The ability to innovate and come up with new and exciting products is what keeps companies afloat in the fast-paced business world. If you’re not moving forward, you might as well be moving backward. If it’s been a while since your company has had a ground-shaking breakthrough, it may be time to start “crowdsourcing” your company’s innovations. Since your customers are the ones who receive your end product or service, they are an extremely valuable source for new ideas on how you can improve.
If you have an online presence already—and you really should—then you have an audience that is likely filled with ideas that could benefit your company. Here are 6 tips to tap into your online audience to get fresh ideas that can help grow your business.
Ask for Feedback
This is more than a general “customer satisfaction survey”. You should be offering a separate survey asking specific questions that are targeted at garnering new ideas. You might as things like, “If you could improve our product in one way, what would it be?” or “What would you do to improve our delivery methods?” Targeted questions like these encourage in-depth answers that can help you to find ways to improve.
Ask What They Want
Ask your customers what end result they’re looking for from your product or service. Ask them if something is missing that they wish you offered. If you ask them exactly what they want, they’ll probably have an answer, and that answer might include something you’re not currently offering. And, if you discover that many customers are searching for the same thing, you just might have a breakthrough product on your hands.
Offer an Incentive
A lot of times, questionnaires and surveys get ignored online. So if you really want to tap into your online audience, offer an incentive for participation. Perhaps they get a coupon code for filling out the survey or submitting an idea for a new product. Or maybe you offer a prize to anyone whose ideas you utilize. Incentives will greatly increase the number of engagements you receive, and will help you to collect more ideas for your company’s growth.
Always Follow Up
If your customers submit an idea, don’t let them feel like it’s being ignored. Even if you don’t utilize their idea, following up and letting them know you appreciated their submission goes a long way towards building rapport and a positive online reputation. If you put out another call for innovative ideas in the future, people will be more likely to participate again if they felt like you genuinely appreciated their efforts the first time around.
Don’t Ignore Negativity
Don’t just ignore negative online reviews. Those customers were unhappy for a reason, so make sure you always follow up to find out exactly where you went wrong. Of course, some people are going to be unhappy no matter what you do. But in some cases, you just might find that there is a genuine issue with your product or service, and that unhappy customer can help you to come up with a new and innovative way to fix the problem.
Use the Right Tools
Crowdsourcing ideas for your company can yield a lot of great ideas, but you have to have a way to properly manage the submissions you receive. If you allow things to just go into a general inbox, you’ll end up with a flood of messages, and some might slip through the cracks. Utilizing innovation management software, which is specifically designed for tasks like these, will allow you to better manage and filter the suggestions you receive from your customer base.