Letting Your Customers Work For You-Nazar Kamangar/bridge consulting blogs
When you start out, it can be difficult figuring out the best ways to engage with your customers. While it’s good to listen to negative feedback, it’s even better to be proactive. You can engage your customers preemptively by involving them in decisions from how to run your website, to what products your company carries. Not only can you gain some valuable insights on what may help your business succeed, your customers will be personally invested in your success. Here are some companies that have successfully involved their customers in the decision-making process:
Threadless is an apparel company that is informed and supported from top to bottom by its customer base. Each week, artistic site users submit designs to potentially appear on t-shirts. The staff whittles down the design pool every seven days, and put their favorites up to the vote. Customers rank designs on a scale of one to five, and this crowdsourcing helps inform which designs ultimately land in production. The concept is elegant in its simplicity. Because the customer base is involved in the process from conception forward, they get invested in the final product before it even exists. Threadless doesn’t stop there; customers can also upload pictures of themselves wearing the casual, cool t-shirts they have purchased. The company saves money on paying models, allowing them to keep their overheads low, and users get a small credit toward their next purchase, and the thrill of seeing themselves online.
Adagio Teas has a history of innovative customer engagements. For instance, they ran a promo this spring encouraging readers to navigate through all the pages on their site to locate and collect blossoms in exchange for a discount. This encouraged customers to delve deeper into the site and explore pages they might not otherwise have found, which in turn, exposed them to more of the company’s products. This contest was promoted across their various social media platforms, including Twitter. Within the past few days, they have again used Twitter to ask their customers whether they make accounts on e-commerce sites prior to making a purchase. By posing questions like this, they are using their customer base almost like a QA team, and exploiting the knowledge and preferences of their target audience to tailor the shopping experience they provide.
Amazon is one of the largest retailers in the world, but they still take the time to court customer opinion and feedback. They use their Facebook page as a platform to encourage discussion between customers. A few days before Mother’s Day they posed the question, “What would you like to see in a small box from Amazon?” Rather than promoting a particular product, they opened it up for consumers to talk about their preferred gifts for giving and receiving. They received over a thousand likes and close to 400 comments, with several commenters linking to specific products they desired on the Amazon website. While you can be sure someone from Amazon was listening, they didn’t try to steer the conversation; they just opened up a platform for customers to engage with each other, and built a sense of community with very little effort.