They say customer is king, and while that adage applies to the world of retail it also has part to play in the way Lenovo handles its business. More specifically how the Chinese firm thinks about innovation and the vital role that customer insights play in that regard.

We’ve chatted to Lenovo about this subject from a local standpoint in the past, but also got the opportunity to get some added perspective from the firm’s VP of global marketing Dilip Bhatia on the subject.

This opportunity came up during last week’s Lenovo Tech World conference, where innovation was a key talking point, and with a number of new devices being showcased at the event, highly relevant.

A fundamental shift

As Bhatia views it the definition of consumer products is changing, with companies now focusing on selling experiences, as this is ultimately what the customer wants. He specifically points to a Gartner report published earlier this year in which customer experience has overtaken product and price when it comes to brand loyalty.

As such he is of the belief that the brands that will last moving forward, will be the ones that focus on customer experience.

“Part of creating those great customer experiences is by listening to them,” Bhatia adds.

He also points out that many of the devices at Lenovo Tech World, specifically the ones that are later newer iterations, feature elements that have been developed as a result of customer insights.

Bhatia explains that an example of such insights can be sentiment scores, where product designers look at the most requested or talked about features of a device before deciding on what to improve or change for the following year’s model.

A network of customers

The VP notes that an important part of the process is the feedback that Lenovo receives on a global scale, with 26 countries providing feedback on new devices that have entered the market, or ones that are due for an upgrade.

From a local perspective, South Africa is one of the 26 aforementioned countries, but unfortunately it is the only territory giving feedback from the African continent.

An example of a device that changed its features or design as a direct result of customer insights is the seventh generation of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Here, the user-facing speakers were given a significant overall with audio quality improved as this was a key customer need.

Another example, for Lenovo’s notebooks in general, is less of a focus on resolution such as 4K quality, and more on a wide colour gamut and solid brightness.

A simple formula

This approach appears to have yielded the dividends that the firm has been aiming for, and as Bhatia comes to a conclusion, the formula for innovation is relatively simple for Lenovo – listen X learn X improve = innovation.

With Bhatia firmly believing that customer experience and innovation are intrinsically linked, he ends by pointing out that a failure to take on customer feedback will ultimately lead to the demise of your business.

“If you do not focus on experience, you can very quickly find yourself out of business,” he concludes.