I’ve been working in the area of Customer Services, CRM/BPM/Multi Channel Interaction Management for 15 years now. One of the most important understandings I get from my experiences in different roles in B2B and B2C environments, is that no one Customer is the same. Every single Customer has its own drivers to work with you, buy from you, collaborate with you and spend time with you. Customer needs, wants and desires are different because every one Customer comes from a different background, has a different set of values, beliefs, goals in life, challenges and jobs to be done.
Specifically from my background at Center Parcs I learned that the Customer Experience cannot be generic. Experiences, by definition are personal. You can have ten people watch the same sports-game and each individual will have had a different experience. There will be something of a shared experience, which will contribute to the personal experience, yet the experience, from the individual point of view, remains a personal one.
For me, this is an important understanding. It means that we will always fail to design or create the experience as we see it ourselves. From this understanding I derive the understanding that it is best for companies to allow Customers to design their own experiences rather than pre-define in all detail the experience Customers should have with their products or services. Designing products, services and experiences with Customers will improve them, but it will never beat empowering Customers to personalize the experiences themselves.
More recently I have been introduced to the theory of Customer Jobs and Value Co-creation. A simplistic example (but a great one to start understanding the concept) of Customer Jobs is that people are not seeking for a drill, but need to get a hole in wall. When you think of making a hole in the wall and all the things one needs to do, before this hole is in the wall, one should have a completely different picture of what a drill should look like and how it, in the entire experience of getting the job done, should enable, take away obstacles or facilitate this job.
Value Co-creation, on the other hand, has numerous different shades and is rather a concept at this point in time than a well rounded theory with substantial academic evidence to support it. Nevertheless I believe co-creation of value is THE way of thinking for the future. You can read this article by Graham Hill as to how come. I also like this great visual presentation (power point) of the different Styles of Value Co-creation by Chris Lawer, from Strategyn. You can read the full article that contains the presentation here.
Both articles have a lot in common and some major differences. Also both do not provide a short, one sentence explanation, or definition if you prefer, of Value Co-creation. Therefore I decided to give it a try myself. Basically because I have a personal need to better grasp the concept of value co-creation and furthermore because I feel the need to be able to explain it in as few words as possible to anyone who is newly introduced to the concept. So here it is:
Value is Co-created with Customers if and when a Customer is able to personalize his Experiences through a product or service – in the lifetime of its use – to a level that is best suited to get his job(s) done.
And now I invite you to shoot it in a thousand pieces, rephrase, scramble the words, their sequence or whatever else you can think of to get the best possible definition (for now ;-). This is not my definition, in the spirit of co-creation, at the end, and whatever the result, it could be ours.
Also, do not hesitate to ask any questions you might have! I’m convinced we’ll get the answers out here together, in the spirit of co-creation.
Thanks in advance!