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Co-creation lesson #3 : dialogue

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The idea is of course not new and the importance of dialoguing with customers (and other stakeholders) is widely acknowledged (Ballantyne, 2004).

Co-creation research makes extensive use of dialogue and different stages can be recognized which represent a steady evolution from the early 90’s until today.

Whereas interactions were merely seen as a way to convey satisfaction, employee satisfaction and eventually increased loyalty in the 90’s, it has evolved into a dialogue of equals. At a later stage, with the customer entering the playground, a more active involvement within the firm’s internal processes was made possible. Today’s view on customer dialogue is based on an active participation of the customers. One could speak of participative marketing and some companies think that their success is based on their ability to make customers participate.

The example of software companies letting customers test their product is an evidence of the benefits of customer’s participation: the company can improve its products, the voice of the customer is heard and listened to, the buyers’ community enjoys a better product.

My Take :

Customer involvement seems to me so obvious and necessary that I still wonder how managers can rely on their own thoughts only to develop their business.

However what I don’t say is that customer involvement will lead to success. This is not true and too often consultants and marketing agencies try to convince their customers of the contrary. It is NOT because you’re doing focus groups, interviews and the like that your products will necessary be better. It is NOT because you talk to customers that they will necessary significantly more satisfied.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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