3 Strategies for Accelerating Successful Customer-Centric Innovation

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One thing companies have learned recently: no matter how long they’ve been in business, they won’t last much longer if they do not employ a customer-centric approach. As organizations emerge from the turbulence of the pandemic, the ones that will succeed are those that can understand exactly what their customers want, rapidly develop and deploy solutions that match those needs, and quickly analyze data to help them continually improve their products.

Here are three strategies these successful organizations will have in common.

Target your development process

A couple of years ago, every company’s new business model was whatever the old business model was with the word “beyond” added in. It wouldn’t have been unusual to hear a soft drink maker say, “We want to go beyond just making carbonated beverages!“ and turn themselves into a casual lifestyle brand.

In some cases, that’s perfectly appropriate, even good. In others, it’s a sign of an organization trying to do more for the sake of doing more and can lead to a flawed application development process. For example, your company may have a propensity to add more features to its applications just to keep up with your competition. But maybe that’s not what your customers want.

It’s better to take a streamlined approach to development. Start by building the features that matter most to your customers. Nine times out ten you’ll need to ship your application with some qualified assumptions about what your customers want. But don’t wait for the time it’ll take to perform massive amounts of pre-launch customer research, or you may find your team in analysis paralysis. Instead, focus on the priorities for a successful launch.

Analyze customer behaviors after you launch your app

Remember that no one ships a perfect application the first time, and you need to have a plan in place in case something goes left. Your plan should include time to make adjustments post-launch if necessary.

Those adjustments should come from performing ongoing customer analysis. Derive actionable insights from the way your customers are using your applications. For instance, what are their typical behavior patterns? Are there certain features they’re using more often than others, or particular actions they’re taking when they sign into your app? Are they spending a lot of time on the app but not converting?

This is where you want to spend the bulk of your research time–not prior to launch, but in the weeks and months after. Tag your application so you can monitor users’ behaviors while they’re using the solution. Use AI and machine learning to parse this information and provide you with actionable insights you can use to improve your solution.

If you can, go back and apply this analysis to the data you’ve collected over time–years, even. Use that information to determine buying behaviors based on past transactions. For instance, see which type of users are likely to abandon their shopping carts. Look for information in the data that can tell you how to provide those customers with a better experience that matches their needs so the next time they use your app they will complete the checkout process.

Encourage collaboration between CMOs and technologists

Doing all of this successfully will take a combined effort that leverages the talents and expertise of both developers and marketers. CMOs will need to own product innovation and proactively collaborate with engineering leaders to ensure their applications meet market demands.

This isn’t something that will happen naturally because it’s not natural. Marketing and development have traditionally kept to their own silos. And, as much as we like to extol the virtues of a collaborative culture, the fact is that culture can be a limiting factor. People who are used to working a certain way tend to resist change.

But marketers and developers have a common goal: to produce applications that customers want to use. Ideally, CMOs know what their customers want; therefore, it makes sense for them to closely align themselves with product development. Likewise, CTOs who want to create successful solutions that will make their CEOs happy would be wise to closely align with CMOs. They can glean knowledge from those CMOs to create applications that are market research-based and customer-driven.

Forging an alliance between marketing and development will pay off long after an application is launched. Continued collaboration throughout the lifecycle of the application will result in a solution that’s always designed to meet the needs of your customers.

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