Harnessing the Wisdom of Customers: Free Social Networking Tool Brings Companies Closer to Their Consumers

May 15, 2008

Connecting with Customers Quickly and Cheaply:
MBA students learn a few core marketing concepts over and over: First, we learn that customers are key to the development of any sound marketing strategy. Second, we learn the value of listening to customers and the wisdom of crowds. We also learn that the mere act of responding to a customer often increases loyalty. Unfortunately, maintating an ongoing customer dialogue can be both costly and time intensive. Social networking utilities are increasingly being used as a quicker and cheaper alternative to close the feedback loop.

Crowdsourcing is Embraced by Industry Leaders:
Dell (www.DellIdeaStorm.com/) and Starbucks (www.MyStarbucksIdea.com) have used the convergence of these three concepts to connect with their users. I suspect most people are familiar with the sites, but in a nutshell: customers can make suggestions, vote on existing suggestions (leading to an aggregate popularity score) and discuss aspects of either with fellow customers and company representatives. Furthermore, company officials can respond directly to customer suggestions and indicate what actions they’re taking towards implementing those suggestions, thereby closing the customer feedback loop.

Early results:
Customers seem to like it — Dell’s IdeaStorm receives 40,000 visitors per week, and the site has directly led to the implementation of more than 30 customer-sourced ideas in just the past year. Although it’s too early to tell the long term impact, ideally the sites will lead to increased customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and market share.

How can I use it?
This can be used by any industry that values their customers’ input. In addition to large custom solutions, such as Salesforce.com’s Ideas (which powers both Dell and Starbucks’ pages), smaller users can create the same functionality and aesthetic for free with UserVoice. You can check it out here: https://uservoice.com/account/new?referrer=ad. If you do use it, we’d love to hear about how it works for you.


4 Responses to “Harnessing the Wisdom of Customers: Free Social Networking Tool Brings Companies Closer to Their Consumers”

  1. Jose Climaco Says:

    Obiously listening to what customers has always been the most important part of marketing. I don’t know why companies took so long to adopt concepts such as total quality managements which focuses on the customers.

  2. radymarketingon Says:

    To Jose:
    Note that listening to the customers is indeed many times easy. Knowing what to do with what you hear is a whole other matter. Interacting with them, on the other hand, opens many doors to actually understanding what you hear, as well as building relationships.

  3. […] public links >> dellideastorm Social Media Schooling Saved by Poorly on Thu 30-10-2008 Harnessing the wisdom of customers: Free social networking tool … Saved by opentorrent on Thu 30-10-2008 Comment on Idea Exchange Rocks by Karsten Bjørk Rasmussen […]

  4. Tara Schmit Says:

    There is definately a lot to find out about this subject. I really like all the points you have made.

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