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Why co-creation is the way forward for first direct

23 Sep 2011

As first direct uses the first direct Lab to involve customers in choosing its next debit card design, Natalie Cowen, Head of Brand and Communications at the direct bank comments on why they've chosen co-creation to help guide their choices.

"Our customers often comment that, whilst they like our stylish black cards, they find it difficult to tell the difference between our debit and credit card designs when they're in a rush.  If I'm honest I've nearly confused them myself, so by popular demand we decided to redesign our debit card.

"Historically we would have chosen the final design as a team.  However it seems only fitting that, now we have the first direct Lab, our customers should have a say.  To that end we've chosen the two designs we like best and asked the public to let us know which they prefer - their response and the findings of other traditional research we've carried out will determine which is chosen.  Simple.

"The first direct Lab, probably more widely known as a beta lab, is a straight forward concept that I'm surprised more innovative companies aren't using.  We have a method of directly engaging with our customers, brand fans and the general public to influence and drive the direction we take with products, services and well, everything really.

"One of the main reasons people feel let down by a brand, from financial institutions to supermarkets, is that they believe their opinions and frustrations haven't been considered.  Customer service is at the heart of everything we do at first direct , so it seemed obvious to turn to co-creation to make sure we're on the right path.

"The response to the Lab over the last few weeks has been genuinely encouraging.  We're approaching 4,500 comments and the quality of these thoughts and ideas has exceeded our expectations. We're already using the public's opinions to shape and improve projects in the pipeline and we're just starting to go through their suggestions to see how we might be able to implement them. 

"It seems obvious, but surely it's better to discover what your customers really want before spending time, money and resources on a project - co-creation allows us to do just that."

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