How Insight Communities Accelerate The Innovation Cycle

The following is a guest post by our partner Vision Critical.

Every smart innovator knows that the customer’s point of view is indispensable. The challenge, is to find customers with the most valuable feedback and to integrate that feedback at the speed of business into every stage of the innovation cycle.

That challenge is even more intimidating when customers who are impatient for new and better products are all-too-willing to abandon you for a new competitor. Regardless of your industry, the ability to innovate faster while de-risking decision making is now a mission critical competency. Unlike traditional survey and in-person focus groups, insight communities are an ideal solution for this time-sensitive, high-pressure scenario.  

With 17 million customers and 6,000 employees worldwide, GoDaddy, the world’s leading domain registrar and web hosting company is continually looking for new products and features that they can rely on to maintain their top spot. Their development teams recognize that speed is the key to ongoing success, so they work in 3-week development sprints — a pace that creates an insatiable appetite for timely customer insight. The challenge for GoDaddy is that traditional research methods can take upwards of five weeks to merely launch a survey, never mind the additional time it takes to field and analyze responses.

To help accelerate their innovation cycle, GoDaddy complements their traditional insight gathering methods with an insight community called the GoDaddy Customer Council. Their insight community delivers actionable insight in as little as three days, which makes it easy for the UX and development teams to get the feedback they need, to accelerate the company’s product development and go-to-market strategy.

Companies like Apple and LinkedIn also frequently release updates, security patches and bug fixes. Software is understood to be forever incomplete—and that’s a good thing. In Eric Ries’ highly influential book, The Lean Startup, he describes how an “agile” innovation model makes it possible for even small organizations to create products with the potential to transform the world.

Agile insight is only possible when you have customer intelligence you can trust. It’s not enough to know that your customers love or hate a new product. To innovate with speed and confidence, you need to understand the “why” behind your customer’s’ choices and reactions. And you need to integrate that actionable intelligence into every stage of the innovation cycle.

To bring authentic customer intelligence into ideation, journey mapping and other parts of the cycle, you need to make a few changes.

  • First, you need to recognize the limitations of your current sources of intelligence. Are they too slow? Too expensive? Only providing static, point-in-time data? Are they too much work for limited reward?
  • Once you’ve recognized those limitations and acted to get the timely, quality customer feedback you need, you’ll be on your way to accelerating the innovation cycle and creating products that win.

Learning why customers want what they want through an ongoing, two-way dialogue is the best way to give innovators the support they need to make the important and daunting decisions that bring ideas from concept through to successful implementation.

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[RELATED CONTENT: How to Use Customer Intelligence for Product-Market Fit]

Let’s look at DEWALT for another example of how agile, ongoing customer insight can accelerate the product development cycle.

DEWALT is a leading maker of durable, high-quality tools that professional construction workers and contractors depend on to complete their work reliably, efficiently and safely. The company has a demanding customer base that requires high-quality products to remain competitive themselves. As a major, established toolmaker, DEWALT has an ocean of data about what sells and what doesn’t.

To get feedback from customers, the company primarily used to visit construction sites and interview workers who used its products — a time intensive and expensive process that is difficult if not impossible to scale.

To get insight more quickly and efficiently, and to stay at the top of its game as a maker of reliable, professional-grade tools, DEWALT launched an insight community of more than 10,000 end users of its tools, including 6,000 professional tradesmen. The success of DEWALT’s Insights Panel — with its large group of dedicated customers enthusiastic about giving the company feedback — the brand is able to run up to seven community activities a week.

In a few short years, the company has received from its insight community more than 600 suggestions for innovations, many of which have influenced the company’s product line. The company uses the community to test packaging, product marketing and new product ideas.

As innovation timelines continue to accelerate, the pressure on product developers and the insight professionals they rely on is also intensifying. Most traditional survey tactics are simply too slow to meet the increasing demand. Moreover, conventional tactics like focus and test groups, while valuable are simply not scalable.

What makes an insight community a compelling proposition is the ability to engage a carefully segmented audience rapidly and repeatedly overtime to uncover insight that product innovators can use to iterate on existing ideas, test assumptions and validate new ideas early in the innovation cycle so they can improve their odds of launching a winning product.    

About Vision Critical:

Vision Critical provides customer relationship intelligence software that improves customer relationships to grow customer lifetime value. Designed for today’s always-on, social and mobile savvy customer, Vision Critical’s technology helps large, customer-centric enterprises discover what their customers want so they can deliver what they need. Unlike traditional customer research, which is slow, expensive and gathers dust on a shelf, Vision Critical’s customer intelligence platform replaces static data and cumbersome reports with real-time actionable customer intelligence that companies need to build better products, deliver better services and achieve better business outcomes. www.visioncritical.com

For more insight into how to leverage customer intelligence as part of your product feedback process, download this free handbook: How to Use Customer Intelligence for Product-Market Fit

How to Use Customer Intelligence for Product-Market Fit [Handbook]

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