Monday, January 7, 2008

Reaching the Other 99 Percent

Politicking in Iowa

I would like to offer another perspective on a recent posting by Seth Godin. He was comparing voter turn out at last week’s Iowa caucuses to consumer engagement

Seth wrote:

“90% of voters skip it because they don’t want to stand up in front of people and tell them who they’re voting for. They don’t want to be challenged or made to look foolish. So they keep quiet.

That’s what most of your customers do. They lay low, because they’re afraid or shy or just not used to talking about brands and products or experiences.”

Seth, whose insights I greatly value, challenged us to inspire our customer base to speak up and out on our behalf.

The 1 Percent Rule

Seth’s challenge is indeed difficult
. According to the Church of the Customer Blog, “roughly 1% of your site visitors will create content within a democratized community.”

Boosting those numbers is a worthy goal. I think shyness and fear are two reasons why customers lay low; but what about simple time restraints?

Consumers purchase multiple goods. They couldn’t possibly write and talk about all these relationships even if they were thoroughly satisfied with all of them. I think it is best to focus on deepening conversations with the most passionate. They will be your best ambassadors. By offering them access to executives and enlisting their input, they will become your “superusers.” It is this group that will take it upon themselves to field questions on company forums and generate word of mouth.

But focusing on your superusers is not an invitation to ignore the rest of your customers or take them for granted. Over the years, I have found that most customers get much less shy when they are mistreated or disappointed with their experience. The key is to reach them before they get angry and vocal. Providing great customer service and products is one way. Having an easy, accessible forum manned with informed, sensitive employees and passionate customers is another.

While I don’t think 100 percent engagement is possible or even advisable (given available resources), social media can encourage participation and build communities. Whether its politics or packaged goods, social media gives people an opportunity to be heard and the ability to make a difference.

Let me get back to you.

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Posted by Dan Greenfield in 13:34:09 | Permalink | No Comments »