In the 21st century organizations are mainly concerned with how to improve their market position. The main objective is to cope with the competitiveness characterizing the business environment.
As a result, firm’s management teams are under increased pressure to develop new services in order to satisfy customer needs. Intervention of customers in the process of developing new services is important. This arises from the fact that it result into development of effective services. For example, the customers may contribute ideas which may aid in the development of the service.
Categories of customer involvement
There are two types of customer involvement in the process of developing a service (Edvardsson & Magnusson, 2006, p.5). The first entails user involvement which occurs at the design stage.
This stage is vital because it enables the firm’s management team to understand more about the customers’ specifications in terms of preferences, values and needs. The second type of involvement relates to new and pro-active techniques which entail incorporation of advanced tools aimed at establishing customer needs and also employing consumers as innovators.
Service development involves intensive critical thinking. Therefore, these techniques may be used in creating ideas as well as evaluating them. In addition, current services may be redesigned to fit the customers’ diverse needs. The techniques may be used to come up with solutions as well as with the customer specifications to make the services more customers specific.
Service design and customer involvement
The design stage is the most critical stage in the development of services. This arises from the fact that it is in this stage where the success of the service is evaluated. Success of an organization is directly related to the success of its services. For a successful service development process, early involvement of team members in the design stage is essential. The team which includes members from the marketing department is involved in ensuring that there is effective decision making, incorporation of skills and expertise.
Marketing aids in evaluating customer needs which are some of the requirements at the design stage. Customer involvement has in recent years increased during the products and services design stage (Lundkvist &Yakhlef, 2004, pp. 249-257).
Their involvement ensures the transfer of ideas and information to the firm. This interaction has been termed as the field for creating a social agency. Effective and efficient management of the design stage is very essential because deviations which may arise in future are contained or minimized in advance.
Designing a service involves a number of steps which the management must recognize. These steps ensure that the service conforms to the customer specifications.
Failure to manage the service design process adequately results into ineffectiveness of attaining the desired expectations (Jorvin, 2005, p.2-4). Therefore, customers should be involved at the service design stage so as to provide details regarding their specifications. Upon incorporating the specifications in the design stage, there is a high probability of the firm excelling in the competitive environment.
Innovation and customer involvement
There is a high probability of an organization which has incorporated the concept of innovation succeeding in the business environment despite the intensity of competition. Customers play a significant role in the innovation process of an organization. As a result, they are regarded as a vital organizational resource.
It is estimated that approximately 70% of all companies involve the customers in market research activities. The core objective of their involvement is to provide expert ideas in the service development process. A recent survey indicated that customer involvement in market research is high in developed technologies. In addition, the developed economies have increasingly incorporated the concept of continuous innovation compared to developing economies (Edvardsson &Magnusson, 2006, p. 41).
Customer involvement during the innovation process leads to increased acceptance of the new service developed. In addition, customer involvement leads to a continuous feedback thus enhancing the innovation process (Riel, 2005, p. 129). Active and ongoing involvement of customers in the innovation process enhances the research capability which results into production of effective services. In summary, involving customers in the service development process helps an organization to deal effectively with market risk.
Examples of companies
Many companies have embraced the concept of innovation. One example of such firms is the Mobile News Games LLC (MNG) which develops mobile games related to current events. Secondly, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) which deals with issues related to child obesity has tremendously intensified its service development in an effort to ensure that it serves its clients effectively.
However, there are companies which are ragging behind with regard to service development. An example of such firms is the Arkansas (Braun, 2010, para. 1-5). The firm has failed to embrace new technologies thus unable to compete in the service development.
Customer involvement in the product or service development process is vital. Through customer involvement, a firm is able to develop a high competitive advantage through provision of products and services which meet the market demand. The resultant effect is that the firm is able to succeed in the long term as a going concern entity. In order to succeed in the competitive business environment, firm’s management teams should incorporate the concept of customer involvement in their innovation process.
It is important for firms to consider incorporating the concept of customer involvement in the process of conducting product or service innovation. As a result, the firm will be able to develop a product which meets the market demand.
Braun, Z. 2010. Nuveen sues Arkansas firm over failed golf resort. Web. Web.
Edvardsson, B. & Magnusson, P. 2006. Involving customers in new service development. Sweden: Imperial College Press.
Jorvig, J. 2005. Managing your design process. Chandler: Jorvig consulting Inc.
Lundkvist, A. & Yakhlef, A. 2004. Customer involvement in new service development: a conversational approach. Managing service quality. Vol.14, issue 2, pp. 249-257.
Riel, V. 2005. Service innovation management. United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing.