Listening to Your Customers is not New

If listening to your customers is not new, nor is taking feedback and advancing a product based on enhancements from the field new, then I guess Social CRM is not really new. Well, ok, that part of Social CRM is not new. There is the other part, you know, the customer control of the conversation, where your customers can and will say things about you and you have a hard time getting them to stop. Skipping that later part, and focusing on the feedback part…

On the Creation of Value with Social CRM

This is the title of another great post written by friend Wim Rampen, who is also going to be speaking at a SugarCRM partner event in a couple weeks, in the Netherlands. I wish I was able to attend, nothing would be more interesting to listen to the great speakers, as well as a little heckling of a good friend. A central theme of Wim’s post is the following – “Value is not derived from your product, but created with your product“. Let’s spend just a moment thinking about that – think about how you position or sell you product or service. I will hang tight, take your time, I will wait. Are you confident that you position your products and services as helping your customers to get their job done? In other words, do you focus on what it does, or they do?

What would happen if you could support your Customers creating value in a more easy, better or quicker way, not just make them buy in a more easy, better or quicker way? Would that not provide you with the competitive advantage you want? Would that not create the advocates you want?

Listening is the key, it always has been

Wim makes some excellent points. He talks about how companies are just now starting to listen. The question is what exactly are they listening to, or possibly, what are they hoping to hear? If you have been reading at all in the Social CRM space, you have have probably heard the following in regards to Henry Ford  – “If I had listened to my customers, they would have told me they wanted faster horses”. This oft used example of how crowdsourcing may not always be best, sometimes seems to miss the point. If you take the statement at face value, then you might think the customers are not offering anything valuable to a car manufacturer. Well, if you understand what the customer needs to get done, get from point A to point B faster, then maybe there is some value there after all. Your customers may not always describe exactly what they need. But, more often than not they will be able to describe what they need to do.

Many companies, in a wide variety of industries, and geographic locations have been working closely with their customers for a long time. Social CRM was not required – or, as Graham Hill points out in his comments, companies have been doing Social CRM for a long time, before it was cool to call it that. The biggest change, and this may seem a little ‘1984’ ish, is simply that you can listen on many more channels, and your customers will be offering you information even when they are not trying to. If you stop and listen for a bit, and focus on what they are trying to get done, you will have a much better understanding of your customers. Notice, I did not say only listen when they are talking about you, they might simply be talking…

Do you focus on what your customers need from your product, or on what they need to get done?