Today I'm cribbing from an article published by the McKinsey quarterly that identifies eight business technology trends to watch. Their list is as follows:
- Distribution co-creation
- Using customers as innovators
- Tapping into a world of talent
- Extracting more value from interactions
- Expanding the frontiers of automation
- Unbundling production from delivery
- Putting more science into management
- Making business from information
Here is a link to their article. You may have to register to read it all (but that's free!).
Anyhow, I wanted to take a moment and chat about using customers as innovators. Chrisa and I have just finished writing an article for Claims magazine on the power of online communities (We don't have the publication date yet, but I'll try to remember to mention it once we know). While researching the article, I was struck by how much customers will help each other if you have provided an active forum where they can do so. Plus, active participation helps boost brand and customer loyalty.
If you pay attention to what they are talking about, it can help you identify trends. You can also handle customer service inquiries this way through active forum monitoring--regular posters may actually field questions before your CSRs get to them, preventing them from becoming bogged down.
Never underestimate how much people like to be the expert--and get creative about how you can build camaraderie. For example, a company that makes indoor rowing machines (which I used to work out on all the time in college) has over 150,000 logbook users. Each week they post photos and bios. of two of the users. They also have rowing challenges so people can post about reaching their goals as well as information about their workouts.
By reaching out to customers you can more easily pay attention to their suggestions as a springboard for development or refinement of a product. We do it here with SceneExchange. Feedback from users has moved several features up the to-do list because they let us know it would positively impact their experience. And we do want our users happy! I know you do as well.
I'd love to hear about experiences from anyone using an online community. Thanks!