Knowing What Your Customers Are Thinking And Acting On It In Time

What happens when you launch a product and customers don’t like it, or find that some aspects of it aren’t working quite right? Usually after a period of days or weeks (depending in the product) you notice that sales are declining, but often you don’t know why.
Eventually you’ll find out why, but sometimes, it’s only after the damage is done and the media has reported that it…well, sucks.
The WSJ writes how Adidas was selling a new sneaker in Europe, the Predator. WPP Group, has a unit VML (a digital agency) which used a program called Seer to monitor online comments.
Adidas was alerted to customer complaints and was able to ask customers to treat the leather before using it. Without closely monitoring its customers complaints, Adidas could have had many unsatisfied customers on its hands and a product flop.
Being able to monitor what customers are saying, and not saying is much easier now than it was 5 years ago. Large companies could afford to hire newspaper clipping services to compile newspaper stories featuring them. They would engage expensive focus groups to get insight to their customers.
While these things are still important, companies can now monitor blogs. There’s blogs written by the average Joe Schmoe which are read by him and his mother. But then there are blogs read by hundreds (plus) readers.
In the physical world, when one person has a bad experience they tell 10 others, who each tell 10 others. In the online world, when one blogger has a bad experience he could tell thousands of others.
Keep in mind: Finding “influencers” in your industry is not just measuring their popularity ranking on Technorati, although this is a start. You have to take some time to find out the reach of their web site, their blog, their speaking, their overall influence to your market.
Most of you know this, but for those who don’t you can setup “alerts” on Yahoo or Google which will alert you when news or blog items on key words you specify are found.
Read the full WSJ article (subs required) here.