Companies are always trying to fix issues with their products and services. They may pump millions into R&D, try to promote new products that may not actually satisfy a need, or change existing products that actually aren’t the issue. One practical solution to many company problems is to listen to customers. Many people believe that companies don’t listen to their customers, but “[…] marketers paid Nielsen over $4.8 billion in 2009 for information about which products were selling in stores […] companies pay for syndicated research sources like Nielsen […] because they all want answers to similar questions” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 79-80). One easy, free way for companies to listen to customers’ (dis)satisfaction is to check out crowdsourcing websites such as Yelp. However, a major downside to using Yelp for example is that the reviews that customers post are often very polarizing, they can be very negative, or very positive. It wouldn’t represent all of the company’s customers. In the Information Age that we live in, there are mountains of info that companies can gather regarding their products, but therein lies the issue: it is not acquiring the information that gives a competitive advantage, because that is a simple task, however it is transforming the information into meaningful data and applying it to the company that creates success.
Agencies such as Communispace are hired by companies help integrate the power of their consumers to foster innovation in their business. This video briefly explains how Communispace uses “private communities” to provide a service. Listening to customers is a way of fostering good business that has been around since the dawn of time, however with the advent of the Internet, and our ability to greater utilize the Internet over the past decade or so, it’s not as much of a competitive advantage as much as it is a requirement to compete. Customers realize how valuable this information is, and over that same time frame, they have started to feel the desire to put a price on their information.
Since pretty much everybody is at least somewhat active on social media, it has become easier for agencies to track individual consumer desires and market to them accordingly. Communispace conducted a survey that found “while 68 percent of consumers say it is “OK” for financial services companies to use information from their customers for personalized marketing, 79 percent say it is “not OK” for financial services companies to track their online behavior or to buy their demographic data for targeting purposes” (PR Newswire, 2015). As previously mentioned, people are realizing that their personal information is valuable. 70% of people surveyed by Communispace would sell pertinent information to brands, so although it is easier to extract customer information than before, it is also more costly.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell. In C. Li, & J. Bernoff, groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review.
PR Newswire. (2015, April 22). New Communispace Report: Consumers Tell Financial Brands They Want to Be Courted For Their Data. Retrieved from PR Newswire: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-communispace-report-consumers-tell-financial-brands-they-want-to-be-courted-for-their-data-300069633.html