Manufacturers have the burden of creating better products and developing new ideas to keep their products selling. One cannot expect the same product to keep selling consistently without improvements. Finding the right inspiration to make products more attractive and relevant in the marketplace is not especially difficult. In fact, it is the people buying the product who can serve as the greatest inspiration of all.
Your Customer, Your Muse
The old adage “the customer is always right” may not always seem accurate; however, when it comes to evolving your line of products, relying on what your customers are saying and doing is critical to innovation. Those already buying your products are essentially the experts for what needs to come next.
Here are some tips to help you effectively collect and utilize customer feedback:
- Change Your Perspective on Consumers – Many companies write off their customers as just that – buyers of a product. They fail to capitalize on the benefits of perceiving their customers as co-creators of a product. When given the chance, consumers will happily fill you in on what they like and don’t like about a product. Feeling appreciated for sharing an opinion on a product can go a long way toward customer loyalty. Be open to accepting the good and the bad feedback customers are willing to give by thinking of them as part of the overall product design team and not just shoppers. A study by Eric von Hippel from MIT showed out of 1,193 successful commercial innovations in nine different industries, 60% (737) were born from consumer input.
- Use the Internet for Good – The available Internet technology of today seems endless. If you are only using it to generate sales, you are limiting your chance of evolution success. Create forums and communities where consumers can openly discuss your products, suggest fixes for problems, and brainstorm new features or ideas. The input provided to other companies welcoming this concept is remarkable. Coors Light, the well-known beer company, encouraged consumer participation in their advertising campaigns to great success. The toy manufacturer Lego permitted programmers not working for their company to generate code for controlling a toy robot. This experiment led to the development of activity ideas the company did not previously consider.
- Don’t Listen to Steve Jobs – Apple’s Steve Jobs famously once said “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. Of course Apple continues to excel at innovation but for the companies not manufacturing such revered products like the iPhone, make no mistake – people DO know what they want. It is actual product buyers which have a huge impact on the market these days. Consider what a good (or bad review) on Amazon can do. Real customers are more credible to other buyers than the company making money from the product sales. By finding new ways to include customers in the evolution process, you’ll likely score a wealth of quality feedback.
- Neglecting Customer Service Is Bad for Business – Social media has changed the rules as far as customer service is concerned. Consumers expectations have evolved thanks to the power of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Angry customers are not afraid to tweet about a bad experience and satisfied customers are just as anxious to comment on a Facebook post. Consumers now expect some kind of intervention or reaction from a company once their point, whether positive or negative, has been made. Ignoring this type of feedback is bad for business on two accounts. First, you miss out on valuable feedback about specific products. Second, you miss out on an opportunity to show your business as a reputable one – a business that cares about its customers.
Customers are the core of your business and taking the time to listen to what people who actually buy and use your products or services can make a giant difference in your bottom line. Focus on what your customers are doing and saying to effectively evolve your product. Ask and interact with the people who matter most through social media, through your website, and in person to improve upon the things they already love.
If you’d like to improve your internal practices in order to provide better customer service and a more efficient experience for employees of your warehouse – contact NSA. We can show you how an ERP upgrade can improve your bottom line.