By Kai Hellstrom, Lead Product Manager, GlobalX
In order for a business to thrive, they must be able to their hold of their competitors by providing a real difference to their customers. This can be achieved by providing better customer service, cost savings, or what most companies pursue new and innovative new products.
While all companies strive for innovation, it is often seen as this alluring almost unobtainable achievement that only tech disrupters and entrepreneurs can tap into. It’s a mix of creativity, experience and that je ne sais quoi. This isn’t true.
The type of innovation everyone focusses on is that big new idea, that era-defining creation like the iPhone or the electric car that propels them to global status. It’s the radical or disruptive innovations that grab the headlines, but there are other types of innovation such incremental which can make a difference but are often overlooked.
How do you discover that next big product?
A lot of companies rely on expensive and times consuming survey to get some sort of insight into what matters to their target market while sitting on a rich vein of real-time and reliable data. Your client managers, your helpdesk, even accounts often have the greatest insight into what the current market trends and opportunities are.
When a customer is frustrated, as things don’t work as they expected, or you don’t offer exactly what they want, this should be seen as an opportunity. Problems lead to products.
The closer you are to your clients; the better customer service you provide, the more significant insights you can derive. These insights often get overlooked as there is a detachment between product, marketing, sales and customer. Each works in their silo and responsible for there area of business. While this helps with running an efficient and productive operation, it can also stifle innovation and cross-pollution of ideas. Innovation shouldn’t belong just to marketing. It should belong to everyone.
To release the untapped potential of the customer service team to bring valuable insights to the surface, you need to ingrain innovation into our business values as an everyday thought. Emblazoned across our lobby is the statement ‘Think like a customer‘ and that applies to everyone.
We work mainly with law firms, providing them with specialist property and company data. One of our clients was frustrated that they had spent most of the day on hold calling companies court to obtain information on whether a winding-up search had been lodged against a company. It was an off the cuff conversation between a client manager and a close customer, an apology for not getting back to them quickly. That little remark though sparked an idea that led to something big. Simply by replacing an outdated process with a more streamlined and customer-centric approach, we had created a new million-pound revenue stream.
It wasn’t the first and hasn’t been the last time we’ve used real customer feedback to create and launch new products. It’s a strategy that has helped us stay in business for over 30 years despite growing competition, greater access to information, and rapidly changing regulation.
If you’re looking for your next big innovation to take your business to the next level, stop looking to business gurus and idols for ideas and instead speak with your colleagues. You might be surprised what insights are there waiting to be revealed.