In recent decades, we make products, launch new services, and create new processes on behalf of our customers, volunteering ourselves to create something they might need. Not bad, we put ourselves in customer’s shoes, a definite progress since the days of Henry Ford and his famous declaration “Any customer can have a car painted any colour so long as it is black.”
Since then, this paradigm is shifting big way, customers are now part of the effort that companies otherwise volunteered themselves to, … co-creation is the name of the game.
Simulated car racing game or a 4D roller costar is fun, but not as much as fun as driving down Great Ocean Road or experiencing Wipeout! Companies are constantly simulating consumer behavior to stay in competition, be it by predicting, doing a market research, trial and error or using a suggestion box. It is only a logical progression that we now have reached a stage to do co-creation with our customers; we are out on the road to get the real experience.
So simply put, instead of creating a product and then expecting that customers might like it, in co-creation you allow your customers to have a say or decide what you build, customers are on boarded well before the product starts taking shape or sometimes even before it is conceptualized.
So what does it take for companies to co-create?
- First and the foremost, companies need to start moving towards complete transparency. When you want to prove that your restaurant’s kitchen is clean, you can advertise that your kitchen is the cleanest, or get somebody to certify it … best way is to allow your customers to walk into your kitchen, if and when they wish. One needs to have an insight to provide any value inputs. In other words if you are not moving towards transparency, you are not moving towards co-creating.
- Find ways to encourage voluntary involvement from customers, employees, any stakeholders. Asking for a slogan for your product in return of holiday-for-two is not co-creation. If you need value input, it needs to be voluntary, it has to be spontaneous.
- Gear up your communication infrastructure and CRM to enable two way communications. The partners in co-creation need to come together physically, virtually, or in whatever way. Also your CRM should no longer aim only to sell more but also to bring back more on what customers are experiencing.
- Last but not the least, is preparing yourself on what you do with the inputs you get from your partners in co-creation. This is the tricky one; you might get all the first three steps right, but if you do not have a solid strategy to deal with the outcome of first three, you haven’t moved an inch.
When you co-create, you are actually going back to the fundamentals and going back to the fundamentals never hurt.