Customer experience and innovation expert Woody Bendle  is here on the Brainzooming blog to share a great approach for recycling the customer feedback program data that's sitting in organizations with incredible innovation potential . . . for those who are savvy enough to take advantage of it. Here’s Woody!

Recycling Customer Feedback Program Data for Innovation by Woody Bendle

Recycling Customer Feedback DataDoes your organization have a Customer Experience Management (CEM) program?  Are you currently measuring and monitoring Customer Satisfaction (CSat)? Do you have a customer support center receiving and responding to customer feedback through phone calls, emails and letters?  Do you have a Facebook fan page where customer feedback comes via posts about themselves and your company?  Do you have customers talking about you on Twitter or on blogs?

If you said yes to any of these customer feedback scenarios, you’re probably already holding the keys to your company’s next innovation opportunity!


Many of you have likely made substantial investments in obtaining, monitoring and leveraging customer feedback through CEM, CRM or CSat programs.  Each customer feedback program can create tremendous value for your organization by providing timely and actionable consumer insights related to your customers' interactions with your associates and brand.

But what you might not realize is that this exact same customer feedback data can be leveraged for innovation.

Innovation is the process of creating new (and differentiated) customer value in the marketplace, which can create a sustainable competitive advantage.  This process has three phases (Identify, Innovate, and Implement) and each phase has three steps:

The most critical step in the innovation process is identifying unmet or under-served consumer needs.  Unfortunately however, this is where so many innovation efforts go awry – that is, right at the very beginning!  And let me tell you, when you screw up the beginning, it’s pretty much all down hill from there.

Do you realize that 80%+ of all new products launched each year fail?  This is beyond absurd; it is down right irresponsible and completely unnecessary!  The reason for this massive failure rate is because organizations either don’t understand the importance of addressing unmet consumer needs or they simply don’t care to take the time to identify their customers’ unmet or underserved needs.   And this where your existing CEM, CRM and C-Sat customer feedback program comes into play.

It’s all about customer needs!

Let’s face it - the only reason your customers interact with your organization is because you satisfy one or more of their needs in some capacity.  By interacting with you, your customers are able to get through their day a little better than if they hadn’t (or at least that’s how you ought to be thinking about it).  And, when they reach out to your organization (either directly through you customer support center or your CSat program), they’re likely doing so because you have either exceeded, or have fallen short of satisfying one or more of their needs.  And while nobody likes to hear about how they’ve frustrated or disappointed customers, it is precisely in those circumstances that you need to pay closer attention because:

  1. They wouldn’t be sharing their opinions with you if they didn’t have a need that they were hoping you could or would satisfy (or satisfy better)
  2. They wouldn’t bother telling you what they thought if it were easy to get that need satisfied elsewhere, and
  3. They wouldn’t waste their time taking a survey or sending you an email if they didn’t care about the relationship they have with your organization.

It’s for all of these reasons that you should view your customer feedback system and data as a valuable innovation asset!

So while many of you are sitting on this incredible innovation asset, I’m guessing few of you have spent much time thinking about how to mine it for product, service and/or process innovation opportunities.  The good news is that you already have a ton of hugely valuable customer feedback data; and getting this data in the first place is the hardest and most expensive part!  With just a little additional effort, and perhaps some additional technology, you will find you are much closer to your next innovation opportunity than you realize.

In order to begin recycling customer feedback program data for innovation opportunities, you’ll want to employ a process where you:

8 Telltale Customer Feedback Phrases Identifying Unmet Customer Needs

To help kick-start your efforts, here are eight telltale phrases you will commonly encounter when customers are telling you how your organization is not adequately meeting their needs:

  1. Why is it that…?
  2. This is ridiculous…
  3. I don’t understand why…
  4. You would think that…
  5. How come every time I…?
  6. How am I supposed to…?
  7. I wish that…
  8. It’d be nice if…

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of phrases you’ll encounter once you begin mining and recycling customer feedback data for innovation opportunities, I’m betting you’ll be surprised by how often you actually encounter each of these phrases once you start digging in!  And hopefully, I’ve encouraged you to begin digging!

So what are you waiting for?  Let’s get innovating! Woody Bendle


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