Why Customer Collaboration Is The Key To A Strong Growth Strategy

When it comes to creating a sustainable and lasting growth strategy, there are plenty of ways you can go around it. But we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: your customers are crucial to your company’s success (and it’s not just about money). There are countless benefits to collaborating and co-creating with them.

As the saying goes, the customer is always right, and while you may question if this is always true, it’s always worth hearing their ideas and opinions. Collaboration and co-creation with your customers are great ways to uncover business insights, push products forward in new ways, or even develop a presence in an entirely new market.

So let’s dive a little deeper. 

What is Customer Collaboration?

Customer Collaboration (also known as co-creation or co-innovation) invites customers (and other stakeholders like employees) to find solutions to existing business problems and improve the overall experience. 

New product concepts, solutions to distribution chain issues, and technical solutions to complex manufacturing questions are examples of the results of customer collaboration.

Co-creation also includes a lot of lighthearted conversations, social listening, and building in public, such as musicians using Twitter to take album title suggestions from fans or football clubs seeking comments on their rebranding initiatives.

Co-creating with customers can result in some fantastic breakthroughs, so why not give it a shot?

Customer Collaboration can help to create trust and elevate your brand

Co-creation allows you to include diverse groups of people in your innovation process and growth strategy who otherwise would be excluded.

The process is also an effective technique to boost client loyalty and develop long-term relationships with key customers. Being open helps to build up trust and show the “human” side of your business. 

A customer who sees their suggestions taken seriously and even developed is now a part of the decision-making process. So they’re not simply a customer; they’re a true partner.

How to find the right customers for co-creation

To truly create a successful customer collaboration, you need to find the right customers to collaborate with. When building your team, you want to work with the best people and the ones that will come up with interesting, innovative ideas. The same goes for your clients. 

The type of customers you choose to work with depends on the kind of co-creation you’re hoping to achieve. If you’re simply looking for feedback, then crowdsourcing on social media or via your newsletter database is a great place to start. You can reach out to the people who used your products or services and talk to them directly.

But, if you’re looking for a more in-depth collaboration, you may need to look a bit harder. Your social media and client database are still great places to start, but you’ll need to define specific criteria to fit your project. 

Start by looking at the customers who are already engaging with your brand, whether it’s via social media comments, customer service requests, or feedback forms. These customers already have something to say about your brand, which is a great starting point for a collaboration.

Ways to use Customer Collaboration in your growth strategy

The more you acknowledge and value your customers’ contributions, the more enthusiastic they will be about your brand, and this excitement leads them to share their experience with your brand.

There are many ways to co-create with your customers, here are just a few: 

Communities

If you want to co-create with your customers rather than crowdsource, you’re probably already aware of the number one guideline of co-creation: you need to build and maintain a community.

Putting the ‘co’ in co-creation implies working together to develop new ideas. Communication must be two-way, and collaboration must be ongoing. 

Co-creation success is a long-term game, not a one-shot idea contest or a publicity stunt, and it requires a deliberate strategy to engage customers for continuous participation.

It also demands a strong feeling of community, technology that facilitates relationships, an atmosphere that encourages involvement, and a diverse range of activities to participate in.

Workshops

With remote work at an all-time high, designing and conducting a virtual collaboration workshop is the way to go. 

Start by defining the workshop’s purpose and goals, as well as its design. Then, consider how much time participants will need to become familiar with the digital tools they’ll be using in the workshop and encourage them to participate.

Increase the number of breaks to help break up the day and lower the number of people who drop in and out.

At the start of the session, establish expectations and ground rules. Keep instructions apparent, be clear about the amount of time each activity will take, and actively encourage participation.

After that, seek feedback from all participants.

Innovation challenges

Using your customers’ ideas for new products has a lot of benefits. You may also give your business an innovative image if you use an innovation contest as a format for customer co-creation. 

Customers have a different perspective on your organization than employees. That’s why they get more diverse ideas that might seem counterintuitive at first but can create a significant change in your growth strategy.

When you ask your customers for feedback on your innovation efforts, you build a trusting relationship. 

You lessen the chance of flops by asking the same group of people to develop ideas for new items or services that they wish to buy later. After all, clients who contributed to innovation development will want to purchase it.

Working with brand advocates

Working with brand advocates helps your company get attention while also providing insight into how others perceive and use your products.

Brand advocates help spread the word about your business and are crucial in establishing a positive online reputation.

A perfect example of this is how Notion reached out to Marie Poulin because she was all about their product. 

Marie assists ambitious company owners in creating space for growth in their lives and businesses. She enjoys educating others on how to use Notion to supercharge their productivity. It is one of her favorite tools for making your objectives visible and taking action on your ideas.

Marie has just under 30k YouTube subscribers (at the time of writing this blog). She hosts workshops and educates people on this platform on Notion’s tools.

Is Customer Collaboration worth it?

Customers, as well as all stakeholders, are included throughout the process in a co-creation approach. This real-time feedback avoids misunderstandings throughout development and guarantees that each project has a significant value proposition.

Co-creating with customers is good for the product, the customer, the company, and, ultimately, the bottom line.

How much effort it takes

Customer collaboration and implementing it in the growth strategy will definitely take quite a lot of time and effort, but it can reap powerful benefits for your business.

Getting co-creation right takes careful foresight and planning, as well as a deep knowledge of a brand’s customer base.

There’s no guarantee that ideas will succeed. But what you’ll always get out of it are great meetings of minds, new business insights, and exciting ideas that will point you in the correct direction. 

And there’s absolutely no time and effort wasted there.

The benefits

A well-designed co-creation process is the first step toward generating value throughout the business. Plus, co-creation improves consumer satisfaction by allowing your customers to feel connected and valued in the initiatives of their favorite brand: yours.

Here are five clear ways that your business stands to gain value from co-creating with your customers: 

  1. Improved products based on consumer feedback
  2. Improved financial performance 
  3. Accelerating innovation with unexpected and new ideas
  4. Breaking down barriers between industries
  5. Making the consumer part of the creation process – essentially increasing your workforce without adding to payroll

Four steps of successful co-creation

Are you ready to go on a journey of co-creation? You should be aware of a few steps to co-creation to keep things simple. 

Step one: Objectives

You should define clear objectives within your growth strategy for the co-creation process. 

If you don’t know your goals, you won’t clearly convey them.

Step two: Participants

Figure out who you want to be a part of the project. For example, is your project more appropriate for a group of experts? Or would crowdsourcing be a better method to collaborate with your customers on a project?

Completing step one and fully outlining your goals is part of determining who you want as participants. Then, start by creating a feedback loop and ensuring that your customers know that they are heard.

Step three: The work

This step involves the actual process of gathering feedback, ideas, and suggestions from participants and reviewing and analyzing them for insights. This is the core of your collaboration process. 

Step four: Implementation

Now that you have all the necessary information, you can implement it into your growth strategy (or develop it from scratch). This could include actual design and product development, running experiments to identify what’s working and what’s not, and making decisions on moving forward. 

Customer Collaboration benefits you and your customers

Businesses need to look beyond their four walls to truly innovate. Co-creation with your customers is a great way to get external input on how to improve your business. 

Of course, a co-creation strategy requires a high level of planning and coordination. Setting clear goals and basing your growth strategy on those goals is an excellent way to ensure that you’ll make the most of the co-creation process.