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Five Ways CCOs Can Save Innovation

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Innovation failure rates are abysmal, ranging from 60-96%. The most successful innovations directly involve customers in the articulation, design, implementation, testing, and launch. Customer centric innovation the development of value through solutions that meet real customer needs in new ways. This can include different or more effective products, services, processes, technologies, ideas, and even business models. Here are five ways for chief customer officers to focus innovation on customers:

1. Take ownership of innovation at the highest level

Innovation is about risk, and only executives can take the kinds of risks required for truly transformative innovations that yield the highest ROI and form the strongest competitive advantage.

2. Focus innovation on real customer needs

What matters most to customers AND the business? Customer executives need to clearly set the opportunity bar and make transparent the scale and source of growth opportunities.

3. Form powerful alliances with both early and late-stage internal innovators

Early-stage innovators need to understand customer behavior and needs. Late-stage innovators need access to customers to validate product ideas. CCOs should share ideas borne from countless hours listening to, measuring, and analyzing customer needs, wants, and desires.

4. Create conduits to customers to enhance innovation efforts

The CCO is uniquely qualified to identify customers with whom the company has strong, stable relationships; whose needs are relevant to the innovations in development; and who are most likely to provide candid insights and direction for those innovations.

5. Inject the customer into the innovation processes, including the innovation reviews, stage gates, and funding decisions

Critical decisions are too often made in a customer vacuum. CCOs need to define customer centric valuation metrics as innovation success criteria. The metrics and the levels of customer involvement should be dependent upon the investment and most especially upon the customer impact upon launch.

Any innovation strategy that does not include customer participation deserves to fail. CCOs are uniquely positioned to incorporate customers into the innovation process and to do so in the earliest stages. Resources can be used more wisely in bringing greater value to customers And ultimately, the company realizes a much higher ROI on its innovation efforts.

What are some of the ways your company engages customers in its innovation processes?

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Categories: Chief Customer Officer | Customer Centricity | Customer Insight