Forrester Conference: The Customers are Revolting

And, from History of the World Part I ... of course they are, they're ugly. (Rim Shot).

For corporations, the fear is that the consumers/customers are talking and not listening, but pushing their own agenda.

Corporations do believe that they are speaking to consumers - feedback forms, etc - but without realizing that they are just engaged in one-way dialogue, and not really listening to the customers.

Example one is CBS and Jericho: CBS was listening - at the beginning - to the fans. They had a CBS-based message board, and were working to augment and support the community. But, then the show was pulled off the air for the NCAA tourney, and then rescheduled against American Idol ... which killed the show.

Then came the nuts campaign - and CBS saw the real groundswell at work. CBS took the revolt, and turned into reform. It was no longer arm's length, but embracing the fans. The reformatted the home page, offering Widgets and a Wiki, and a production blog for behind-the-scene's view for the hardcore fans. It took a revolt and turned it into reform.

But, who are these people in the groundswell? It's not about technology, but how people participate. It's the ladder of participation - and it's not a full characterization because it is not static (the ladder) and people can cross various points of the ladder (you can blog on one topic, but just a reader on other topics).
  • Creators - they create blogs
  • Critics - posting on forums, comment on blogs, but not necessarily bloggers
  • Collectors - use RSS feeds, picking on Digg and tagging on Delicious, the list makers
  • Joiners - social networkers
  • Spectators - read blogs, listen podcasts, read forums
  • Inactives - aren't there yet, but might be there tomorrow - they are poised, and 2/3 have broadband and 50 percent are technology optimists
This is applicable to any group of consumers, and understand the participation of your customers and consumers.

So, how did one company turn the revolt into a reform? Targeted the Alpha Mom ($55K+ income, 1 child under 18, etc.)
  • Gave Mom's blogs and podcasts
  • Have wikis to share best practices
  • Social network to connect the Alpha Moms
Looked at the data first, though - POST (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology). So engage the critics with reviews and ratings, serve spectators with social content, enable list making for the collectors and use profiles to give compelling context for discussions, not just connections.

Embrace the customer to turn back the revolt - turn revolt into reform. Share the power, and have the strength to tap into the revolutionary power.

Photos to be uploaded later. :)