services) accordingly.
For example, a customer states- 'he wants to buy insurance'. For a customer-centric innovator company, this statement means- the customer is actually not “buying insurance” rather “obtaining protection”. The wider scope of “obtaining protection” ignites more ideas for the insurance company to build more service solutions and features into their products, than “buying insurance” might have brought to light, see what I mean?
Here are 5 attributes to successfully attain customer-centric innovation:
- Customer delight: Engage with customer from Get Go.
- Listen to the customer: Bring forth customer commitment top down. Inculcate and nurture customer centric workplace culture. Recognize the customer across all levels of the business.
- Find unmet customer need: Design policies and business processes from customer’s point of view. Measure what matters to customers.
- Think inside the box: Scattered brainstorming doesn’t work. Both Research as well as Development has to be strategic.
- Create products and services as per customer demands. i.e. Design and Develop products based on the unmet customer need.
Lastly but not the least, encourage customer feedback. Change customer satisfaction to a state of customer delight. This alone shall differentiate your product (or service) from being "one among many" to your customer’s "preferred choice"
Shruti Bhat PhD MBA Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is Pharmaceutical R&D and Continuous Improvement Director, Innoworks Canada
Shruti leads path-breaking product development programs such as Complex Generics, Nanotechnology and Targeted delivery systems for pharmaceuticals and natural products. Her mantra is to "Shorten development timelines, build quality-by-design, lean processes and bring products fast- to- market". Shruti integrates her proficiency in Design Thinking, Lean, Kaizen and other Continuous Improvement methodologies to improve R&D processes, productivity and profitability.
Shruti is Product Development & Continuous Improvement Advisor to several start ups, mid-size and growing firms in Canada, USA, India, Africa and other Emerging markets. Shruti has authored six books and is an invited speaker at several conferences and workshops.
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