The social media revolution and the fast progression from a push to a pull economy have forever changed the essential nature of how businesses and consumers interact with each other.
Individuals today are empowered and use digital and mobile technologies to satisfy their information needs – basically on their own. They consume a multitude of different channels and sources prior to making a purchase decision and make up their minds about your company – sometimes even way before they arrive at your store.
To have any influence on their purchase decisions, you have to be relevant and find ways to engage shoppers more effectively. Considering this challenge, the concept of collaborating with customers gains new importance for forward-thinking businesses.
“Customer collaboration refers to the way an organization uses customer feedback to benefit its business, products and services.” (Technopedia)
Customer collaboration is just a great way to build loyalty. Considering that 89% of customers would switch to a competitor if the experience is poor, it makes sense to involve customers more closely. You will be able to get a real-time gauge of trends and find the nuggets that will help you differentiate and better understand the expectations of your target groups.
My Starbucks Idea is an excellent example for a successful implementation of customer collaboration in a digital realm and turning customer feedback into business intelligence. Starbucks helped grow the community and encourages customers to submit ideas for better products and enhancing existing products. The initiative was launched in 2008 and has helped Starbucks enhance its business and show how much and how well it is willing to listen to its customers.
Approximately half of consumers want to have a direct impact in shaping future products and services. This is especially true of millennials for whom the ability to collaborate with businesses is a deciding factor in their purchase decisions.
And it can work. In a recent survey by Vision Critical, 54% of companies say customers have a significant impact on their business. In addition, 60% of successful companies said they collaborate with customers in areas such as product creation and refining marketing products.
You should be looking to gather feedback at every opportunity possible.
Fostering customer collaboration in meaningful ways certainly doesn’t come cheap and may require a level of trust many businesses aren’t ready for.
But what if you don’t have the time or the people to build and manage a vibrant community like MyStarbucksIdea.com? If you want to start easy, there are ways how you can use collaboration in Guided Selling with equally rewarding results.
How You Can Use Customer Collaboration in Guided Selling
First, Understand Affinity
We all know that not every shopper is the same. In order to understand who you want to collaborate with in a certain way, you need to understand the level of affinity each shopper has with your company.
- Transactors: one time purchasers who have no loyalty to your brand
- Supporters: long-time customers who don’t recommend or promote your brand
- Promoters: long-time loyal customers who promote your brand on social media
- Co-creators: long-time loyal customers who have definite ideas about your brand and want to share them with your company
Listen to and Analyze Transactors and Supporters
Asking questions and listening to shoppers can give you extremely valuable feedback and insights into why your customers bought your products.
However, there are some customers, who just don’t want to fill out yet another survey. By analyzing the answer distribution of interactive product guides that shoppers use to discover the most suitable product, you will be able to gather a plethora of feedback for product innovation, product development as well as procurement – without having to send out email questionnaires.
Promoters enjoy your brand and are happy to engage and recommend you on social media. To keep them engaged, you can encourage them to share their thoughts and offer suggestions for optimizing your interactive product guides.
Seeking social customer contribution not only keeps your customers involved, you might also receive valuable input to further improve your product guides and be more effective in helping shoppers find the right products that suit their needs.
Komplett.no is a Norwegian online retailer that asks their Facebook followers for feedback after launching their product guides – and their community isn’t shy about providing input.
Actively Involve Co-Creators
It is the co-creators who will be the ones who will actively participate in sharing qualitative feedback. They are knowledgeable of your products and eager to contribute ideas to make your company even better. Make space to have rich and meaningful conversations with these co-creators and allow them to make suggestions.
You can involve them as you build product guides for your new products. Inviting co-creators in the process not only lets you test the usability and helps you make your product guides better, it also drives advocacy and purchase.
Collaborating with customers keeps them involved, engaged and more loyal. By involving customers in the process of designing your Guided Selling solutions, you’ll be able to create more targeted product guides that are useful in helping consumers perceive the benefits of your product lines. Reach out to your customers and design Guiding Selling solutions from your customers for your customers.