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3 Reasons to Involve Customers in the AI Product Development Process


Presented By: CrmXchange

Contributed Article by Jason Tatum, Vice President of Product at CallRail

There’s an all out race across the technology industry today to introduce AI-driven products and integrate generative AI into existing products following OpenAI unveiling ChatGPT last year. In fact, at least 89 percent of software companies are already using AI to differentiate their products, according to a recent survey from Bain & Company. Not only are executives and investors hoping to cash in on the current market boom, but the early adopters of AI are already seeing results and productivity gains as companies explore new ways to use AI to achieve business goals.

Don’t expect the frenzy to slow down anytime soon either. Nearly half of companies are reporting that AI is their top priority for tech spending over the next year and AI budgets are more than double the second-biggest spend area. There’s no doubt that the ongoing advancement of AI will continue to unlock new levels of efficiency, innovation, and personalized customer experiences that drive exponential growth and transformation across industry. However, as companies seek to gain the upper hand during today’s “gold rush,” many are making the mistake of prioritizing the speed with which they introduce solutions to capitalize on the hype.

Moving with speed might seem appealing, but make no mistake: the real winners will take a more deliberate approach that ensures the technology is truly creating the most value possible for customers – which is only possible if they’re involved in the development process from the start. There’s three specific reasons why.

1. Customers can take the guesswork out of where AI is going to be the most useful 

A large number of tech companies today are simply tapping their operating cash flow to add AI to their existing product and services, but simply slapping a generative AI-powered chatbot – while potentially exciting at first – won’t actually move the needle for most customers.

While it can be fun to witness ChatGPT’s power wrapped inside the context of existing tools, that thrill will wear off sooner than expected. The true driver of business transformation will come from products who have craftily leverage generative AI to unlock insights of large data to unlock a value set to customers that was impossible to unearth before in any efficient manner. Involving customers in those discussions from the very beginning can achieve two goals at the same time: helping companies to move with the speed that stakeholders are expecting, but also moving purposefully in a way that ultimately solves real business challenges and delivers true value. In fact, rather than looking for the best place to “slap on some ChatGPT,” tapping customers can provide clear, data-backed guidance around where companies should be putting their immediate focus.

2. Customers can provide direct feedback on what’s working – and what’s not 

Engaging customers as early as possible and providing the opportunity to have access to new product capabilities will be key to provide product and engineering leaders access to the direct feedback that matters most: what’s working, what’s not, and what’s actually going to be useful.

Building a strong, interconnected communications loop guarantees a well-oiled machine for filtering customer feedback while simultaneously ensuring all stakeholders feel heard, engaged, and valued. Doing so also lets leaders keep a close eye out for win-win opportunities that could allow companies to deliver on the immediate needs of existing customers and march toward future business goals at the same time. For instance, there may be features that you can build today that will provide the foundation of another future feature already planned.

3. Customers can help ensure the technology has high adoption rates when it’s finally ready to be rolled out more broadly 

With so many companies attempting to take advantage of the current AI explosion as both a revenue driver and competitive differentiator, developing feedback loops that allow product and engineering leaders to develop customer feedback into the product development isn’t just essential for creating a solution that truly meets their needs – but also helps companies to stand out in a marketplace that’s becoming more crowded every day.

By making user feedback a central part of your company culture, you can be sure that you’re both delivering value to existing customers, catching the attention of future customers, and ultimately carving out a unique niche that allows you to stay ahead of market trends.

The Future of AI Product Development 

Customer feedback should be used as an incredibly powerful – if not the most important – tool for companies to create better products, build stronger customer relationships, exceed user expectations, and create a more competitive business. Unfortunately, it goes too often overlooked during moments of rapid innovation like we’re seeing today.

So for all of the companies that are currently looking to advance their products amid today’s AI boom, just remember: It’s not the first ones to the gold mine who necessarily wins — it’s the one who shows up better prepared.