Are You Making the Most of Customer Content?

March 3, 2011

Customer-driven content is an incredibly powerful tool that every company should be leveraging. Yet far too many companies, continue to ignore the great power of customer conversations, even as social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter have made two-way conversations with customers SO easy.

Rich DiTieri is the owner of Pintley (as in pint of beer), an online community for beer novices and aficionados. Pintley’s business is based on community, and the recommendations DiTieri offers can be applied to any company looking to effectively leverage customer content.

Know which platforms best benefit your company

First, and most importantly, says DiTieri, set clear goals: “Know why your company is using the platforms and what you hope to get out of them.”
In other words, don’t just enable the blogging function on your website or set up a Facebook fan page without determining how customer content derived from these platforms will benefit the company.

“Make the goals specific and measurable,” DiTieri says. “With properly defined goals, an organization should be able to turn individual and aggregated reviews [and other content] into permission assets and powerful marketing data.”

Use customer testimonials in your marketing materials

Customer testimonials, for example, are among the most powerful marketing tools at a company’s disposal, yet many companies are not making the most of positive customer feedback posted in online communities or on social media sites. “Leverage the best user feedback in your marketing,” DiTieri suggests. “If it was positive, thank them for their business and reward them if possible.  If it was negative, see what you can do to help, focusing on turning the negative experience into an example of shining customer service.”

Use customer comments and testimonials in press releases and marketing materials. Load up your sales team’s PowerPoint presentations with them.

One company that is making hay of customer reviews is home shopping giant QVC. During on-air presentations of products that have received several 5-star reviews, the page for the product, and its reviews, is displayed. Anyone on the fence about ordering the product may just be swayed by seeing how many people “love, love, loved” it.

Make sure you have a moderator

Businesses must take into account (literally) that resources will be required to properly curate customer content. Maybe your company isn’t at the point of hiring a dedicated community manager, but someone must be tasked with the job of moderating customer-driven content–wherever it appears. Assuming that someone at the company will eventually respond to comments and provide fresh content for customers to respond to is silly at best and dangerous at worst.

Businesses should also acknowledge what is likely a treasure trove of good suggestions amongst customer-generated content, setting up a system for categorizing and addressing the ideas.

“Responses should be categorized into different business areas, such as customers service, product quality, technology, etc., and then managers can more easily sort through the responses and decide which ideas have merit, which ideas should be explored in more detail, and which ideas can be ‘tweaked’ to add value back to the customers. Then committees of employees can be assembled to address the ideas and implement them in the company’s business practices,” adds Janet Boulter, business advisor, Center Consulting Group. “Too many companies request this information but fail to act on the information. After a while, if customers don’t see improvements, they will take their business elsewhere.”

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