Brian A. Wuollet
During this time of rapid change, if technology teams allow only business-driven and product-driven initiatives to define their strategies, it can throw off an organization’s focus and lead to adverse outcomes for years to come. That is partly why more and more tech companies are placing new emphasis on customer-centricity when it comes to innovation.
For technology, this means that the customer is at the center of your decision-making, especially when it comes to innovation. According to Forrester, those who place customers at the forefront of their decisions perform 80% better on the S&P 500 index compared to those who don't. In addition, their clients are seven times more likely to be long-term customers, eight times more likely to try other products offered, and 15 times more likely to give a positive review by word of mouth. For the tech space, this is an important fact to note, as there is ongoing pressure to continuously innovate and launch new offerings faster.
Traditionally, engineers have created new products for tech firms, not end users. With a customer-centric approach, this old-school way of thinking needs to be flipped. Tech companies must listen to what a customer wants. Focus on solving problems and determining what the client values most.
One way to do this is to have client sponsors involved throughout the product development lifecycle. Businesses and clients must work together to co-create opportunities that provide solutions, not just products. A client sponsor program enables tech firms to collaborate directly with the client, define the problem correctly, discuss potential solutions, and validate the solution and product before building it. Client sponsors then test the solution created to ensure the design and build are in alignment with the expectations set during product discovery, and that those products and services are delivered in a timely manner.
With this type of approach, tech companies see higher adoption rates, reinforce their commitment to the customer, and reduce the amount of additional work needed after launching.
Customer-centricity is ongoing
To be truly customer-centric, organizations need to think long-term. Once the products are launched, the work really begins. With a focus on continuous process improvement, there must be constant feedback taken into consideration. The customer experience should always be at the heart of the process.
Here are some steps to consider to make that happen:
New employees may need to be brought up to speed on how your company interacts with customers, and existing team members can benefit from ongoing coaching to keep the customer front and center in all decisions.
Teams must stay in contact with the client, even during "downtimes," so teams know what upcoming expectations might be, and clients know what new technology is available. This is also vital just to keep your finger on the pulse of the market; insight-driven decision-making results in lifelong customers.
Opinions change. Needs evolve. Innovation starts, but never really ends. While the transformation of converting into a truly customer-centric organization is long and multifaceted, the advantages far exceed the efforts.
Brian Wuollet is Vice President of Product at Rev.io.