The Customer-Product Relationship, in Real-Time

image curtesy of mkhmarketing via flickr

image courtesy of mkhmarketing via flickr

The internet is wallpapered with customer feedback – frustrated customers publicly tweeting complaints, exuberant followers checking the Facebook page of their favorite company, and engaged end users submitting product suggestions directly to a company’s website. Easy access enables constant communication between companies, both large and small, and their consumers.

This variety of channels to communication can be beneficial to consumers, and to companies:

Social media gives a voice to the consumer – A public space like a company’s website or their twitter can be a platform for users to share opinions and experiences with not only the makers and sellers of the product, but with other consumers.

Ease of use – Most companies curate multiple social media profiles as well as a website. Recent statistics show that 72% of internet users are active on social media, that number goes up to 89% for users between 18 and 29.

Rich feedback – Where a survey can answer important questions, and market research can yield significant findings, direct communication between a company and their end users is a conversation to rich data. Consumers can speak on any topic – not just those the company knows to be important. With this conversation occurring in on a public platform, other users can join and help develop ideas.

Improved reaction and implementation time – Which brings us to the biggest benefit to consumer and company alike: reaction time is improved when customer interactions can be received in real-time, and responded to just as quickly. When this dialogue occurs in real-time, the product, and the company can improve and grow at a faster speed.

But, with easier access comes higher expectations. From the viewpoint of the customer, posting a product suggestion to their preferred social media platform is the easiest way to give a company direct feedback. From the vantage point of that company, that page or profile is just one of many outlets that require constant monitoring. Since the speed at which an end user can contact a company has improved, the assumption is often that they’ll receive a response, and see follow-through just as quickly.

Drawing this conversation to one location that is easily accessible to both the consumers, and employees can improve on everything social media has to offer to this customer/company relationship. Some companies utilize a crowdsourced innovation platform to monitor the conversation more effectively. An innovation platform allows customers to see all ideas submitted by other customers, and add to those ideas. It allows employees from all aspects of the product company to see, and participate in the full feedback cycle.

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