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Product Development embedded in Customer Experience

Companies can no longer ignore the fact that the customer experience impacts every aspect of the organisation’s value chain spanning from research to product development, procurement, marketing, distribution and sales, and customer service.

We can all agree that increased engagements between customers and the business should lead to value-added product development, while improved product development in return, should lead to a better overall customer experience. The reality is that only true agile customer-centric organisations use insights from the customer experience across the customer’s journey to design more innovative products, helping the business to succeed.

A customer experience management (CEM) framework, in conjunction with a customer journey toolbox, can provide multiple lenses and layers of information that can be used to derive insights like behaviours, triggers, internal and external influences, and even emotional states that can be used to pioneer a new product.

CEM Framework based on design thinking

It is vital for organisations to understand the experience their customers encounter while using their products. This is a very important lens to apply because they need to see their products through the eyes and experience of their customers to ensure sustainable product innovation. These insights can lead to new ground-breaking solutions, but is often the most difficult to obtain. This is a more humanistic and all-inclusive approach to new product design.

Customers’ feedback relating to their experiences at each touch point, regardless of whether it is physical or digital, spanning the customer’s entire journey, should continuously be considered in an agile product development setting. Organisations must ensure they acquire and funnel all insights across the value chain, especially from customer services (the after-sales experience), back to product development, starting the chain all over again. This is the only way that organisations will be able to differentiate themselves.

Companies invest huge amounts in technology and systems to ensure they engage with their customers and get feedback in the pre-sales and sales phases, but often lack and don’t have the capability to get feedback in the after-sales phase.

Customer Journey Toolbox

That’s all good and well in a world where customers complain and articulate their feelings. The research has shown that only 1 out of 26 customers who are not happy with products or services complain and that 91% of non-complainers simply leave without saying anything.

By using a customer journey toolbox, companies will be able to identify their customers’ needs even before they are aware of these needs and unpack their customers’ perceptions and feelings towards existing product choices.

When companies reflect on all the aspects of the customer experience across the customer journey in their product development phase, they apply the essentials of design thinking. Design thinking disciplines require that you “carefully and insightfully understand the problem that you seek to solve”.


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