I’ve been spending a bit of time at the Chicago Auto Show. It’s a pretty spectacular affair of concept, design and ‘what’s next.’
Among other things, I was struck by the innovation. The innovation of what’s next requires a specific type of listening to customers. But how do you listen if you don’t have customers for the product you are about to launch? Some ideas:
1. Listen to customers of what’s close.
Cadillac showcased the ELR, which is how Cadillac “does electric.” Since they didn’t have Cadillac customers to listen to regarding the experience of having an electric car, they paid close attention to what the Volt customers had said about their experience. They listened to what they said, then they considered what would be most important to Cadillac customers.
2. Pay attention to the crowds.
Social media should not just inform you about your brand. Look at what customers are saying about what you want them to do with your product. Don’t search for brands, search for actions.
3. Empower your customer advocates.
There are people in your organization – front-line customer service reps, user interface designers, engineers – who want to do what’s right for the customer. They will do this by telling you what they think. Don’t suppress them with constant talk of cost-cutting or what doesn’t work. Let them dream. Let them be the voice of the customer without punishment.
Can you imagine what kind of products could be developed if we allowed this to happen? What was the last great product you loved? Did you know you needed it? Probably not before you had it. That doesn’t happen if you don’t allow listening in the best sort of ways.