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Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Customer Care

By the Customer: The Power of Customer-Created Offerings

Invite your customer to co-create. Their loyalty will soar, along with your reputation and bottom line.

Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 11:02

He stood on a platform in the early afternoon of a cold November day only a few feet from the edge of Soldier’s National Cemetery. He was dizzy and feverish, suffering with the beginning of smallpox. It had been four months since the end of the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. And he delivered a two-minute speech that would be memorized by students for the next 150-plus years: “Four score and seven years ago....”

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address captured the essence of American democracy in its closing words, “...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” It characterized a type of government that was not simply on behalf of its citizens. It is one created by the people. Through the voting process, peaceful demonstrations, freedom of speech and press, and citizen influence on elected representatives, we, the people, create the governance we enjoy.

How would Lincoln’s speech have been worded if he had been talking about a business or enterprise?

Businesses have always promised the marketplace that they that will provide products, services and solutions crafted for (on behalf of) those who pay for them. As a result, businesses spend much effort working to understand their customers to ensure that their offerings reflect those customers’ needs and expectations. But what would it be like if these offerings were “by the people?” What if they were customer-created, not just customer-focused? What if we truly “democratized” business? Envision the result of “bringing customers into the factory to let them help.”

The Craddock Terry Hotel, housed in a 1905 converted shoe factory in Lynchburg, Virginia, invites guests to take the hotel’s dog concierge, Penny Loafer, on a walk through the town’s historical district and to “decorate your own tree” during the winter holidays with shoe-themed ornaments. Vans Shoes enthusiasts have been able to design their own kicks since Vans first week of operation, when the company’s founder told a customer to go to a fabric store and buy cloth in the brighter color she wanted. Two of Starbucks’ most popular items—cake pops and pumpkin spice latte—came from the imagination of its customers. So did splash sticks and free Wi-Fi.

Customers as co-creation partners are able to bring their ingenuity, unique perspective, and aspirations to ensure the outcome is precisely what they want. With their fingerprints on the result, their enthusiasm for the offering goes up. People care when they share. Look for ways to invite your customer to be a co-creator and watch their loyalty soar, right along with your reputation and bottom line.

First published Sept. 1, 2020, on Chip R. Bell’s website.


About The Author

Innovating Service With Chip Bell’s picture

Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Chip Bell has helped companies dramatically enhance their bottom lines and marketplace reputation through innovative customer-centric strategies. For the sixth year in a row, Global Gurus in 2020 ranked Bell as one of the top three keynote speakers in the world on customer service. Bell has authored 24 books; seven are international best sellers. His latest book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions (Berrett-Koehler, 2020), shows how co-creation partnerships enable you to tap into the treasure trove of ideas, ingenuity, and genius-in-the-raw within every customer.