Here’s a way to empower customers, while enlisting them to keep your marketing strategies on target.
Several big-name companies, including Microsoft, have taken to creating “Customer Councils” – a small body of trusted, loyal customers who provide constant feedback and ideas regarding new and old products, marketing strategies, and possibilities for upcoming campaigns.
In return, the company rewards these advocates with incentives, discounts, and other preferential treatment.
Microsoft originally developed its Interoperability Executive Customer Council to respond to glitches in the transferability of technology via a variety of different operating systems. Now the company can test new platforms and features across a variety of different operating systems and work out the bugs prior to putting a new product on the market. The result is a much stronger product, more geared toward broad-based customer needs. On top of which, it’s a great way to boost sales, satisfaction and loyalty.
Yet, unlike a lot of other companies, Microsoft actually went out of its way to include high-level execs who weren’t customers, as well as those who were extremely loyal to competitors, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article.. This helped ensure there would be some opinions in the mix from independents who weren’t predisposed to Microsoft’s products, while also ensuring input from customers who could offer perspectives on what top competitors were doing more effectively.