Season 5: Innovating for impact

Innovation starts with your customer, Nikkia Reveillac
Part 4 of 4

The process of continuous customer engagement

In the world of product development, understanding the needs of your customer isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s an ongoing journey, requiring commitment and dedication to ensure that what you build truly adds value to people’s lives. It needs to become part of the DNA of your company which involves developing a process of continuous customer engagement. But what does this entail? Let’s break it down.

First and foremost, the work of understanding customer needs must begin early in the development process. From the initial concept, it’s crucial to immerse yourself in the world of your target audience, seeking insights and feedback that will shape your solution. By starting early, you lay the groundwork for a product or service that resonates deeply with its users.

But early engagement is just the beginning. It’s essential to engage with your customers throughout the journey. This means integrating moments for feedback and iteration into every stage of development. Whether it’s through user testing, surveys or focus groups, consistently soliciting input ensures that your solution remains aligned with customer needs and preferences.

And it doesn’t stop there! The work of understanding your customers must continue even after your product or service is out in the world. In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, customers’ needs are constantly shifting. Social media trends come and go, and customer preferences evolve with them. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to listen, observe and reflect on user feedback continuously. This ongoing dialogue allows you to adapt and refine your product to better meet the ever-changing needs of your audience.

Consistency is key in this endeavour. Providing users with irregular experiences can undermine trust and reliability. By maintaining a consistent focus on user needs throughout the development process, you build a foundation of trust and credibility that strengthens your brand and fosters long-term loyalty.

How to communicate customer insights to your team

Communicating customer insights to internal teams should always be clear and compelling. You’ve got to ensure that your insights drive action inside of the company. If sharing customer insights is your responsibility, your work only has impact if it enables a decision or action.

Here are five critical steps to ensuring that your insights’ deliverables drive impact:

  1. Know your audience
    By that I mean the people within your company who you’ll be sharing these insights with. You should know them so well that you are able to show how your insights can help them achieve their goals.
  2. Craft your message
    Once you know your audience and how they like to receive information, you can convey your message with intention for maximum impact.
  3. Create a point of view
    An effective point of view (POV) should bring together multiple perspectives, including your customer insights, business strategy, competitive trends, historical context, and clearly articulate what the organization should or should not do as a result of your learnings.
  4. Package everything up
    This is where you package everything up, organizing and sharpening your insights so that it becomes a source of truth and convinces your manager, team or colleagues to care. Your report or notes should take them on a journey with a distillation of the key takeaways in a way that is easy to navigate while remaining memorable.
  5. Communicate your insights
    How you choose to communicate your insights should depend on what works best for your internal audience and the action you want them to take. For example, if you’d like to generate a discussion then emailing a detailed memo beforehand, followed by an in-person slide presentation may be an ideal way to give your audience what they need to come prepared to discuss, debate and hopefully align with your POV. In other instances, a simple infographic may be a memorable way to distil insights that are more informational and necessitate a business decision. The important thing is to strategically tailor your insights share-out strategy to your audience’s needs to help them make the best decision.

Cultivating a culture of continuous customer engagement is essential for creating products that truly make a difference in people’s lives. By starting early, engaging often and remaining vigilant in your efforts – and then communicating these findings in the best way possible with your internal teams to drive decision-making and action – you can ensure that your solution remains relevant and impactful in an ever-changing world.

So, as we come to the end of this masterclass around putting our customers at the heart of our innovation strategies, let’s commit to the ongoing work of understanding and serving our customers’ needs, because ultimately, that’s what innovation is all about.