Product innovation is all about new ideas from both your employees and your customers. Trying to develop a new product without input from your customers is akin to shooting arrows in the dark. You may hit your target, but then again, you may miss it by a mile. Customer input provides you with insight into customer pain points, behaviors, and desires. All those factors figure prominently in determining why, when, and how to innovate.
Not to be overlooked, however, is the value of the input you receive from your employees regarding product innovation. Your employees can offer a unique perspective, poised as they are between organizational goals and customer encounters.
Successful product innovation strikes a balance between employee and customer input, aligning corporate strategy with customer demand.
Why and How to Get Employees Involved in Product Innovation
You can learn a lot about what your customers think of your current products and what they would like to see in future products by paying attention to what they say on social media. Your employees, however, are a different matter.
To get useful feedback from your employees, it’s important to build a culture of collaboration throughout your organization. Here are some tips to help you get the internal feedback you need for product innovation:
- Maintain an open-door policy. Ensure that managers and innovation teams are accessible to all employees.
- Clarify the need. If you want your employees to actively contribute to problem-solving and product innovation, clearly define the need within your organization. What are you aiming to achieve? The more clearly your employees understand the issue, the more likely they are to contribute to the solution.
- Be transparent about idea management. When your employees see that you have a system in place to gather, analyze, and potentially act on ideas created, they will likely become more engaged in the process.
- Be appreciative. When you find the intrapreneurs among your employees, show your appreciation of their enthusiasm and drive by providing opportunities for growth with your brand.
Why and How to Get Customers Involved in Product Innovation
In the Digital Age, the customer is in the driver’s seat for product innovation more than ever before in history. Savvy brands look to customer data to identify pain points, needs, and desires of customers on a granular level.
This is a good development, as it makes for better customer experience with your brand. However, it can also be a challenge, especially if you do not have a system in place to manage ideas.
Here are some pointers to involve customers in the product innovation process:
- Use tools for social listening and monitoring. Social media affords brands with an unprecedented depth of information about how customers feel about their products. Unvarnished comments on social media platforms reveal customer attitudes and behaviors.
- Use surveys and focus groups. Other tried and true methods of gathering customer feedback include surveys and focus groups. Once the linchpin of product innovation, these methods are still quite effective.
- Use online forums. Some brands have found success with using online forums to discuss potential future products, sometimes even going so far as to ask customers to vote on their preferences for those products. It is a good idea to keep online forums fresh and active, even when you are not in a product development cycle. Giving your customers a place to express their opinions can be a gold mine for your product innovation team to explore.
How an Idea Management Solution Facilitates Product Innovation
How can your organization gather, analyze, and sort through both internal and external feedback in the most efficient and effective way? The answer lies in idea management software.
Idea management software serves as a central repository of feedback and ideas from multiple parties, both internal and external. To see how idea management software works in action, request a demo today.