SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 16:  A Best Buy custo...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Social media is a listening tool.

We've heard this before. Whether or not we are genuinely buying into this brief snippet of wisdom is another story. For those listeners out there, you may be missing out on a prime opportunity to improve your product or service.

When it comes to listening, the first thing people think about is customer service. We think of the Comcast guy and how he started a customer service revolution for his company using Twitter. In the social media listening game, resolving customer complaints with free fixes and account credits are only part of the game. There is a huge opportunity to use the instant feedback to create (gasp) a better product.

No amount of marketing brilliance is going to help long-term sales or improve customer loyalty if you have a crap product. Period. A brilliant Google AdWords strategy won't help you convert leads if your website sucks. A hilarious series of TV ads won't help a fast food chain improve sales if the actual restaurants are dirty or poorly run. This is where social listening comes into play. Instead of focusing in on only appeasing short-run complaints, use that feedback to re-evaluate the product. Is there a common complaint about a certain feature of your product or service? Maybe there's something there that needs to be changed.

A few posts back, I talked about how I looked up product reviews via QR codes in Best Buy. Being the optimist, if I were a company that had poorly reviewed products at Best Buy, I wouldn't get down about the situation but see it as an opportunity. Was there a common complaint across the board? What did that 4-star product have that I didn't? How could I change my product in such a way to turn those frowns upside down?

Dominos did a great job of this a while back. They had received complaints for quite some time for having a poor quality of pizza. Knowing they had to do something to change that reputation, they changed their product. Dominos took the initiative to overhaul their ingredients and make a better pizza. Backed by a solid marketing campaign, they were able to help change that stereotypical view many had of their "bad pizza" by simple self-examination.

Change is hard. Making alterations to our own concepts based on what someone else wants is rough. However, those complainers are customers and the ones buying our products. Change may be hard but a significant loss in sales is even rougher.

What do you all think? Should a company crowdsource for product improvement?

Enhanced by Zemanta