Customer experience

4 tips to kickstart your customer co-creation initiative

As times and needs evolve, the role of the consumer has changed. From being isolated, they are now connected; from being unaware, they are now informed. And from being passive in the creation process, they are now participating more actively than ever before. 

According to professors Prahalad and Venkatram Ramaswamy in their journal article ‘Co‐creating unique value with customers’, co-creation is ‘the joint creation of value by the company and the customer; allowing the customer to co-construct the service experience to suit their context’.  

Also termed as ‘open innovation’, the customer co-creation process is about communication and dialogue. It’s about getting feedback and input to improve existing products or create new products and servicesIt’s much more than having a better market fit; the end-of-day purpose is to truly bring value and benefits to the customer by listening to what they need. 

The magic of customer co-creation 

It is clear: to be relevant, companies today can no longer innovate alone. Customer engagement is essential – from the design, development and launch of products to the execution of marketing messages and fulfillment of orders. 

Here are 4 quick pointers to get you started on your co-creation initiatives: 

  1. Make it easy for customers to give their input

    When gathering opinions – whether online or through face-to-face meetings – make it easy for customers to engage with you. Is your online registration a one-step process? Or does the customer have to navigate through pages of online forms asking for personal information? Is there even a need for registration? Simplifying the process would encourage more customers to let you know what they really think. 

  2. Make it fun and interactive

    It’s not quite simply about launching a survey form. Take a cue from IKEA, the largest furniture retailer in the world who launched ‘Co-Create IKEA’, their digital crowdsourcing platform in 2018.  Customers are invited to get involved in IKEA’s co-creation projects through interactive activities and status updates posted online on an ongoing basis. This initiative has led to thousands of customer suggestions and increased brand value for the Swedish multi-national group.  

  3. Don’t just talk to your best customers

    We all love great feedback, and many organisations make the mistake of only hearing from customers who love them. Be brave! Invite dialogue with customers who have used your products or services and have less than good things to say about them. This group of customers who actually care enough to speak up usually provide the most valuable insights. The session may be challenging, but you will be on the right track to achieve the outcome you are looking for: improving your products and services for the people who really matter. 

  4. Start as soon as possible

    To ensure that your products best fit your customers’ needs, involve them in the design thinking process starting from the very initial product development stage. According to Consumer Insights and Qualitative Market Research expert Zoe Aitken, ‘customers are far more likely to engage with the (innovation) process and build on ideas during the first stage where nothing is concrete yet. Ideas that are too finely crafted tend to incite less feedback, as customers will be less inclined to give new suggestions to something that is more or less complete. 

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