Build it Together: Co-creating with Your Customers to Produce Value

Posted on April 14, 2017

Savvy businesses know that it’s their customers who are in control; whether it’s a new brand positioning and communications strategy or a new product launch, customers decide if it will be successful.

Yet many only pay lip service to being “customer centric” because the fact is, it’s hard work. And it’s a little scary. That’s why co-creation – a process where businesses and customers, led by a facilitator, work together to create better ideas, products and services – it is the best of both worlds. The client team is still in the driver’s seat, but their customers are riding shotgun.

C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy introduced the concept in their 2000 Harvard Business Review article, “Co-Opting Customer Competence.” Getting the in-depth understanding necessary to help solve bigger business questions and create new value requires a candid discussion between the business and the customer; truths you may never get to in a traditional qualitative research, have to be uncovered.

Companies like DHL, P&G, Starbucks, Lego, and Ikea have all developed robust, sustainable co-creation processes. According to Forbes, “DHL’s co-creation efforts resulted in customer satisfaction rising to over 80 percent, on-time delivery performance increasing to 97 percent and decreasing customer churn.” They also co-create some really cool product and service ideas. One of the many ideas that came from a co-creation workshop with DHL is the “Parcelcopter” drone delivery service. Standard mail-delivery takes thirty minutes; in tests, the Parcelcopter took only eight.

What produces exciting results like these? In our experience: interaction!

During Marketry’s co-creation sessions, the business team is an active participant in the process, working collaboratively with their customers to:

  • build on their knowledge through direct dialogue,
  • deepen their understanding of the customer’s standpoint by discussing hot topics and sensitive issues in actively facilitated sessions,
  • problem-solve with creative projective exercises, and
  • develop conceptual ideas that authentically connect with their customers

Business and creative teams are no longer separated from the energy of their customers in a focus group room, and longer sessions allow for in-depth probing and application of visioning and problem solving techniques.

The sessions are grounded in sound research techniques and creative ideation principals – a key component of moving deeper into strategic possibilities. Customers are pre-interviewed and hand-picked based upon certain characteristics. Typically, they complete homework assignments prior to the session. Meanwhile, the business team members are provided with training in qualitative techniques including effective listening skills in order to maximize their abilities in the session.

The co-creative process is all about creating a safe space where everyone can add value. Discovering and collaborating together is inspiring and can truly change an organization. It often results in fully-aligned, highly motivated business team that is ready to implement “their” creation.

Learn more about Marketry’s co-creation process, Fusion Sessions, here.