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Listen to Your Customer's Stories to Improve Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 2, 2009

Social media are here to stay, and businesses of all sizes can take advantage to better serve customers, inform product development, and strengthen marketing. So how do companies start leveraging social media and communities in order to drive immediate returns? By simply "listening" to the stories your community is telling on the Web, you can become the proverbial fly on the wall—and reap the benefits along the way.

Sound too good to be true? As the Internet has become a true participatory medium, consumers are interacting with brands and companies in new ways, sharing more information about personal preferences, history, and opinions than ever before. The Internet has rendered the customer experience an open book, with that book often including stories or narratives detailing personal experiences with a company and its products. Some are encouraging, some are critical, and many are highly opinionated. All bring deep insight to a company about its customers.

So, what do you need to do to get started? Small businesses can easily leverage existing social mediums—like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube—or build new communities to encourage customer feedback around how they are using a product or feel about a brand. These stories provide a new venue for your business to conduct a two-way conversation with customers and go beyond the customer/provider relationship to create a true community around your company or product. By providing a venue for people to convene and keeping an ear open to the community’s feedback, you’re on your way to capitalizing on the wisdom of your masses.

Mary Lou Song
Cupertino, Calif.

Reader Comments

kare Anderson

September 7, 2009 3:13 PM

I heartily agree Mary Lou: customers; stories are the most accurate source of exactly what customers like and do not like about our products and services
- and how we sell to them and serve them
- and how they use the products
- and what they want changed.

Ask and listen to them + immediately reward them ANY time they offer a story, ask a question or make a suggestion.

In this bad economy it is also vital to coddle and reward your top 5% of your clients who are most lucrative to you. Yet first you have to know who they are. If you aren't tracking that metric you are missing a vital opportunity, as well, to see what they have in common so you can attract more clients like them.

Plus if you as your customers one revealing question then you can discover complementary, reputable businesses that you can partner with to create ways to become your kind of customers top-of-mind first choice:

"What are two or thee other businesses that you really like and buy from?
~ another fan of small biz tips, Kare

Go Tour China

September 8, 2009 12:27 AM

Great insight! I love interacting with my clients, customers and friends. It helps me run my business more efficiently and makes it more enjoyable too!

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