CUSTOMER-MADE: “The phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and experiences in close cooperation with experienced and creative consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in (and rewarding them for) what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed.”
Creating ads is not very exciting for savvy customers. Remember to think about where is the benefit to them? When you move to co-developing products, co-creating and selling them, while the opportunity expands, the issues may require some thinking. Who owns the intellectual property (IP)? How do you determine that?
Then there are the ongoing conversations - this is for companies that have read and digested The Cluetrain Manifesto. Companies set up mechanisms to talk with their customers about topics that go well beyond their products and services. However, questions like how would you change "name the product"? are still asked more successfully by third parties. For example, how would you change Microsoft if you were Bill Gates? The post received 251 comments.
Conversations, we should all know by now, don't only happen in the community you may have created on your site. So it's important to monitor the online space for those mentions. They are opportunities to learn, and potentially ask for more feedback. Interestingly enough, according to TrendWatching.com, even multi-billion dollar brands have told them that finding the 'budget' for dedicating just one full-time person to personally monitor the thousands of conversations about their brand would be a real challenge.
What is holding many companies back may be the fear of learning what customers really think. If you are not doing it, you can bet another company is - the conversation is already in progress. But that begs the question of how much can you ask your customers?
There are a number of successful organizations that have gotten successful by making it easy for volunteers to contribute to their success. I think it reasonable to expect that the most profitable customers may be that way by giving ideas and not solely those who buy your products. Will there be a time when these customers expect some form of compensation for their efforts?
If you built a community, what your customers contribute to it benefits other customers, as well as your company - word of mouth marketing, greater customer dialogue and satisfaction breed higher loyalty to your product and service, which in turn translates into repeated sales. The best customers might be those who are generous by helping you sell more - evangelists.
Today at Fast Company expert blog we wrestle with the right sequence of events a company needs to put in place to earn the right to ask directly how would you change our product? Can you fake authenticity? Can you skip the conversation around improving customer service in favor of innovation?