Social design: from customer service to innovation

Boston.com has a nice story on the growing trend of companies keeping real-time tabs on what their customers say on the Web: Hurry up, the customer has a complaint By using services like Twitter and Google blogsearch, companies can quickly respond to people who vent their frustrations. In some cases, they can actually provide real […]

Boston.com has a nice story on the growing trend of companies keeping real-time tabs on what their customers say on the Web:

Hurry up, the customer has a complaint

By using services like Twitter and Google blogsearch, companies can quickly respond to people who vent their frustrations. In some cases, they can actually provide real customer service.

I would point out that these technologies aren’t just for finding out what’s wrong, but they can also help companies know what they’re doing right, what is resonating with their audience.

For example, in the last two weeks on my twitterstream I’ve heard probably 20-25 people say that they enjoyed the movie Wall-E. In the same time period not one person complained…that signals to me that the movie is definitely worth watching. Some people even used the term “classic”. By following real-time trends you can see what is gaining word-of-mouth and what isn’t.

I’m also happy that the article serves as a tidy follow-up to Chapter 3 in my book Designing for the Social Web, a chapter I called Authentic Conversations. When I wrote that chapter back in the winter time it wasn’t clear if the big companies (Dell, Comcast, etc) were going to come around to this approach of monitoring in real-time what their customers say…and more importantly responding and having authentic conversations. As much as I’m used to being treated poorly by big companies, I’m somewhat optimistic about the stories in this article being signs that perhaps there is real change going on.

And the article makes another point that I made in the book, which is that having authentic conversations in this way isn’t just about customer service….it’s also about innovation and product evolution…that by listening to customers over time we can actually build better products by reacting to what is happening on the ground.

Published: July 8th, 2008

Hi there. So...I'm trying an experiment. I'm experimenting with product design and growth hacking strategies on a new project called What to Wear. It's a super simple service that sends you a daily email containing clothing recommendations based on the weather. My focus is to make it really useful, and it's free to sign up. Let me know what you think!