Three techniques for using your customer’s voice to give you a competitive edge

With the products and services the agency supports, we often recommend bringing in the voice of the consumer to the conversation. It’s a gut check to ensure a client is really hearing what its customers are saying. While we spend time gathering the inside point of view from the client and their teams, there is no substitute for uncovering the true opinions and perceptions of the marketer’s customers, prospects and even its competition’s customers.

Are customers passionate about the brand? And why? Do they have negative feelings about the brand or a product? Have they had a good or bad experience recently? This is insight that can be used to bring in new customers, improve products and address misconceptions. Or even better, get your existing customers to buy more and tell their friends about the product.

Unfortunately, there are businesses that just don’t embrace this point of view. Sometimes, it’s not because they don’t value their customers’ and prospects’ opinions. More often, it has to do with corporate objectives and strategies that don’t necessarily line-up with outside points of view. And, in this economic environment, the importance of marketing communications falls to the bottom of the priority pile.

During these times, it’s getting even more difficult for a company with a deaf ear to succeed. Because no matter how much money they spend talking to the consumer, they will have never addressed what the consumer has asked for. And with consumers, using social media to talk about their experience, word will spread quickly if a brand doesn’t listen to its customers.

The good news is that it is easy to begin listening. Here are three ways you can start today.
1) Regularly conduct independent research and track your results. This is even more important in a tough economy.
2) Use social media tools to track opinion and reach out to consumers in real time.
3) Finally, make sure you are working with PR and marketing partners that will tell you the truth and help you effectively communicate it to your customers.

No matter what’s going on internally – and this recession has changed that even more – discovering the outside view of your product or service is critical to success.

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