Customer value is a buzzword. It is used so often in a sense that is empty of meaning. Yet failure of reaching added customer value is constantly killing innovations.
Many talented people disregard customer value because of technology approach, market trend, or just rush of getting things done that forbids wise action.
Customer value is the most critical thing driving innovation. Sure you have to be able to build it, ship it and sell it, but on the long term if the value is not worth more than what the customer paid for you might get a single sale but not a lasting customer relationship.
So what’s the fuzz with customer value? The importance of finding all the pieces of the puzzle before going to production is important. And remember that finding does not necessarily equal to understanding. Many managers fail to appreciate the potential and importance of the magic of customer empathy skills that some of the best innovators have. They see, feel and understand the relevant value factors and they do it repeatedly. Unfortunatedly there are managers, I think we all have met them, who seem to think of this as an extra bother. “Oh, it’s Jack again coming with his ideas and improvements.” They do not see past the fuzz or realize the need to align and support the exitement and energy that could be put to yet another great widget or upgrade. At that stage they do not have any facts to prove that their customers would need, want or pay for such things. In this case they also might not have the motivation to push forwards testing the idea before it could have even the slightest chance to prove it’s customer value in the process. The challenge in such situation is that managers do not have the necessary understanding or tools to put this energy and exitement to the benefit of the company. And while not having that lever to pull, they think they cannot act for the benefit of the company.
Customer need is a fuzzy thing at first, until it is proven by real data. Innovators already know this and act accordingly in the creative mindset. Innovation managers need to find their ways to lead their team and organisation over the buzz – and start managing the fuzz of customer centric innovation.