24 October, 2017

Who do you want your customer to become?

Customer is King

Thinking about the customer is a high-risk innovation type. Customers' needs and desires keep changing, which adds to the risk. Inspiring customers to behave in a new way is something very few organizations are thinking about.

Defining New Behavior
Steve Jobs' Apple designed touchscreen interface which inspired customers to behave differently. Henry Ford never thought about motivating horses to run faster. Instead, he built cars. Elon Musk didn't continue Henry's tradition. He is working on promoting faster travel through Hyperloop and supporting space tourism. Google is going a step further, building driverless cars. These products augment human abilities and improve their well-being in better ways.

Things get interesting when specially-abled people start to use such innovative technology. For example, a blind person using a cane could use google maps to guide her to the destination. Countries like Japan can entrust driverless cars for octogenarians who continue to drive and cause accidents. There are innumerable opportunities.

Drones were discounted as toys in the early days. Today, they are used in photography in extreme conditions of climatic disasters, war scenarios, spying, products delivery and for many other purposes. A typical drone looks like a toy with a remote control, needs zero learning and is ready to fly as soon as you unpack it.

Drones discovered new customer behavior.

Hotel Bookings
Travelers want to book hotels in advance because when prices are cheaper. But, they are intimidated to make a payment in advance. If they are not sure to make it to the hotel, they would like to avoid refund hassles. They prefer paying on the day of their check-in. In many cases, travelers would like to cancel the booking. Since they didn't pay earlier, they are happy to cancel without spending a penny. Maybe, they are okay with a small cancellation fee, occasionally.

Booking.com re-defined customer behavior in many ways:
Travelers can book the hotel in advance without making payment. Travelers can cancel the hotel with Zero cancellation fee. Hotels with cancellation and non-cancellation policies are highlighted, directly encouraging travelers to book the hotels with free cancellation facilities. Highlight cancellation dates and how much cancellation fee applies after due date. Free cancellation feature encourages many tourists and business travelers to book hotels on booking.com for visa purposes if some countries have trouble issuing invitation letters to them.

Booking.com discovered new customer behavior.

Innovate with the Customer in Mind
Organizations / People looking to innovate with the customer in mind must spot unique change or trend in customer behavior

Steps involved in Customer Innovation

  1. Discovery of a new customer behavior
  2. Creating a new type of customer based on the behavior
  3. Creating a new market

This is a high-risk innovation which takes a long time to become disruptive. If done right, this innovation can re-define future of products and services.

Think Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX!

How do you innovate?

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