New products and services are often developed on a relatively tight schedule and there are many things to take into consideration in the development. When the launch of the new product/ service is approaching and different internal and external stakeholders have various requirements and wishes regarding the development, decisions are surprisingly often made solely based on gut feel or on a small internal teams thoughts and ideas alone.
When the development process is moving forward with a fast pace, the thought of asking for feedback from customers often feels time consuming. Even when customer led development is a great thing to pursue, finding and reaching the relevant people to gather feedback and ideas can feel difficult and slow. In addition relevant questions needs to be designed to be able to gather relevant feedback from these customers. Sometimes it can even feel like a risk to ask for customers’ feedback when the development has already gone a long way and going backwards in the process would destroy the development timeline. It is also possible that when you receive a research report you end up having even more questions than before. Then trying to reach out to the customers again is even more too time-consuming and slows the process significantly.
LeanLab community has been the solution for several companies to help resolve their product and service development challenges. The community consist of customers (and in addition can include non-customers) who are always ready to share their preferences, wishes and challenges/ frustrations as well as sharing their thoughts on the company’s ideas and development plans.
The LeanLab community helps product and service development teams with light and quick AB testing as well as getting an in-depth understanding of customer motivations and needs through wider insight programmes. A concept or an idea doesn’t have to be anywhere near ready to be tested - the more customers are allowed to give feedback on early stage ideas and development plans, the more they feel that their feedback truly impacts the company’s product and service development. Nothing is too small to not warrant asking customers for feedback about it.
Henry Ford’s classic statement applies perfectly to involving customers in product and service development: the car would never have been invented if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Involving customers in product and service development needs to be done deliberately and in a controlled manner during suitable stages of the product and service development. For example customers rarely directly provide valuable new ideas, so ideation should be done within the organisation with key partners, but still derived from customers’ behaviour, wishes, motivations and emotions.
The ideal moments to involve customers in the product and service development process are:
At the very beginning. A deep dive into customers everyday wishes and challenges and behavioural motivations provide a strong foundation for understanding customers’ true needs for the development of a specific product/ service. There are usually some customer insights already available, which can be validated and in addition gather further insights to strengthen the understanding.
It is important though, that the company and its product and service development partners are responsible for the ideas and creation of the concepts.
Testing and further development of concepts. It is important to involve customers in the process again when the initial descriptions of a product or service have been developed - to gather insight into customers’ first impression and thoughts of the product/ service as well as ideas for further development. Through the community you can efficiently refine the concept together with customers to one that works.
After this it is time to thank the customers and finish off the concept development internally or with partners.
Before the launch it is also a good time to invite the community to take part in the development. During the final evaluation of the concept there shouldn’t any more be big surprises that would stop the launch, but the insights from the community will help to define and refine relevant marketing arguments. The community is also an excellent platform for beta testing digital services.
Community members find it very interesting and enjoyable to be part of the different phases of the development of products and services (old and new). They feel that they are a part of an interesting journey. Based on insights gathered through the communities, community members feel that they get new ideas through the participation and feel that it helps bring them closer to the brand/ company behind the community.
For companies LeanLab enables lean and flexible development, an easy and seamless way to involve customers in the development as well as peace of mind. A direct and in-depth dialogue with customers has helped different parts of the organisation to find a common language - which at the same time is also the customers’ voice.