Inventing the world’s greatest product isn’t enough to completely satisfy today’s customers. They also want superior lifetime service to accompany what you’re selling.

According to new research from Accenture, leading companies are enveloping product innovation within a total customer experience that combines product, service, software and hardware.

“It is no longer enough to build the next generation car, music player, crane or plane to satisfy customers. Companies need to provide a superior experience to their rivals, from the point a customer shows interest in a product, through the research and purchase, to long after they own the item, with a series of services to keep the customer delighted,” said Richard Holman, managing director, Accenture Strategy.

The research is based on a survey of 351 companies across eight industry sectors and nine countries – Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of companies surveyed reported that their most successful innovations in the last two years have been derived from improved customer experiences and related new business models versus new products alone.

“Companies across all sectors are rewriting the playbook for how they innovate and organize to drive growth, with leaders achieving between 3.5 per cent and seven per cent higher revenues that are attributable to distinct approaches to innovation, product development and solution development.”

The impact of applying innovation to all aspects of consumer interaction, rather than just a product, revenue boost. Accenture estimates for the automotive industry, the impact of applying innovation in this way could see revenues increase by up to $1 billion; for consumer technology the revenue impact could be $633 million; for medical technology, it could be $581 million; and for industrial equipment manufacturers, the industry impact of innovation in this area could see a revenue increase of $567 million.

Accenture noted this approach can help traditional hardware companies which have been disrupted by digital technologies to shift their strategies to focus on software and connected experiences. For example, Swedish appliance company Electrolux is trialling “laundry Uber” where you could pay to clean your clothes at someone else’s home.

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