July 7, 2020

Most business people I speak with say their business is customer-focused. Alas – more than 80% are kidding themselves. Most of them know little about their customers and potential customers. Rather than getting into the head of their consumers, they tend to imply their unreliable intuition.

More recently, there has been a move by more enlightened businesses to become not just customer-focused but customer-obsessed. Further, it so happens that many of these enlightened businesses are the market leaders, including the likes of Zappos and Apple. One reflection of this customer obsession has been a trend towards product co-creation.

Co-creation involves the collaboration of a business and its customers to develop new value – concepts, experiences, solutions, products or the web design. It is a form of collaborative innovation. The impact of co-creation is highlighted in the following statistics from a recent study:

  • 81% of consumers view a brand – developed collaboratively – as more authentic.
  • 86% of customers cite co-created brands as being more trustworthy.
  • 58% of businesses in Europe have used co-creation to drive product innovation.

Approaches to co-creation range from the use of simple co-creation workshops or collaborative working groups to sophisticated brand communities. It can involve market research, structured ideation and experimentation. Referring to brand communities, the following statistics are relevant:

  • 86% of Fortune 500 companies say brand communities provide insights into customer needs.
  • 96% of businesses say brand communities drive customer collaboration.
  • 66% of businesses use brand communities for product development.

Product co-creation and the use of brand communities to address co-creation is increasingly popular for good reasons, including:

  • Reduced waste
  • Increased margins
  • Increased sales

The last blog in this series addressed the importance of understanding and leveraging the customer journey. This can also involve a collaborative process – with the business working with its customers to:

  • Map the customer journey.
  • Identify critical touch points.
  • Identify and address expectations at each touch point.

This approach to leveraging touchpoints has been found to be highly effective in reducing marketing costs and increasing revenues – mainly because – no one knows the customer journey and expectations more than the customer.

A common touchpoint for most products, brands and businesses is the website. Websites are inevitably built by well-meaning managers who are not the target market – and pay lip service to understand how customers and potential customers might use the site and their expectations of the website. This results in an educated guess about the design, functionality and content of the site.

More recently, however, enlightened businesses have been using the co-creation approach to the development of websites, to maximise traffic and engagement at the lowest possible cost. The co-creation approach to website development might involve – establishing a ‘co-creation panel of customers and working with them to:

  • Understand the customer journey and where the website fits in,
  • Understand the search process and keywords,
  • Understand the needs and expectations of the site,
  • Test reactions to designs, content and functionality,
  • Test the semi-finished site to identify issues to be addressed,
  • and test how easy the site is to find and engage with.

This approach can deliver a truly customer-focused approach to developing the optimal website and will contribute to addressing the customer journey in general optimally.

When developing your next website or updating your existing website – consider co-creation. It will not only deliver a better site – but it will represent great PR and an outstanding learning experience

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