Three Mistakes that Make Customer Co-Design a Waste of Time and Money

Don’t Bother If You Aren’t Going to Take Advantage of Your Customers’ Input

April 22, 2022

You’ve done the right thing! You’ve invested in working with your customers to design your next mobile app/product/service/business process. But doing a customer-facing co-design session isn’t enough. You have to have a clear plan on how you’re going to engage with customers throughout your development project, how you are going to use the insights you gain, and how to make sure your efforts see the light of day. Learn the three costly errors to avoid to ensure that your (and your customers’) efforts reap the rewards of co-design that you want and deserve.


Co-designing new product/services/processes with your customers can be your best bet for success. But it isn’t easy. You need commitment and resources as well as time and budget. But, most of all, you need to be ready to avoid three major mistakes that companies make even after they have invested in co-designing with customers.

Maybe it’s a good idea to listen to your customers!?!

These three mistakes are:

  • Starting too late in the development process
  • Failing to follow through on any of the ideas that your customers have given you; and failing to follow up with the customers to tell them how you are progressing and how much you appreciate their input
  • Allowing the powers that be to ignore customers’ wants, needs, and priorities in order to do what they believe is right (and usually most profitable rather than most beneficial to customers)

Before proceeding with customer co-design, or any customer engagement, make sure you embed customer input into all stages of development; ensure that you have the resources to follow through; and have an executive with clout on your side—one who embraces outside innovation and the importance of working with customers.


Committed to Customer Input

I recently returned from a customer co-design consulting engagement. The session went well. The client is working on a new software solution and was validating what it had come up with by mapping out key scenarios with end-customers. After the Customer Scenario Mapping session was over, our client presented a demo of the very early version of the solution to get feedback.

Everyone was gratified that pretty much every capability that was demonstrated was, indeed, something that had surfaced on the scenario maps as something that the customers wanted. Of course, as in any good co-design session, there were also a myriad of other capabilities that customers were eager for that were not (yet) part of the software offering. But the client company had demonstrated that it really understood the needs of its customer base.

How had it gotten so much right? Obviously, industry experience and knowledge, but also this long-time client of ours is dedicated to getting customer feedback from the get-go as it offers new products and services.

Next Steps

Now, the client goes back to the drawing board to address a bunch of questions. What can we add to make this a more comprehensive solution that touches on the majority of customer needs? In what time frame can we add these features? What is the minimum feature set that would entice customers to immediately want to buy the solution?

Armed with the results of the co-design session, which was actually the second session we conducted with them (with a different set of customers), the product development, sales, marketing, and executive teams need to go back and look at numbers, resources, forecasts, and what needs to be done to bring a successful product to market. But they are prepared. They have the customers’ wish lists. They are open to new ideas from customers and to honoring customer priorities. They even recognize the possibility that they might have to change direction if they determine that they can’t create a compelling product that will not only appeal to their customer base, but would be a “must have” rather than a “nice to have” addition to their customers’ tools. It’s really gratifying to work with a client who honors customers by engaging them deeply at every step of their product design process. Unfortunately, not all of our clients are willing to do what it takes to... (more)


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