Customer Innovation Guide: Five Roles Your Customers Should Be Playing

How Engaged Are Your Customers in Shaping the Future of Your Business?

October 11, 2006

This guide explores the five different roles that customers can play and companies can leverage to become an outside innovation organization. This is part one of a series that will explore the five customer roles, five core competencies, and five steps needed to harness customer-led innovation.

How Many of These Five Roles Do YOUR Customers Play in Outside Innovation?

How engaged are your customers in shaping the future of your business? The organizations that are doing the best job in both catalyzing and in harnessing customer-led innovation have engaged with different groups of customers in five distinct roles:

* Lead Customers
* Contributors
* Consultants
* Guides
* Promoters

As a good rule of thumb, at least 10 percent of your customers should be active in one or more of these roles, and at least 30 percent of your employees should be interacting and/or monitoring with customers in at least one of these roles. You can gauge your progress in transforming your organization into a customer-innovation culture by noticing how many of your employees and how many departments are engaging with customers in these various roles. You should know how many customers are playing each role; you should know their names; and you should know what outcomes they care about.

For each of the five customer roles in Outside Innovation, we provide a description of the roles customers play, a place to note how many customers you have playing each role, and the depth of your relationship with these customers. We then provide a list of activities (methods/behaviors/programs) you should be implementing to leverage each role. We also provide you with space to complete your self assessment: how well is your organization/division/department/group doing on fulfilling these requirements? We recommend that you identify those activities broken down into three categories ...


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