Help! My Customers Hate My Innovation

I was responding to a comment on the actKM forum and it got me thinking again about this question that has bothered me every and then. You have a bunch of happy and delighted customers. Then you innovate and produce something they did not ask for but you think they’ll like. Because it is an innovation, it is not quite yet stable. You’ve now opened the eyes of your customers to your innovation, but they become unhappy because of the “bugs” they have to deal with in your new service/product. In a nutshell, your happy customers are now unhappy because of your innovation.

Is innovation always a good thing? When is sharing knowledge (the innovation embedded in your new service pr product) bad for customers? What can we do to help customers share the same enthusiasm?

2 Comments so far

Kelly G

I’m a bit late on the comment here smile

I think that this issue actually encompasses marketing—you must know your customers!
Some people/businesses are comfortable on the edge—they tolerate betas and are willing to experiement and contribute their experience back to the innovator.
Other users/businesses are NOT comfortable with this scenario. in software, this can range from those that simply wait until a stable version is released to those that wait until it is in the “mature” phase) If you are consulting with this more conservative group you don’t want to expose them to any instability as this make shake their confidence in you and your products & services. I would advise only telling them about your innovation underdevelopment and asking if they are interested when it is more fully developed.
Again, this requires that you know these clients well enough to judge where they are in adoption behavior.

Posted on June 07, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Comment permalink


Kelly, thanks for your comments - they are never late smile

I agree with you that knowing the customers and inviting them to be part of the innovation process does help.  The situation I described was actually in reference to an organisation I know that creates new products/services pretty frequently, and not our own consulting work. Not all the new services that are produced by this particular organisaiton are met with the same enthusiasm by customers.  Then again, not all the services can be co-designed with the customers.

I think that for the well-received services, the use of a prototyping approach had helped, ie. a small scale implementation followed by a review for fine-tuning, then a pilot which is a little more than a prototype and the review, before the full blown rollout.

Posted on June 12, 2006 at 10:36 PM | Comment permalink

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