How To Get Happy Crowds
You don’t need much more evidence than the last year’s numbers from Kickstarter to understand that crowdification is in full swing:
- 3.3 million people from all over the world pledged on projects
- There were $529 million in pledges
- Funding over 22,000 projects
You can see: the crowd is fully engaged. We no longer want to sit back and be told what we get – we want to actively participate in the product creation process. We want to build too.
Gone are the days when you can decide what’s best for your customers – they want to be intimately involved from day one – not just in the feedback after your product hits the shelves, but from many, many days minus launch, preferably during or even before the inception stage. Today, customers not only expect their products and services to do more than ever before – they expect to be in the driver’s seat before you even put pen to paper on your next product.
Some fight this. Some still hew to the old belief that they know what their customers need, and they are going to give it to them, whether they like it or not. However, these companies will soon be few and far between. Instead of fighting it, why not embrace it?
Give your customers and prospects something to do. Take a look at some of the tasks that your employees are doing and see what you can push through the crowd – if they are willing and interested in doing the work, why not let them? All you need to do is to implement a process to control the quality of what goes out.
Of course, like anything where you engage your customers, it could be a double-edged sword: it’s a new communications method for your customers, so they may use it to complain about your current product offerings. but at the same time, you could glean excellent insights into what your customers are looking for.
Case in point: My Starbucks Idea. A number of years ago, Starbucks opened up a website to gather and rate ideas from customers – both for areas of improvement and new product development. If you take a quick look at the numbers, there has been a ton of customer engagement, and a lot of really good ideas which benefit their customers came out of the woodwork, were developed and launched. Starbucks leveraged this tool to not only engage and involve their customers but to also offload new product development ideas to their customers. Sure, some of the ideas didn’t go anywhere, but I’ll bet that a large number of their new product found its genesis in a customer’s mind.
Why not do the same for your customers? I’ll bet that you have some of your own raving fans out there who would love to be a part of the new product creation groups for your company. When you reach out, I’d bet you’d be pretty surprised by the cool stuff the crowd can come up with.
Yes, even a Veronica Mars Movie.