How To Co-Create Your Customer Experience: Sweat The Details

It’s Valentine’s Day, so shout it as loud as you can: “I love my customers!” Now, prove it by designing products, services, and experiences that actually meet their needs. How are you going to do that? By involving actual customers (as well as employees and partners) in the design process.

This collaborative activity, called co-creation, might ring a bell — two of my recent blog posts addressed what co-creation means and what the benefits are. Co-creation is a versatile and valuable methodology. And while it might seem effortless, it usually doesn’t happen on the fly — which is why Amelia Sizemore and I wrote our latest report, tackling the logistics behind planning a stress-free and productive co-creation workshop.

Newbies often assume that the workshop itself will be the most challenging part of a co-creation initiative, but most of the heavy lifting actually occurs before participants ever show up. Advanced preparation — and lots of it — ensures a smooth and productive workshop that feels like it runs itself. For example, you need to:

  • Hook participants with the right incentives. T. Rowe Price asked a lot of its participants — in addition to a full-day co-creation workshop, participants completed a 30-day diary study and a phone interview. In exchange, the company rewarded each person with an iPad.
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Why Should You Co-Create Your Customer Experience?

Despite professed customer centricity, many firms don’t think to involve customers, employees, or key partners in the experience design process. That’s unfortunate, because this activity — called co-creation — can help companies understand what types of interactions will best meet people’s needs and then figure out how to implement those interactions the right way.

Co-creation might sound familiar. Some people use the term to refer to Facebook ideation contents or crowdsourcing websites like mystarbucksidea.com. But in the experience design world, co-creation isn’t about soliciting hundreds or thousands of ideas through an online community. It’s the process of face-to-face active collaboration for the improvement and/or innovation of mutually beneficial products, services, or experiences. During co-creation workshops, teams focus on eliciting deep insights from participants — and translating those insights into tangible prototypes that can be evaluated in real time.

Co-creation is an extremely versatile tool, one that can inform the design of discrete touchpoints, complex customer journeys, emotionally resonant experiences, and just about anything else you can think of — even the employee experience. But pulling off an effective co-creation session requires extensive planning, preparation, and willingness to let a few customers behind the scenes.

So what’s the payoff? In our recent report, Amelia Sizemore and I outline several of the benefits co-creation provides, including:

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