Over the past decade, we've witnessed companies come up with a dizzying range of new products, yet many are still wondering why they are struggling. Some of these innovation concepts focus on enhancing current products and services, while others focus on creating game-changing technology. Whichever innovation concept they focused on, they seem to have forgotten one crucial thing: that innovation, whether it is radical or incremental, cannot just be about new features, products, or technology. Rather, innovation efforts must be concentrated and directed towards products and solutions that customers love.
In the midst of this faux-innovation era, we are inundated with concepts and terms such as radical, disruptive, incremental, experience and more. Well, today we are going to debunk this business jargon and get to the heart of what it means to truly innovate in a way that customers will want to tell their friends about.
What is Lovable Innovation?
You may be asking yourself, "What is Lovable Innovation anyway?". Lovable Innovation is the process of learning what customers really value and then delivering complete, lovable products, services and experiences throughout the entire life cycle of the customer. Lovable Innovation doesn't end when the product is a success, it continues to satisfy the customer for the rest of their journey with you.
Lovable Innovation differs from our current understanding of the word innovation. Generally defined, innovation is the ability to systematically identify and execute opportunities to enhance and develop new products, attack new markets and define new approaches that ultimately lead to improved business results. While this definition is suitable for generic business processes, it does not achieve what is at the core of every great innovation process - a focus on customer needs.
I love my new iPhone!
Have you ever heard someone say, "Have you seen my new iPhone? It has an accelerometer sensor that allows for auto-rotate!" No. Instead, they say, "I love my new iPhone. Look at how I can turn it all the way around and still watch a video. It's amazing!" When a product is so good that it creates a real emotion, customers often describe this relationship with the ultimate descriptor - love. And when a customer feels love for a product, this often translates into telling their friends about it.
While radical, incremental and other forms of innovation are important concepts in product development, Lovable Innovation directs innovation efforts toward the goal of making lovable products and services. For example, Netflix creates love by allowing me to keep a DVD forever without penalty, as well as stream any movie I want on-demand. Apple creates love throughout the entire iPhone customer experience, starting with clean retail stores, well thought-out industrial and software design, integrated audio and other services.
The Components of Lovable Products
At the heart of the Lovable Innovation process lies a deeper understanding of what customers really care about and value, and then this must be broken down into manageable components. These components could be called love elements. Love elements certainly contain product features, functions and benefits, but they even go beyond this. For example, they may show up in the attitude shown by customer service agents. They may appear in the simple way that the product manual is written, in the way the buttons feels, or in any other touchpoint with the product and company. It is up to the company to identify, aggregate and quantify these love elements and then make tough decisions about which ones to focus on.
This is Part 1 in our series of "Lovable Innovation" essays, written in collaboration with Dorian Simpson of Planning Innovations. Stay tuned for Part 2 (Lovable Innovation: The Spotlight on GM) and Part 3 (The Five Essentials of Lovable Innovation) in the days to come!
Check out more from Dorian at www.PlanningInnovations.com
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