Continuing our series on customer relationships and business blogging, we're now to where the rubber meets the road. Today, we've a couple of particularly salient examples where business blogging engages directly with the customer in order to better drive the direction of the organization. Enter the "Customer Advocate" business blog.
Customer advocate blogs (or advocate-styled posts within a larger, more general blog) are those that expressly engage directly with the customer, solicit feedback, answer direct customer questions, and generally reach out and act as a bridge between customers, their concerns and suggestions, and the organization.
When done well, customer advocate blogs will communicate full-circle, and follow the following steps:
1) Engage the conversation - Ensure that customers have a mechanism for providing feedback, suggestions, needs, wants, and the like.
2) Distill and group the feedback - Many of the feedback items may be around similar topics. Group those together and handle them in aggregate.
3) Determine your own prioritization mechanism - All feedback items are not the same. How will your organization decide which ones to address, and by when?
4) Report back - Let the customers know what's going on. The customers took the time to share their thoughts...what is being done with them? This is the step that is often overlooked.
5) Get to closure - When things are done, let customers know. Don't let the feedback mechanism be a black hole. If enough suggestions are submitted that don't seem to result in feedback or action, customers are going to stop participating the conversation.
"Customer Advocate" example #1
Blogger: John Dowdell
Blog Location: http://www.markme.com/jd/archives/006722.cfm
"Customer Advocate" example #2
Blogger: Robert Scoble
Role: Technical Evangelist
Blog Location: http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/01/06.html#a9118
(n.b. I've notes into both John and Robert, explicitly asking for followup on what their respective organizations are going to do with the feedback and suggestions they've received, per point (4) above...this post will be updated as responses arrive)
(31Jan2005) John has responded in the comments. Thanks for the quick response!