The 1 Thing You Should Be Doing to Improve Customer Experience Right Now


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CoCreation Lab from AEMG
With the explosion of mobile and digital technology, the balance of brand power today has shifted to consumers, who are now empowered to write, post, snap and share their experiences anywhere and at any time – in real-time – simply by whipping out a smart phone or tablet.

This tech phenomenon has turned millions of us into restaurant critics, travel journalists, product reviewers and consumer activists – sometimes all at once. Without a doubt, it’s now the customer’s world.

Brands are just living in it.

And to have a chance at living well, every company has been forced to recognize what industry leaders saw long ago: great customer experience is absolutely critical to brand sustainability and loyalty – especially now.

However, despite that realization, many organizations are struggling to stay ahead of the CX curve. They’re scrambling to realign and retrain staff. They’re busy mapping customer journeys. And they’re furiously researching customer personas. But the question remains: Is that enough?

The answer is no.

Because to truly improve customer experience, there’s one thing that the vast majority of brands aren’t doing, which not coincidentally is also the one thing that they should. In order to become an actual customer experience leader, brands must double down on consumer power and give their customers ownership.

And the one way to do that is through CoCreation.

So, what the heck is CoCreation?

For those unfamiliar, CoCreation is when brands and consumers – both customers and non-customers alike – come together with the purpose of designing new products, new services and new experiences, hand in hand.

By uniting consumers and employees, CoCreation embodies genuine engagement and partnership, which is something that so many brands talk about, but so few actually achieve.

And with all that in mind, you might be wondering, what are some examples of brands succeeding with CoCreation today? Let’s look at three doing the one thing they should to improve customer experience.

CoCreator #1: Domino’s Pizza

In one of the more surprising brand stories in recent years, Domino’s continues to look more like a tech company than a pizza company.

And earlier this year, such innovative thinking led the brand to launch its “Pizza Mogul” campaign, a CoCreation initiative that enabled consumers to not only design pizzas for the Domino’s menu and share them on social networks, but to actually get paid each time a customer ordered their pie.

A smashing success, Pizza Mogul was recognized as a key driver for Domino’s strong first-half financial report in 2015.

CoCreator #2: J.Crew

Always up on the latest trends, fashion retailer J.Crew tapped into CoCreation in 2015 as a new avenue to engage consumers and improve customer experience.

Most interestingly, the brand utilized CoCreation in a particularly unique way, as it leveraged the design eye of a four-year-old girl and worked with her to create an entire line of childrens’ clothing together.

The Little Mayhem collection debuted through J.Crew this past summer, showing that CoCreation truly knows no age and can even come from customers that brands might least expect.

CoCreator #3: Network Health

In 2013, Network Health’s CoCreate Wisconsin Movement traveled more than 4,000 miles around the Badger State in order to chat with Millennial and Baby Boomer consumers about health insurance.

After listening to both customers and non-customers describe how they would design new health insurance products, services and experiences, Network Health proceeded to invite these individuals inside the walls of its organization to work hand-in-hand with their employees.

The resulting CoCreation effort helped launch a new market, improved both digital and mobile health customer experiences, and boosted Network Health’s online community by 400 percent, providing a powerful example of the impact that CoCreation can have on a mid-sized brand.

What are the must-haves for CoCreation?

For brands considering CoCreation, it’s important to understand the requirements.

First off, CoCreation requires vulnerability and a willingness to go out into the market to hear the good, the bad and maybe even the ugly about your company and your industry. It also requires you to not just hear consumers, but actually listen to them.

CoCreation requires you to then invite customers and non-customers inside your organization and to empower your employees to work hand-in-hand with them to design new products, services and experiences. Additionally, it requires you to set expectations and communicate clearly and consistently to your employees and external consumers.

And, ultimately, what CoCreation requires is that your brand commits to actually doing something, and not simply talking about doing something.

From listening to expectations to partnership to communication to commitment, these are the elements that make any relationship – personal or business – a healthy one. The same applies to CoCreation. And while it and its requirements might at first seem frightening for your brand, consider that Seth Godin once said, “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”

CoCreation isn’t just a good thing, it’s the one thing you should try if you want your brand to truly improve its customer experience.

Photo provided by CoCreation Lab Series.

Brian Walker, CEO
Brian Walker is the Chief Executive Officer of AE Marketing Group and host of the award-winning Brand Lab Series™ Podcast with today’s most innovative brands, including Bosch, Deloitte, IBM, RXBAR®, Accenture, and P&G.Recognized by Inc., Forbes, Branding Magazine, Ad Age, The American Marketing Association. Modern Healthcare, and more, Brian helps executives build brands beyond traditional advertising to improve customer experience, product development, and revenue.


  1. Co-creation can, indeed, be a powerful tool for optimizing customer experience. Companies like John Deere have, for example, used co-creation for decades to help design their farm, golf course, and home use equipment. And, agree that customer-employee partnership, vulnerability (which, I’d submit, is a component of relationship and trust-building) and customer insight generation are important ingredients in co-creation.

    On a macro level, it strikes me that all of these concepts and applications, what you describe as “From listening to expectations to partnership to communication to commitment…” are drivers of a customer-centric culture and array of processes. Where customer-centricity and value provision are enterprise priorities, co-creation and innovation can flourish.

  2. TY for comment Michael. Interestingly enough I had opportunity to hear some of the CX experience team at John Deere share their success in US and South America – really interesting.

    You are absolutely correct that without an operationalized brand commitment to both employee empowerment/engagement and customer experience its hard to do anything truly innovative. Many organizations don’t. but should do CoCreation. Often result of not having a real customer-centric culture or are early in their CX journey.

    On a side note, I enjoy your content here and online. Have a good week. BW

  3. Excellent article, Brian. Neatly explained. Listening to your customers, and then collaborating with them, are certainly the two most crucial aspects of cocreation. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at


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