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After taking a class on macroeconomics recently, I’ve taken to reading books on the subject in my leisure time. (Yes, I know I’m a nerd.)
A recent book review in Toronto’s “The Globe and Mail” inspired me to download a new book to my eReader on fiat currencies (paper money). The book reviewer had published an interesting quote from the book and detailed the German author’s experience in the London financial markets. I was especially interested in learning more about the 2008 housing collapse, as the review indicated.
It’s really lucky that my eReader has a fast-link dictionary built in. Besides the financial jargon, the author often used words with more than 12 characters strung into complex sentences. Many sentences lasted the length of a typical paragraph and spread half of a page. Several times in each chapter, the author began to explain a concept (for example, fractional-reserve banking) and dropped a trailer – “We’ll discuss this topic in more detail in a later chapter.”
By the time I had slogged through to Chapter 8, I began to wonder when “later” was. I finally encountered The Globe and Mail reviewer’s quote on page 274, just two pages before the book concluded. I also wondered whether the book reviewer had actually read the book since I never came across a section giving insight into the housing bubble as he had promised in the newspaper.
Of course, when I got bored with this difficult economics book, I could easily flip to a mystery, a novel, or other book on my eReader, which provides a user-friendly platform, or architecture.
You are probably wondering, “What do economics and eReaders have to do with innovation?” Actually, quite a lot. Especially if you are interested in customer satisfaction and engagement.
Lately, New Product Development Professionals (NPDP) have been hearing a lot about “co-creation,” also known as “co-development” and “open innovation.” Co-creation relies heavily on web-based customer engagement platforms. For example, the architecture of my eReader makes the reading experience convenient, engaging, and enjoyable.
The lesson is that anybody can write a book today. The book may claim to explain the housing crisis and be convenient to read. But, the message was obscured by the poor content. Likewise, a firm can post a web site or Facebook page with the worthy goal to improve customer engagement. Just like the eReader, web sites and Facebook pages are convenient and easy to use. But poor content can obscure the message despite an easy-to-use architecture.
Yet for a firm to be truly co-developing and engaged with their customers, they must conduct a discussion and have a dialogue with the users of their products.
Let’s look at another example. I have “liked” two local bagel shops on Facebook. Both shops serve bagels, muffins, soups, salads, and gourmet coffee drinks. One of the shops posts photos of new sandwich creations almost every day and asks their Facebook fans to post their favorite sandwich recipes in response. Other days they post information about the fresh ingredients in their soups and about the healthy grains used in their breads and bagels.
In contrast, the other bagel shop posts a weekly coupon for $1.00 off of a sandwich combo every Tuesday between 3 and 5 pm.
I’ll leave it to you to guess which shop is more engaged with their customers. You can probably figure out which shop will incorporate bell peppers (the Facebook fans’ favorite ingredient) in their next sandwiches and soups. And I’m sure you can identify which shop is competing on price alone while failing to build long-term customer loyalty.
Take a look at your company and your product family’s social media sites and web sites. Are they customer-centric? Learn more about customer-centric innovation. (GNPS Premier members can download this thought leadership paper for free.)
We use the Idea Incubator blog at Global NP Solutions to communicate with folks in the global innovation community. I encourage you to share your thoughts, feelings, and degree of satisfaction with GNPS by posting a comment below.
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Graphical image courtesy of themyndset.
Image of bagel courtesy of frugalgirls.
© 2012 Global NP Solutions, LLC
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