Leverage customer interaction to improve your products and services

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NPS is a widely used methodology to measure CX - in fact it’s nearly ubiquitous and has gained a massive following around the world - primarily because of its simplicity and equally importantly - as a measure of predicting customer loyalty - and in turn profitability. Most companies have NPS / CX programs in place that collect feedback from customers on a regular basis - even on a transactional basis. This is typically done as a post transaction solicitation for a survey. The transaction can be a “Purchase” or even a “Customer Support” interaction. In many cases, it can even be an interaction with your software platform - at the “Logout” of a session etc. We propose that companies leverage this customer interaction to make it easy for them to Innovate and Co-Develop products & services with a simple addition of a single smart question - “Give us one idea on how we can improve our product or service?”

Innovation and co-creation with every customer

Open-Innovation is the term used to describe the idea that, by having diversity of thought in the innovation process - i.e. keeping it ‘Open’ - the range of ideas is vastly expanded and thereby the net result is that empirically better ideas come out of this process. This is similar to brainstorming with strangers - that allows the mind to think of the non-obvious solutions to complex problems.

Furthermore, it’s been proven that customers are the one of the best sources of innovation. They consume your product in a variety of ways and many have design thinking skills to creatively use solutions that the original designers never could have imagined. The example here is a photo of a John Deer Tractor used to generate electricity during a storm in India.

These customer “created” solutions are vastly diverse, creative and lead to breakthrough ideas.

Injecting Innovation into Feedback

With the addition of a single question - asking the customer to “Look forward with you” - changes the dynamic of a CX/NPS program - from being a backward looking (“Tell us how we did”) - to a “Let do something amazing together” paradigm. These are the virtues of co-creation that have helped companies think beyond the internal board room and obvious.

Signal vs. noise - Needle in the haystack

There are 2 main challenges implementing these innovation programs:

  • Organizational Buy-IN that one of the sources of Innovations can be customers
  • Structural implementation issues around Signal vs. Noise - If every customer has a new idea - how do we sort and organize them effectively and efficiently. How do we differentiate between noise and signal?

Let’s look at both of these

Customers as a source of innovation

The concept of “Design Thinking” has gained a lot of attention and traction recently. This process effectively applies a model that - at its core is about diversity of thought. It effectively states that - truly breakthrough ideas can be generated if constraints are removed and put aside. Customers do not know about organizational / internal constraints. Employees know about them.

For example - within QuestionPro - like every other SaaS platform we have bugs, issues, customer tickets etc. - all to deal with on a daily basis - and that weighs in heavily on our decision and thinking process. This “Weight” is not there for our customers - granted they have their own set of issues - but they are outside the scope and bubble of our operational issues.

Customers can “think” without operational constraints about our product and services. They can come up with ideas that we would summarily dismiss - partly because we have constrained thinking.

Signal vs. Noise

If we accept the premise above - where customers have diversity of thought and unconstrained thinking, we are then faced with the challenge of differentiating between good/implementable ideas and tangential/boil-the-ocean ideas. We have, very effectively, used a simple voting concept - by the customers themselves to sift/sort these ideas into more meaningful and applicable categories.

Once a customer posts an idea - they are given 5 votes - to distribute amongst all the _other_ ideas - this is a perfect trade-off balance. This forces everyone to allocate their votes between all the other ideas in a meaningful way - can’t say everything is important.

The screenshot here shows how this is implemented on QuestionPro.



While the efficacy of NPS has been debated for over 15+ years now, the underlying model for segregation customers between “Advocates” - “Lurkers” and “Haters” is a fundamental construct in satisfaction and loyalty modeling. This process for sourcing innovative ideas from customers allows companies to leverage customer feedback interactions into sources of competitive advantage and constructive ideas.