According to the Huffington Post, 70 percent of companies that deliver outstanding customer experience rely on customer feedback. Smart brands have long since realized that it’s customers control whether a product or service goes to market successfully.
Co-creation, the process where brands and consumers work together to create better ideas, products and services, is a happy medium. Brands still steer product innovation, but customers have a seat at the (head of the) table.
Five brands, in particular, stand out for excellence in customer-centric innovation.
DEWALT: Gathering invention submissions for new products
DEWALT is a leading manufacturer of high-quality power tools. Millions of professionals rely on the company to produce the latest durable products that solve new challenges on the worksite. To understand the direction technology and innovation need to go, DEWALT has an award-winning insight community of more than 10,000 end users.
The company uses its community to get to know customers and their needs while gathering product, packaging and marketing feedback. DEWALT also has an invention submission where professional tradesmen and loyal customers submit ideas for entirely new product lines.
“Competition is fierce,” says Ward Smith, the group product manager at DEWALT, “everyone’s trying to launch more tools, faster. You need a fast and accurate assessment tool to be more reactive in the marketplace.”
LEGO: Inspiring the next generation of creators
(Photo credit: Lego.com)
LEGO has long seen the value in co-creating products with customers (both young and old). For example, LEGO Ideas is an online community where members can discover cool creations by other fans and submit their own designs for new sets. Fans can vote on submissions and give feedback. If a project gets 10,000 votes, LEGO reviews the idea and picks a winner for an official LEGO Ideas set to be created and sold worldwide. The creator gives final product approval, earns a percentage of the sales and is recognized as the creator on all packaging and marketing. This concept celebrates loyal customers and rewards them for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism.
DHL: Co-creating the future of delivery services
DHL, the world’s largest mail and logistics services company, knows the importance of innovating with the customer in mind. To tackle the challenge of improving supply chains and logistics, the company hosts hands-on workshops with customers in Germany and Singapore. Loyal DHL customers have participated in more than 6,000 engagements, including the workshops, to co-create solutions that improve the experience for everyone.
One of the many inventions that originated from a workshop is the Parcelcopter, a test drone delivery service project based in Germany that could change DHL’s services forever. While standard mail-delivery vehicles typically take half hour to deliver, the Parcelcopter only needs eight minutes. Community members co-created the idea and tested out the potential service, bringing their packages to what DHL is calling a “Parcelcopter Skyport.”
The business results for DHL has been phenomenal. According to Forbes, DHL’s co-creation efforts resulted in customer satisfaction scores rising to over 80 percent, on-time delivery performance increasing to 97 percent or higher and customer churn to decrease. It’s also a cool idea.
Manchester City FC: Gathering fan feedback to launch new branding
(Photo credit: uefa.com)
For a football club and well-loved brand like Manchester City FC, any brand or website updates must be bounced off loyal supporters prior to launch in order to avoid serious backlash. Beyond dodging negative sentiment, Manchester City leadership knows how invested fans are in the success of the brand and sees the value in working together.
The club wanted to make improvements to the overall look and feel of both the web and mobile experience. Manchester City leadership gathered feedback throughout the brand refresh by launching several focus groups, surveys, user tests and prototype designs. Together the club and supporters co-created a mobile-first, video-rich experience that better features trending and relevant content with modern design.
Made.com: Emerging new talent given a career-boosting chance
E-retail furniture company Made.com puts the power in the buyer’s hands to decide which designs go from the drawing board into production. Made.com has limited showroom space in the UK, so it relies on Made Unboxed online community, where customers upload photos of Made furniture in their homes and get inspired by interior design ideas.
Made Talent Lab hosts an annual online contest, Made Emerging Talent Award (similar to LEGO Ideas) in which budding new designers submit their work for other designers and customers to vote on. If a design gets enough votes, earns the attention of judges and wins the contest, the piece is produced and sold on Made.com within 12 months. The company publicizes the design, giving the fledgling designer exposure, a career boost and royalties.
“The link between the customer has gone well beyond functionality and brand,” says retail customer experience consultant, Francesca Danzi, on why she thinks Made is a great example of co-creation. “It is deeper, and it helps people to express themselves in a creative way and really participate with their own tastes, with their own knowhow, and with their own style, into the life of a brand.”
As these examples show, companies win when they embrace customer-centric innovation.
To learn how to bring customer intelligence into your innovation process, check out The Enterprise Guide to Innovation.
Note: A version of this article was first published in October 2013. This post was updated to include new information and examples.