Starbucks just announced the launch of it’s website MyStarbucksIdea.com, designed to generate “revolutionary and simple” ideas. Customers can submit ideas and then they can vote on the ones that they think are the best. Here’s the deal with asking your customers for innovative ideas:
What you’ll get: A lot of incremental ideas that make small waves (to wit, the most popular idea thus far is a loyalty punch card that will get you a free drink after purchasing a set number of drinks). But don’t get me wrong; I do think that asking for customer’s ideas is very important because it demonstrates that you are listening and that you care as begin to implement some of the ideas. Also, the idea of voting for ideas gives customers more of a sense of control, which tends to lead them further down the path of engagement.
What you’ll not get: Transformational ideas. It is very rare that your customers will come up with the “next big thing” as we often times don’t know what we want or like until it already exist (or is at least only a step or two away from reality). Starbucks does have a very large customer base so they have a better chance that a customer will come up with something truly revolutionary, but for the rest of us, it’s very, very unlikely.
For a very good in-depth analysis, read John Moore’s excellent post.
[UPDATE: I love John Moore’s suggestion that he has here]