QFD for product & business development

Driving Customer Centered Innovation

Driving Customer Centered Innovation

Set yourself apart from competitors by seeing the world through your customers’ eyes. Focus on finding the right metrics, developing an integrated approach, creating a thorough understanding of the customer, and generating strategic investments that can reap real rewards.

   That sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But when you do it right it all pays off. Innovators build loyalty, command price premiums, and increase retention.

   A clear understanding of the customer is absolutely crucial to growth. Customers are bombarded with more and more options every day. They do not hesitate to walk away from products that fail to meet their expectations. The best companies are focused on customers to drive sustainable growth — tailoring offerings to customers’ unique needs.

   Innovation, beyond technologies and products, must be customer centered to ensure sustainable competitive outcomes. This is easier said than done for many companies. Most organizations are entrenched, having long ago optimized around functional disciplines and rigid processes. But you can change this.

   Intelligent ways to integrate customer insights in design and development are always a challenge. This intelligence can be developed through a well-defined systematic approach using dedicated tools. The best techniques and tools to use are QFD (Quality Function Deployment) and VoC (Voice of the Customer), proven from decades of industry learning and refinement.

   Consequently, any successful strategy requires leaders to break the rigid structure around functional disciplines and usher in a new era of flexibility and agility. Customer-centered innovation is about integration, alignment, and collaboration. Today customer insights are more relevant than ever before to strategy, communication, developments, and operations. The entire organization must be optimized around customers’ needs. As a result products, services, and solutions evolve, just as the customer does.

   Customer-centered innovation organizes everyone within a company around central ideas of customer needs. Review this 10 step roadmap that outlines innovation points in the product lifecycle.

Define the focus customer segmentDefine the focus customer segment – the key to success is knowing who the primary customer is and the steps to optimize value for them. First decide what customer group is the most important to be served.

Analyze the customer’s problemAnalyze the customer’s problem – get into the shoes of your customers and look through their eyes to understand what they do and how you can help them.

Discover real customer needs Discover real customer needs – in series of qualitative analysis and creative sessions define customer needs beyond a “wish list.” Success is dependent on your ability to create products and services that address unmet customer needs.

Define the value propositionDefine the value proposition – focus on the customer experience not just products and services. That is the value proposition.

Define the market sizeDefine the market size – look at the specific market-customer group you are targeting. Remember sizing a market from a product perspective doesn’t always work because products come and go. Look carefully at relevant emotions and feelings exhibited by your customers.

Competitive intelligenceCompetitive intelligence – customers will judge your offer based on competitors. Companies must know what the solutions in a market are, how those are offered, and what customer perceptions about quality and attractiveness are. Beat your competitors by focusing on the total value proposition not products.

New business and earning modelsNew business and earning models – consider modernizing your business model by shifting focus from product to services. For example Zipcar exercises a unique service model in a product driven industry.

Define the solutionDefine the solution – complete the value chain by working with marketing to clearly articulate your value.

Evaluate organizational risksEvaluate organizational risks – as a part of the new business plan: technology, business, and financial risks are evaluated and aligned with strategically relevant objectives and investment plans.

Align new solution with existing businessAlign new solution with existing business – integrate your new solution into your existing portfolio. Communicate its value to the very core of the business.

   Use these 10 steps and put yourself in your customer’s shoes to drive new and powerful innovation in your company.

   To have more in-depth discussion how to implement the customer-centered innovation journey, please contact QFD Europe.

Written by:
Biba Visnjicki

Biba Visnjicki

   Over the last decade Biba has supported companies world-wide in business development and innovation projects. Biba Visnjicki started her professional career in Serbia as a product and business developer. In 1998 she become regional Managing Director of Mobile Oil for the former Yugoslavia region. After finishing her PhD studies she has focused on developing her competencies and skills in the domains of strategy...
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