Customer experience is the key to product innovation
What is common between Nokia, Kodak, and Revlon?
They were all market leaders in their categories during their prime – Nokia in the mobile segment, Kodak in the camera & film segment, and Revlon in the cosmetics segment.
All three were iconic brands that met with a downfall that no one would have ever predicted or imagined.
I had a very personal experience. I was looking at becoming a dealer for a storage battery company. I was told that the investment would be very high as they control about 93% of the market share. They further said that I don’t have to do anything to push the batteries as they automatically get sold.
I didn’t go for it as the investment was very high. Today, their market share is about 60%, and it is consistently dropping.
What is the reason for this?
They failed to adapt to the changing business demands of the consumers. They did not listen to their customers closely, and they were replaced by emerging brands that were innovating at a rapid pace.
According to a Mckinsey report, 84% of business leaders agree that innovation is critical to their growth. Most leaders have challenges in innovating with questions like:
- How can I rapidly launch products?
- How can I gain the leadership position in products I am good at?
- How can I diversify more?
- How can I expand to other geographies?
Often, you are not even aware of the challenges that lay ahead as you are not closely listening to your customers.
The key here is to seek feedback and closely listen to your customers. Before getting there, let us look at why you built your product and take it from there.
Why do you build your product?
The very reason that you built your product is that you identified a need that your product can fulfill. Alternately, you found some existing gaps in the incumbent products, and you look at addressing those gaps.
Even better, you build a product to address a latent need that people today don’t even know exists.
These are mainly the three reasons why you build a product. At the end of the day, you need paying customers who can make your business sustainable.
You would also seek insights from your likely users to validate all your assumptions and hypothesis. Once you have clarity on all of this, you start developing your product.
Then you run your product through your beta users, seek their feedback, and fix them.
How do you seek feedback from your beta users?
This is a very critical aspect of your product development. Even after your product becomes successful, you should continue seeking feedback from your customers to ensure that it aligns with their needs.
Here are a few basic questions that can help you get started:
1. What is it that you like in the product?
This is the core of your product, and you will have to keep growing it
2. What is it that you don’t like about the product?
This is why your product would likely not perform well. It has to be fixed before your product goes mainstream
3. What is it that you miss the most?
This is as important as fixing what your beta customers don’t like. This is what is going to keep you relevant in the market. Identify all that is missing, prioritize them, and get them to be a part of your product.
4. How much would you miss if we didn’t release this product?
This is an existential question of whether you have to be there competing for your customer’s attention. It also would open up information about your competition, the likely product that your customers would probably choose
5. Would you recommend this to your friends and family?
This would show you whether your beta customers feel comfortable being your ambassadors. This is the best marketing that you can ever do for your product.
This process of collecting feedback will have to be ongoing, and you should collect them at all touch points. After all, no organization can ignore innovation, and the best way to innovate is to provide what your customers want.
The only way you’d know what your customers want is by asking them the right questions at the right points of engagement. Else, no matter how big a brand you are, you will be the next dinosaur.