A short while back, John Porcaro wrote about a discussion he had at a Geek Dinner with a few other Seattle area bloggers about listening to customers. He said the following:
One of the tips Robert talked about made a lot of sense. He occasionally gets product suggestions sent by email. He mentioned that he encourages the customer to write about their ideas in their blog, then he’ll send a link to the blog entry to the product team. Having something “published on the web” has a few benefits: 1) It’s public, and carries some weight because the discussion is in the open, it can’t get shuffled away or lost in an Inbox; 2) it allows others to join the conversation either through linking or commenting; and 3) it allows everyone to follow the conversation, to “listen in.”
Sounds good but come on?does that sort of thing really work? I mean, do people that work at large companies like Microsoft really care about what some average joe that uses their products writes in their weblog? Surely not right?
Last week I posted about a frustration that my boss had regarding the Microsoft site and the organization of the webcast sections. Not a big deal?I mean we all get frustrated from time to time right?
However John read my post and decided to dig a little. After just a few hours, I find out that my post had been passed on to several people who took the time out of their busy schedules to review the items mentioned and come back with some actual useful information on some changes that are taking place that will actually solve the exact problem I had mentioned in my post. Wow!
So I feel pretty good now. Not because I got my way but because someone listened. Actually in the end, a few people did and that makes it all the nicer.
In my opinion, and obviously I am not the only one, the key to building relationships with customers centers around listening, communicating and spending a little time in their shoes to get to the bottom of what matters to them. Let?s face it, you can?t always solve every problem your customers have (although I wish I could). However showing someone that you are willing to go to bat for them once in a while or simply taking the time to ask them ?how can I help you with this?? ? That is where loyalty is built.
In the past year I have read many of John?s posts with great enthusiasm. He is without a doubt one of my favorite bloggers and a great inspiration to me as I build a career in business and marketing. Apparently lots of other people feel the same as well because he is often one of the first names I hear when great blogs are discussed. It?s not that he works for Microsoft, or in fact one of my favorite divisions. Although I admit that?s cool. It?s not just that he often posts on the topics that I care most about. And it?s not because he gives me a little referral action once in a while (woot). It?s that he writes about how things should be done?and then does them. I think that?s pretty darn cool. Kudos to you John and thanks!