Steve Shaheen, CEO and Founder, DTG.
The news of Kenny Chesney returning for the 2023 Country Music Festival brought a smile to my face. Thoughts of missing parts of the concert while standing in endless lines for a hot dog and a beer, not so much.
At a concert last summer, I experienced firsthand the problems that arise when there aren’t enough concession stands to serve the crowd. It not only creates dissatisfied customers, but also leads to lost revenue for the organizers. As I sat in line for what felt like an hour, I thought about this pain point and the possible innovative solutions that could be used to remedy it.
For every existing business challenge or pain point, there is an innovative solution that can save the day – if only business leaders know how to look for it. Where does innovation start? With those who have boots on the ground: sales teams or business leaders closest to the customers and prospects. They are the ones who collect and hear customer insights and data or, as in my case, experience user frustrations firsthand. They are the ones incentivized to ensure their company’s solutions directly address their customers’ pain points.
Innovation: fair A Buzzword?
Today, the Chief Information Officer is not always the person in charge of IT; it could also be the Chief Innovation Officer. Some companies have large departments dedicated to innovation while touting their virtues as a leading driver of growth for their organizations. That was even apparent from the Accenture 2015 US Innovation Survey “84% of executives viewed their future success as very or extremely dependent on innovation.”
This is nothing new. Corning Inc. embraced innovation first developed Pyrex in 1915. And between 1960 and 1990, innovation was driven by R&D departments at companies such as Bell Labs, Xerox, HP and IBM.
I am not one to dispute the importance of innovation. In fact, I believe that innovation is crucial to long-term success as an organization. However, I also believe that few companies – even those with innovation specialists and large departments dedicated to innovation – focus enough on successfully identifying their customers’ real pain points and turning them into innovative business opportunities.
I’m not alone with this theory; one recently Deloitte survey found that “On average, only half of all innovation efforts achieve desired value goals.” Given the increasing role companies assign to ‘innovation’, this is an alarming finding.
So how can a company innovate the solutions for its pain points? Consider these best practices.
• Build an innovation culture. It is not enough to appoint a Chief Innovation Officer. A company dedicated to innovation should start in the C-suite and carry the spirit of innovation throughout the organization. Ideas should be encouraged and rewarded.
• Form strategic partnerships. You don’t always have to be the one innovating, and this is where strategic partnerships can come into play. Perhaps a channel partner or supplier is willing to work with you to create a pilot program to test your theories, respond to immediate needs, and create innovative solutions to address your customers’ pain points.
• Take the pulse of customers. Companies must constantly listen to customers and collect their input on what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes pain points aren’t apparent until you ask, and customers can become the best source of new product innovation.
• Be prepared to take a risk. No good innovation comes about without some risk. But through careful planning, pilot testing and strategic rollout, innovation risks can be mitigated.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all innovation strategy that works for every organization, one thing seems certain: Large, expensive, in-house innovation departments aren’t the only way to go. Look for innovation and inspiration both internally and externally. Encourage the sharing of opinions and new ideas at all levels of your organization. Reexamine your existing solutions. Perhaps they can be reconfigured to meet new market needs. After all, innovation breeds innovation.
Looking ahead to the Country Music Festival, I hope the stadium owners read the precious signals I and other concertgoers gave by stepping out of the concession line. They need to dig deeper for solutions to problems ahead to improve both the customer experience and their own profitability.
The bottom line is that there is pain everywhere. You just need to know how to look for it, know what to do about it, and recognize that pain breeds innovation.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.