Striking the balance on customer involvement

How can people tell you what they want if they haven’t seen it before? If we ask them what they want, we’ll end up doing Swan Lake every year!
— Mario D’Amico, senior VP of marketing at Cirque du Soleil

This week, we've been thinking a lot about how we learn from customers and develop and improve services and products.  Turns out our CEO, Philippa Jones, has too in penning her latest blog for Inside Housing titled 'It Is Important To Strike A Balance On Customer Involvement'

In her post, Philippa draws inspiration from Henry Ford and Coca-Cola to demonstrate the dangers of putting all your eggs in one basket when it comes to customer involvement, before going on to discuss how Bromford have changed their approach in order to build a better relationship based on trust.  

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Philippa mentions the infamous launch of “New Coke” where almost 200,000 blind taste tests were conducted before the launch of the new product. 

But New Coke was a disaster– costing the company millions. 

The research was flawed. A blind test in a lab type environment was out of context compared to the experience of , say, drinking a Coke on the way back from work.

What customers said was “yes, this tastes a lot nicer” but when the product hit the market they behaved entirely differently

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Philippa advocates a broad range of techniques to listen to customers - along with careful tests and pilots in a real world scenario.

At Bromford we are continually looking at how we maximise customer input where it really adds value.

For us it’s the feed into the problem definition – and then at every stage through iterative testing, pilot and subsequent release (or shelving).

It’s balanced by robust internal insight measures as well. As this graphic by Tom Hartland shows – even if a customer likes something doesn’t mean it’s good business sense.

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You can read Philippa's post here.