The Brand Perspective

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Embracing the Voice of the Customer: The Transformational Power of Listening

Communispace: Manila Austin

Manila Austin contributed this chapter which explores changes that have occurred in the last decade that brought such attention and energy to knowing the voice of the customer, and looks at the implications for organizations and their leaders. She also highlights interviews with four Communispace clients (Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., Cox Enterprises, Unilever, and IHG), all of whom sponsor private, branded online communities of customers or consumers, and reveal some specific examples of how leaders effectively listen to the voice of the customer and integrate what they hear into the business. 

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Meredith’s Silver Bullet: Leading with Market Knowledge and Innovation. Women are Talking. We are Listening.

Britta C. Ware, Meredith Corporation and Manila S. Austin, Ph.D., Communispace Corporation

At the January 2009 ARF Industry Leader Forum, Kim Dedeker challenged our industry to bring back the human element in market research. She argued that listening—genuinely hearing and heeding consumer voices—is no longer a core competency and that we have come to over-rely on metrics, measurement, and evaluation. This approach is hurting market research in a number of ways. Our focus on measuring diverts our understanding away from the human experience that underlies our statistics; and as a result we are not getting the kinds of insights needed to produce actionable results, bottom or top line. In today’s world, staying relevant is the key to competitive advantage. Yet, one-sided efforts to reach consumers—direct mail, telephone calls, email spam—turn off rather than engage people. Moreover, consumer skepticism (coupled with the power to screen or block unwanted messages) has prompted people to reject our attempts. This rejection is evident in the falling participation rates that have frustrated market research for years. 

 

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What Marketing Can Learn from the field of Leadership.

Diane Hessan, Communispace and Robert Stringer

Customers are screaming to be more engaged with the companies that affect their lives. Booming trends like blogging, online communities, flash mobbing, buzz agents, and MySpace show that customers have a lot to say - they want to be asked and they want to be involved. The groundswell around customer engagement may be taking marketers by surprise. However, the same “involvement” concepts percolating in employee engagement and leadership over the last twenty years can be applied to a company’s relationship with its customers. Learn more about the implications in this recent white paper. 

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