Digital is the age of customer empathy.
For most of organizations, innovation is still the serendipity, but being customer centric is the ultimate goals of those organizations, so how shall you base your new product innovation on known customer needs?
Focusing on customer needs should be an easier path to grow the innovation fruit: Shaping "customer desire" is a different task from shaping or understanding "need"; and making consumers believe their "want" is a "need" is a recipe for success. If you're going to innovate without knowledge of "evident customer needs" then "the things that you are good at may distract you to build something which can really increase customer value and help business success for the long term.
How to frame the right questions to get the best feedback from customers: It's tricky to find the right mix of open-ended questions to get feedback we wouldn't have thought about and more precise questions to actually get the customer to think of something he/she wouldn't have thought about. Shall you ask broader questions or shall you initiate more narrow questions, every company just has to take a good look at which information would be the most valuable to them and tailor their questions accordingly.
It is important to capture customer insight, not just getting information and understand it partially: The value of customer feedback is in transforming it from information to insight and using this to interpret customer needs. Sometimes we forget that customers are not that great at answering certain types of questions accurately, they don’t exactly know what they want until they see it, but they know what they dislike, or they can well articulate which features they expect from their perspective. Hence, it doesn't mean you shouldn't ask, just how you should interpret the results, and capture the insight based on the information you get carefully.
The mechanics of gamification works to facilitate customer interaction and collaboration more seamlessly: Because it gives people a measurable way to earn the respect of their peers. When you are engaged with customers and invite them to co-think and co-create the outcome depends on what, how and who is asked. A lot of companies claim they want to engage their customers, to make them more satisfied and increase interactions, but the hard part is getting everyone on board and have a methodology to do that. The gamification mechanics helps engage customers in more fun, but perhaps more effective way.
Always train to take a step back, put yourself in the customers shoes and think as they would like to have: When understanding customer needs; then you can look at the company’s technical capabilities. Innovation should come in the common area of technical competence, customer needs, and profitability. You might produce the most-sophisticated-in-the-market product, but no one needs and buys it... that will waste talent and resource of business. It will be easier to develop an innovative product in order to satisfy a need or shortcoming; rather than manipulating the whole environment and market so that you can define what the customer should need.
Customers can be very useful in providing feedback about future new products/services, helping improve current processes but, the true innovation in the product comes from allowing people free reign to try ideas, it requires a culture of cooperation and collaboration, of constant pushing of the boundaries as proposed in the discipline of innovation leaders. Innovation is a symphony which needs to be orchestrated via seamless synchronization and effortless collaboration.