Increased customer engagement is the key metric when aiming for high customer lifetime value. It results in reduced churn and increased revenue. Engaged customers are also more likely to say good things about you.
Co-creation is the single most important way of increasing customer engagement after you have the basic things, such as product quality and customer service, figured out. Co-creation allows your customers emotionally own a small part of your business as they have participated in building it.
Co-creation also produces immediate benefits, such as more efficient ways to collect and analyze information. Or does it? Not always and, at least, not automatically. It can be a complete waste of your time, generate misleading information and make your customers angry.
I wanted to share our secret list of the situations when you should not use co-creation to engage your customers.
1. If your customers don’t care
Co-creation only works if your customers care enough about the topic. It may seem like a good idea to reward your customers for participating but that hardly ever leads to anything good, especially if the reward is the sole motivation to co-create.
Forget about co-creating your website. Publishing a new site might be your priority number one for months but your customers couldn’t care less. Unless, of course, they love your company enough to line up for your products 48 hours outside – even though it’s freezing cold and raining.
2. If you’re afraid
Co-creation only works if you’re committed to the project. If you’re ashamed to contact your customers and ask them to help you out, forget about it.
Forget about co-creation if you feel like you’ve already spammed your customers beyond good taste.
3. If your customers don’t know enough
If you ask a random group of people about quantum physics, no one will answer. Ask them about global economy and everyone will answer. If you’re after facts about a complex topic, be sure to ask the right people.
Forget about co-creating your software architecture with your customers. Instead, involve them in developing the user interface.
4. If you’re not going to use the input received
When you ask, and receive answers, people expect you to use the input they gave. If you’re not willing to change anything, don’t ask. By the way, if you're not going to act on the insight your customers share, you're not co-creating and engaging, you're spamming.
At some stage of our own software R&D we asked the customers for the first time to describe how they would like to change our service design. We received excellent suggestions but we were basically broke. We couldn’t invest into R&D after all and weren’t able to meet our customers’ expectations on acting on their suggestions.
Co-creation helps you to collect information, make better decisions and get people engaged but it’s not a magic trick that resolves everything. There are several methods of co-creation, which we’ll address later. Whatever method you use, remember to keep things simple for the people you’re trying to engage and, hopefully, for yourself.
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