So you’d like to plan a customer co-creation session… That’s great news! A lot of magic will happen when you get your customers together to share their best ideas. (If you’re not sure this is for you, consider the outstanding benefits and approach discussed last week in part 1 of this series.)
But assuming you’ve figured out how to make one of these powerful sessions happen, what do you do next?
Getting started with your co-creation session
Before you jump into an intense session, it’s important to make customers feel welcome and get off to the right start. You may want to break the ice with something light, like a personal story or idea you’ve had. Don’t be afraid to add a little fun or humor. This can make your group feel more comfortable being honest, and I’ve found plenty of snacks and coffee or tea help with that, too!
After getting everyone settled, it’s time to dive into the actual customer journey. You must always keep in mind that you’re speaking directly with customers who’ve already been through their own journey with your organization. And you may have a lot to ask about, but please…
Don’t assume you already know how they’ll answer any one of those questions!
Now that we’re off to a great start, let’s get to why we’re really here. Let’s run this gathering like a boss to learn what kind of experience would really wow your customers!
Conduct a co-creation session that leads to action
1. Outline the journey from the customer’s perspective.
Break the customer journey into phases, then ask for group feedback on each phase. Label a white board or poster with some journey phases you’ve already identified, like “Awareness” to start, and follow through with each phase.
- Ask customers about what brought them to discover your brand. Maybe there was a bad experience with your competitor first. Or maybe a new problem sent them your way looking for a solution. A common pitfall with journey maps is when they skip these early phases and go straight to when a customer begins interacting with the brand itself. This is a huge mistake! Their journey can begin before they’ve even heard about you. It’s their journey, not yours.
- Listen up! Record not just what they say but HOW they say it. If someone says “my boss asked me to sign up with you” that’s different than “I heard from colleagues who are glad they signed up with you!” That type of nuance is critical to understanding the true experience.
2. Handle tricky questions and get different perspectives from small groups.
While documenting the journey, you’ll likely hear about odd or troubling situations throughout. Maybe one customer has glowing reports about their account manager while another says hers is obnoxious. These are the moments you must really dig into!
- Don’t assume it’s a people problem only. Processes, scripts, and the tech they depend on can have a huge impact on a perceived tone or attitude.
- Ask small groups to tackle a better “process” for these tricky situations. What would make the best improvement to the experience? Then come back together and compare notes from each group. What ideas resonate the most?
3. Make it rewarding to participate!
Throughout your event, be sure to acknowledge and thank those who are offering insights. Don’t just say so… Show them your appreciation with perks and rewards. This is a great chance to surprise and delight some of your best customers.
- It can be fun to make it somewhat of a game! I like to use small rewards that tie into the location, the goal or the company throughout the session. Whatever you can do to create a moment of surprise helps move the ideas along.
- If someone offers a great idea, hand them a special prize, place gift cards under table tents, or hand out crisp $100 bills.
- Don’t just offer perks as a temptation. Make these rewards truly memorable by surprise!
4. Use the facts and emotional feedback you get to create an action list.
As you get close to the end the session, you should have a few lists of great ideas and some less-than-ideal suggestions, too. Don’t worry about that now – it’s OK to be a little messy if that means keeping a good pace.
- Take a moment to sit down with your team and decide what takes priority based on your goals, what you know about your customers and products, and the emotions shared from their feedback.
- Create an action list that means something by tying accountability to it!
5. Close the loop with customers.
Finally, as you begin turning the feedback you gathered into actions that make a difference, share those results with the customers who helped you.
- Create a tickler reminder to reach out frequently to those customers and share personally what has improved as a direct result of their participation. They will feel not only heard, but proud of the positive changes they have created.
- Ask them if there were any afterthoughts they wished they had expressed during the session.
- It can’t hurt to ask them for feedback about the session itself!
Customer feedback is powerful innovation fuel!
And having a co-creation session is a powerful way to gather invaluable insights in creative and actionable ways.
How do you work together with customers to create the best possible experiences? Let us know in the comments!