Customer Communities and Innovation

Innovation is taking on mantra status among companies looking for a competitive edge in the markets. You know the topic has currency when a publication like Business Week dedicates a website to it. Companies increasingly recognize that innovation is key to remaining competitive in the market, maintaining profitable customer relationships, and delivering a good experience. Historically, companies met the challenge to innovate by growing their own research and development organizations. While R&D organizations continue in their importance to a company’s innovation process, executive management recently began taking note that the initiative to innovate and improve products and services is not limited to its own staff. Innovation comes from near and far in the market, from employees as well as customers. 

Businesses sponsoring customer communities are responding to the recognition that innovation processes are more likely to develop successful products and services if they meet customer needs. Of course, the challenge is in figuring out the needs of the customer. In some instances, the interesting information to gather about customer needs comes from the ways in which unique individual users, called “lead users“, adapt products or services to their own purposes. In other instances, the interesting information comes from examining the responses, extremely positive or extremely negative, made by a significant number of users regarding a product or service, as in a survey or an online community discussion list or blog. Companies that recognize the importance of learning from customers, to enhance their internal efficiencies and increase customer retention, develop data insights into both kinds of customer experience. Customers who positively score products or services at the extreme end of a scale are the most likely customers to develop a community status of “lead user.”

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2 Responses to Customer Communities and Innovation

  1. So happy to digest such a interesting article that does not depend on cheap rhetoric to get the topic fulfilled. Thanks for an enjoyable read.

  2. Larry Irons says:

    Glad you enjoyed it.

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