Design by Loyalists

Over the Fourth of July weekend, my wife and I headed to the wilds of Idaho to spend some time in the rivers and wilderness around Yellowstone National Park. While there, I noticed a change that my brother-in-law and grandmother had made to the canoes that we were using. Instead of the old, wicker style seats that had previously adorned the canoes (these seats had disintegrated), they had replaced the seats with a simple weaved, but stronger nylon cord design. When I came back in contact with the Internet, I looked up the canoe company and noticed they had made a similar change to their canoes in their more recent models (though other companies still sported the wicker: see image). Which got me thinking if they had made this improvement by luck or because of customer feedback.

Many companies have issues with one or a few aspects of their product or service that their most loyal customers have found some way around in order to have a more positive customer experience. In order to have the best experience for all customers, these customer-created innovations need to be either gathered and added in newer editions, or, in more innovative models, implemented directly by customers (this represents the most exciting and effective area for consumer involvement). I am not talking about special discoveries that are only available to your most active customers (these act as a reward for involvement with your brand), but simple steps to create a more accessible experience with your core offering.

For more information, it is worth looking at the “feeds” discussions in the service innovation study that I worked on with Wolff Olins last year (see Wolff Olins research page and rights reserved).

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