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Thursday
Apr192012

Customer Insight Drives Innovation

Why the driver of innovation today is insight, not technology.

Companies need to deliver new and innovative offerings to attract and retain customers.  Simply put, innovation occurs when your customer says:  “Wow!  I’ll buy that.”

Innovation is important because customer expectations are changing and the competition is innovating to lure customers away from your business.

Many times companies look to technology to help drive innovation.  This makes sense because new technologies really are shaking up the way businesses interact with their customers.  The problem with a technology driven approach is the overwhelming number of options available.  It’s also easy to lose sight of the customer and get caught up in chasing the latest and greatest technology fads.

A better approach is to start by understanding the purpose or belief that drives your company forward.  In his excellent TED talk, Simon Sinek states, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Now go out and talk with customers – as in real live conversations with real live people.  No email or texting is permitted.  Focus on understanding your customers and their needs.  What do they really care about?  What is the real benefit they receive from your company?  What problems are they experiencing?  What ideas do they have?  The only difference between a problem and an idea is the language used to describe it.

Tap into your experience and intuition to develop customer insight that allows you to distinguish between what customers say they want and what they really need.  Use your customer insight to evaluate ideas and technologies.  Think about how you can change the way customers interact with your business.  Think about how you can improve the overall customer experience.

The driver of innovation today is insight, not technology.

Have courage – don’t be encumbered by how things have been done in the past.  If you’re not willing to take market share from another part of your business, your competition will gladly do it for you.

Technology can be used to meet the status quo or make something new.  Maintaining the status quo doesn’t help you win new business – it simply keeps you from being eliminated from consideration in the first round.  Successful companies use technology to support and enhance their competitive advantages.

The real value of new technology is rethinking how customers interact with your business.

Companies need customers to stay in business.  Innovation is a key element for attracting and retaining new customers.  Innovation is driven by customer insight.  The more you know about your customers, the better your chances for creating new offerings that they will notice and buy.