The Power of Customer Collaboration

The survival of a business today is highly dependent on customer satisfaction. Customers have access to multiple options and if there’s a service lapse, there’s a high chance that the customer will move to the competition. In order to understand customer needs and achieve customer satisfaction, some companies are involving their customers in the customer service process.

Customer Involvement is the active participation of customers in different parts of an organization’s business. This could be in different areas such as product development, marketing, and customer service. It involves engaging customers to learn about their needs, preferences, and expectations so that products and services can be made in a way that better meets their needs.

Importance of Customer Involvement

1. Clearer Understanding of Customer Needs: 
Companies that involve their customers at different areas of their operations, get to better understand their needs and preferences. Therefore, these companies make products and services that cater to their customer’s needs.

2. Improved Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
When customers feel that their opinions are heard and valued, they are more likely to be happy with the product or service because it answers their needs. This then translates to customer retention and loyalty.

3. Enhanced Brand Reputation
Companies that encourage customer participation in their operations are considered to be more customer centric hence boosting their reputation and attracting new customers.

4.  Increased Innovation
Companies can get new ideas and insights that they may not have thought of, by engaging their customers. This can prompt development of products and services that better satisfies the customer needs. 

5. Reduced Chance of Product Failure

By involving customers in product development and testing, businesses can decrease the risk of product recalls or even failure.

How do customers get to participate?
1. Customer Feedback: Get feedback on customers' interactions with goods and services in order to improve future offerings.

2. Crowd sourcing: This involves requesting suggestions and input from a large group of people through online platforms.

3. Co-creation: This involves working with customers to create new goods and services. This is mainly practiced in sectors like technology.

4. Co-Design: To ensure that the final product satisfies the customer, they get involved in the design phase. This is mainly used in the fashion industry.

5. Co-production: This involves customers at the manufacturing phase where they can offer their input on the final product which can then increase the quality of the finished product. For instance, restaurants getting feedback on the flavor and presentation of the food.

Case Study: Gillette
A report by Deloitte indicates that in 2018, Gillette launched its “heated razor” concept to gauge early-stage customer interest through the crowdfunding platform, IndieGogo. The crowd informed the design and helped move the razor into production, purchasing the allotted 1,200 razors within a matter of weeks.

In Summary
By engaging customers and having them participate in different areas of the business helps to build a sense of partnership and ownership between the customer and the business. This then translates to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.