In today’s world, which can be called an “experience economy”, there is much evidence to suggest that there is a strong connection between necessity, innovation, and experience. Therefore, listening to (but also feeling) the voice of customers is critical for an organization to innovate in a targeted way.
It was with great enthusiasm that inBe participated in the 2022 edition of Creaform Innovation Day (“Journée de l’innovation Creaform”), which focused on the importance of the voice of customers in innovation. It was not only inspiring to hear how two great innovators, Creaform and Prevost, consider the voice of customers in their innovation process, but also motivating to understand how they integrate it in their company’s culture and decision-making process.
How about being first to market with a brilliant new technology or disrupting a category with a revolutionary service? Of course, this can be called innovation, but it can be much more powerful if it can act as a repeated pattern of behavior within an organization.
At Creaform, innovation is a wheel that keeps on turning and aligns with the company’s strategic objectives. It is the balance between creativity, perceived value by the customer and fit with the company’s vision. As a result of this balance, its range of engineering products and services has expanded significantly over the past 20 years, making it a leader in 3D innovation.
Prevost’s innovation process is rooted in the principle of offering something relevant and distinct to customers. For this major player in the automotive industry—and an active member of the VOLVO family—building a strong brand is supported by innovation. And to reach the pinnacle of innovation, one must start by listening to the voice of customers and understanding their needs.
The Voice of Customers and Beyond
Customers don’t always express a need they may have, because they don’t know they have that need until a product or service is created to fulfill it. The voice of customers is the process of not only gathering customer feedback, but more importantly, understanding and feeling it to directly improve a product or a service. This gives an organization the confidence that it is talking to its target market.
To be able to listen to the unmet needs of its customers, Prévost demonstrates proximity to them through quality and compassion, and focuses on innovation through creativity and simplicity. For Creaform, listening to the voice of customers allows them to design innovations based on visibility, value, and novelty for customers.
So, when customers complain about an unmet need or a faulty process, most companies’ first instinct is to fix the process—not to change it altogether. Addressing customer feedback is important, but acting solely on that data will create and perpetuate a company that is reactive and focused on just repairing or fixing—not one that truly “innovates” the customer experience and gives customers what they need, not just what they want.
Innovation as a Mindset
Think of companies that have upended established industries based on latent customer needs. Harnessing innovation to fuel experience-based business growth is more than developing new products and services or participating in a hackathon to generate new ideas to solve a particular problem. Innovation is a mindset and listening to the voice of customers is key to taking the next step to effectively convert what customers want into what they need.